2018 unedited, Mirror Image Edutainment, Alan John Mayer
It was 1963. I was eight. We were in our second story apartment in Ludwigsburg, Germany, overlooking the playground and the many trees outside Mummy’s sewing room window, to me known as my ‘bedroom’. My playroom was outside.
I told her I didn’t like the green, brown, and black short sleeved polyester shirt, I didn’t care if it was a new miracle fabric, but she insisted on buying it anyway. Worse; she insisted I wear it. She liked it, I in it looked good on her, and with German determination, she was going to make me wear it.
If I ever hated anything, I hated this shirt.
“It” had a brown collar, brown and beige, Kinder Kacke grün,* with rust colored highlights going through the fabric “Made in Germany”. I remember standing up in mother’s daughter’s sewing room (where I was allowed to sleep on her Bett Gestell, and saying:
“No! Das ziehe ich nicht on” I exclaimed, as I stood there, wearing the knitted shirt that was all wrong.
Why do I have to wear this shirt, I asked myself, as I looked out the window at the children playing outside. I wanted to be with them.
This shirt isn’t my taste.
I didn’t choose it.
I hate the color.
I like blue.
She bought it even though I told her I won’t wear it,
and the absolute deciding factor that made me stand up and say, “No!” —
Now that I was eight, at least when shopping for pants, I wasn’t lifted onto a table anymore, and made to take my clothes off in front of everybody, the way the Germans did in those days. I guess dressing rooms for children were an unnecessary expense during the 1950’s; the main thing I hated about being “German”, that, and of course I was embarrassed by the cut of European underwear, later to be imitated by the Americans. Why can’t I be more like the Americans, I asked myself. They get to wear T-shirts, though I didn’t yet know what they were called.
The Kinder Kacke grüne* shirt was the first time I remember clothing making a difference to me. Never had I stood in front of Mummy’s closet, and asked myself, “which of Mummy’s clothes shall I wear today?” I was not going to wear her scratchy polyester shirt. And I never did. And she never forgave me, never bought clothes for me again, unless my birthday, or Christmas was coming up. When I began earning my own money gardening, at eleven, her allowance stopped.
Next, I remember our ‘family’ vacation, six weeks in Italy, during the summer of 1965. Mummy’s family was at the flea market in Rome, and out of my own pocket money I bought myself a short sleeved red velour shirt with a white ship’s wheel stitched to the center. I loved that shirt and got much wear out of it; a wise investment for a nine year old to make.
I also bought a red and white 1958 Mercedes 180, and a 1962 red and white Jaguar XKE (Corgi toys). Of all my cars Mummy gave away to her granddaughter for me, I still have the Mercedes and the Jaguar, in fine condition, worth twenty times what I paid for them in 1965.
In September, 1969, my mother signed a marriage contract with the May Company. One benefit (the only one I saw) of this union, was her twenty-five percent discount, and she allowed me to buy my first pair of jeans. I was fourteen. As we had agreed, after school, I took the bus downtown to May Company, met my mother in the dress department. She took me downstairs to the boy’s jeans department, to see what she liked and what she decided would look good on me. Mother detested jeans, a sign of the working class.
“Oh, you must be Christina’s son” they would say. “You look just like her.”
Mother detested jeans, but she loved corduroy, and her job was to dress people, but I was not one of the women who came to shop at her ‘Sophisticate’ shop.
Later, after dinner, when Mummy saw the final purchase; a pair of red and blue one inch striped jeans, she he had a fit, but eventually settled. That was when I became, like Mummy Dearest, a clothes horse. As a buyer, fifty percent off on clothes, all store merchandise, makes a big difference to a big consumer FHOH, Female head of her household, like Mummy. It has been fifteen years now, since I bought or received new clothes.
*translation: baby poop green
I came to believe my life had become unmanageable.
I came to believe only a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.
I came to understand that power, whatever I choose to call It,
that power is God…