We’d had an annoying morning, the Style Sisters and I, initiated by the headache already roaring along before we even opened our eyes. Then we looked outside and discovered that the beautiful spring-like circumstances of the previous few days—blue, blue skies; temperatures in the 60s; a landscape flooded with yellow-white light; tiny, jewel-like crocuses poking up through the tatty brown leftovers of last seasons leaves and grasses—all those refreshing signs of spring had reverted to the more typical demeanor of March in our part of the northern Right Coast: gray skies, temps in the high 30s, rain, followed by hail, followed by snow, followed by more rain.
A fight started when poor Celestina Maria, who nearly always sees the more sanguine side of things, gently remarked that such a day would make us appreciate the pretty days to come all the more. This did not go over well with Francine and Paris-Gray Brown and the other sisters who tend to take the perturbations of the universe as personal insults. They snapped at Celestina, which caused Jazz and Rajiki and Amalienne to defend her, which caused the others to fight back, which caused Celestina to cry, and so on and on, until I hushed the lot of them and bundled everyone into the car.
“Except for Celestina, you are all being to one degree or another unfair and mean and pessimistic,” I told them, “and that only makes rotten weather feels worse. Besides, we have an appointment with the dressmaker to see about having her make us some skirts so you all can have just exactly the design and patterns you want, and if you don’t stop it this minute, we’ll be late.” Although we’ve been working on our lateness problem, if truth be told, the sisters cared less about lateness than about the coffee and cookie I promised after our appointment. But sometimes one takes what one can get.
Off we went to a town in the hills that we don’t visit often—a small village really, that’s drawn movie crews more than once because of its charming main street, all small storefronts and galleries of 19th century brick, right on a rushing river. But alas, the fussing started again when we found the door to the dressmaker’s shop locked. We called her and got her voice mail. “We might’ve known,” sniffed Paris Gray-Brown. “Remember when we first called her? She left the TV or the radio or what have you blaring—blaring—while we tried to make ourselves heard over the racket. What can you expect from such an ill-mannered lout? Perhaps she was brought up in a barn; but no, even the animals, they are more polite . . . ”
Mercy. I herded everyone over to a popular local coffee shop where, alas, although the baristas were friendly—well, OK, one of them was friendly; the other, who looked like Clark Kent, was morbidly shy and couldn’t bring himself to look at us—but the latte (in which we rarely indulge, having an aversion to spending more than 2 bucks for a cup of coffee) was tepid and weak and the peanut butter cookie was uninspiring.
Then we headed back to the seamstress. Door still locked. Called again; got her voice mail again. Francine grabbed the phone from my hand and left a few pointed words. Just about time to leave town. We stopped by a thrift store we’d noticed on the way in. The sign said they opened at 9:30; it was by then 10:30, and the door was securely locked; no signs of life within. Definitely time to leave town.
We were an unhappy lot on the ride home, until Celestina whispered in my ear that perhaps everyone would feel better if we had a look around our hometown thrift shop instead of my just running in and leaving our bundle. “Well,” I said, “that’s most kind of you, but we’re supposed to be just dropping off, not picking up. You know how hard we’re trying to cut our inventory and reduce our materiality and so forth.”
But Celestina is wise in these matters, and so I said yes. The others delightedly piled out of the car and into the shop, and look what we found!
The shrug violates our no-acrylic rule (too hot, pills easily), but we are nothing if not flexible (sometimes), and we all love its shade of blue—sodalite blue, just as deep and rich as that beautiful mineral. The skirt’s everyone’s favorite style, and the hat (50 cents) will shield us from the summer sun while helping us appear more well behaved than we often are—an important consideration, as you’ve no doubt gathered.
And then we headed happily home, 10 dollars lighter but a lot happier. Time enough to work on that materiality thing next week.