I have a good friend in New Hampshire named Garrie, forever known to me as G. We used to warble tunes together, me singing lead and playing the old geetar, and she contributing pure natural harmony that could shake a room with its beauty. This was back in the 70s when pubs and coffeehouses opened their doors to the likes of us. Then disco became the rage, and everyone started boogeying to a different tune, moves that hustled most folk singers right out of business. Ah, we were so young and foolish. G and I met up again the last time I was in New England, and am happy to report we are now middle-aged and foolish. And that is a good thing.
I hadn't seen Garrie in over 30 years. Her spirit and warmth has not changed a bit. She is now known as Momma G, and is writing about the things she knows best. She has raised three children who sparkle in spirit. She is also a seamstress of great talent. She would wear the most wonderful outfits, all made by hand, of her own design.
I have a confession to make, dear G.
I was kicked out of sewing class when I was 15.
I coulda been a condend-ah, but alas, it was my mother Dottie M.'s idea.
"You need to learn how to sew," she announced to me at breakfast one morning during my teenage years.
Huh? Where did that come from?
I continued to eat my cereal in silence, wondering if the aliens had come during the night and stolen my mother, leaving a replacement who had no earthly idea who I was.
"Why do I need to learn how to sew?" I asked.
"Because it will be good for you," she replied.
My father Frank J. put down the newspaper he held in front of his face and gave me a look like, "Don't go there." My younger sister Kathy looked at me and shrugged her shoulders, a physical expression of the phrase, "Suck-ah!"
"OK," I said, amazing the gathered crowd. I was thinking the experience could possibly be good short story material.
The next day my mother marched me off to the fabric store, list in hand of demands made as to the goods I would need at this once-a-week sewing camp to learn how to sew a jumper. How perfectly Catholic is that! A jump-ah. Perhaps to be worn with a blouse that had a Peter Pan collar. I didn't have enough of those in my closet. We gathered fabric and needles and thread, a sundry of notions that would enable me to, finally, as my mother hoped, piece it all together.
As class time drew near, a discussion ensued as to the appropriate container to transport said sewing supplies to the place of instruction.
"How 'bout a brown paper shopping bag?" I suggested.
I thought Dottie M. would have a stroke.
"You are not going out of this house with sewing goods in a brown paper bag," she said to me with much disgust, wondering if, in fact, I had been the one abducted by aliens. Her response echoed the old Irish saying, "Don't bring shame to this table."
"OK, how about a garbage bag?" I retorted.
My mother's face turned red.
"You are not my daughter."
OK, Ma, now you are killing me.
"Yes, I am, and I am not going to class carrying stuff in some girly bag!" I said.
I crossed my arms across my chest.
A Hefty bag it was.
I am surprised the dear woman didn't drop me off two blocks away from the sewing class on the first day so she wouldn't be seen with me and my garbage bag. True to form, she drove me right up to the door, and gave me a parting look as if to say, "May the force be with you."
Thanks, Ma. This was your big idea.
I entered the building, then the classroom, which was filled with helmet-haired, pruned- face, pruned-lipped-looking women. They were discussing current events that, I believe, were fostered by the latest headlines from The National Enquirer.
These ladies had their fabric all spread out on the sewing tables, boxes of pins open, ready to stab fabric-to-pattern. A cruel group.
I made the mistake of whipping my garbage bag up on the nearest flat surface, which was really one of those temporary sewing boards that sat upon a smaller space, yet gave more dainty individuals space to cut their patterns.
As physic majors will tell you, "Not a good idea."
The weight of the garbage bag flipped the sewing board up as if it was competing to be in the NASA Space program. Fabric went flying. Even more dangerous, pins from open boxes were detonated. The people screamed. When the dust settled, there were a myriad of pins stuck in the hair-sprayed coiffures of my classmates.
I called Dottie M. from a pay phone a couple of blocks from class.
"Please come get me. I have been kicked out of class."
I heard my mother sigh, in a foiled-once-again tone.
So, dear G, I leave the hum of the sewing machine to you. And I am happy you are back in my life.