A Ripping Good Start

Greetings Dear Friends,

I am painfully aware that the following story does not put its protagonist in the best light.  Therefore, I have put it into fairytale language and changed all the names in the hope of protecting someone who vehemently protests her Innocence—even though we all know she is NOT!

Once upon a time, a certain Seamstress, inspired by the first three chapters of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, decided to take the contents of her entire closet and pile them on her bed.  With the New Year energy driving her to make a Clean Start, she proceeded to purify the empty closet and dispose of all sorts of rubbish she would not like to mention here because it involves nests of mice and empty pizza boxes.  When the floor was polished and every dust mote removed, she returned to the pile on her bed and began the process of holding each item of clothing to see if it “sparked Joy.” The things that didn’t were thanked, blessed, cleaned and folded to be donated.  The Magic was EVERYWHERE.  Because this is a Fairy tale, the mice were talking mice (very rude mice—not the kind that help you with stitching your ball gowns at the last minute), and the clothes talked back to her—though most of what they said cannot be repeated here.

When nothing but Joy was hanging neatly and ecstatically in the closet, the Seamstress was exhausted and fell into a deep slumber amongst the rest of the sadly departing clothes that she was too tired to pack into bags for donation.  She slumbered for a thousand years but no knight in shining armor hacked his way through the jungle of tangled laundry vines to give her love’s first kiss, nor did the peas and pizza boxes bruise her tender skin. She is a Seamstress, not a Princess, for Heaven’s sake! So she woke up in that mess and struggled in the pre-dawn dimness to find something to wear to work that day.

At the foot of the bed, near one of the snoring canine “footmen,” she could discern a folded pair of jeans. “Ah!” she thought, “I’ll just wear these and have a casual sort of day.  It’s our first day back and the weather is lousy. These will be fine.”  She worked them over her hips in the dark.  They fit beautifully.  “Gee,” she thought, “I don’t remember having these.  How did they get in the donation pile?” she wondered. “These look great!  They feel great! I need to keep these!” she thought happily, sparked with Joy.  (It is important to note that At No Time did this beloved heroine ever ONCE actually look in the mirror.)  Off she went to feed her sheep and chickens and have the local flora and fauna sing to her just like they do in fairytales.  She had porridge for breakfast and left her woodland cottage only a hair late for work, which was progress for her.

At work, because this is a fairytale, all she had to do was wave her silver thimble over things and they got better: Lumps got smoothed, trousers tapered, dresses hemmed, and zippers fixed with a mere whisper.  All the customers danced and clicked their heels and sang show tunes. It’s “zipper time” in the shop—the time of year when every second customer needs to have a zipper fixed.  Noblemen and peasants alike approach with ratty coats saying “Can you help me? I know it’s ugly but I only use it for shoveling snow.”  (It’s beginning to dawn on our heroine that she may be the only resident of New England who shovels snow in her pajamas.)  The “emergencies” that are not zippers are for funerals.  There is a certain percentage of the population of Fitzwell that chooses to shuffle off its mortal coils rather than face another three months of snow and jammed zippers.  Right away, there are three funerals this week and our fairytale seamstress spends a good bit of the morning crawling around men’s ankles, getting their hem lengths just right.  Yes, this is very important to the story: picture a woman CRAWLING on her knees, with mirrors on both sides of her, mirrors she does not see because she is so focused on her work and her attention to her customers. Bending down. Bending over. Crawling...

And now, the fairy tale continues…

A middle-aged man comes in.  She asks him how he is. He gives a stock standard, typically stoic response born from years of snow and funerals and jammed zippers, “Well, I can’t complain!”

“Would you want to?” she wonders. “Why can’t you? Are you not allowed?”  She is curious. Perhaps it is another one of those New England things. Or maybe it’s because this is a fairytale and no one is allowed to complain in fairytales, except the evil ones.  This man does not look evil.  He looks tired.

“I need these pants hemmed for my mom’s funeral on Saturday,” he says.  She nods and leads him to the dressing room. “Your mom just died and you can’t complain???” she wonders in awe. Just WHAT would it take to make you complain??? When the door opens, she crawls around his feet for a few moments, then he leaves.

Over lunch, one of the other seamstresses starts talking about how they have to get back to going to hot yoga together.  Cookie season is over.  It’s time to get serious about having their pants fit again.  First, our heroine wonders idly what would happen if they ate a bunch of Raw cookie dough and then went to hot yoga? Would it bake? Then she looks down at her mystery jeans and thinks again “I must be getting a little squashy in my head.  I seriously don’t remember buying these but I’m glad I did.  I never have jeans fit this well so early in the year!”  Out loud, she says to her co-workers, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a second brain that we could have resting on a charger while we drain the first one, like the battery packs on a cordless drill?  Mine runs down too quickly during the day.  I really need another brain! I don’t remember buying these jeans.” They nod understandingly.  It happens to everyone.

She rushes home to feed the dogs and animals, then rip off all her clothes as fast as she can to change for yoga class.  It’s your standard fairytale yoga class with everyone feeling virtuous and supple and smugly sweaty.  By the end, everyone is magically smaller and more toned and infinitely more flexible and spiritually healed, and probably wealthier too, since the class was on discount…

This Whole peaceful, happy FAIRYTALE ends abruptly that evening when the Seamstress gets a call from her daughter in college. “Hi Mom, how’s it going?  Have you gotten a chance to fix the pair of jeans I left on your bed?  It has two large holes in the bum, kind of underneath the cheeks. I’m not sure what happened.  The fabric just kind of gave way and it needs a patch.  I’d get rid of them but they are my favorite jeans.  They are so comfy!”  Suddenly feeling dizzy, the seamstress hastens to her laundry basket and holds up the pair of jeans she has worn all day.  This is the first time, since dressing in the dark that morning that she has actually LOOKED at them.   What she sees makes her want to pass out.  Her whole fairytale day fast-forwards in front of her eyes…the crawling… the bending… Oh dear God… She probably looked just fine standing up but standing up is not the only thing she does all day.  Visions of dough bulging through two holes haunt her. Is it even possible, to be THAT oblivious that a bit of one’s arse can hang out ALL DAY (no wonder those jeans fit better than any she owns!) and not be physically present enough to realize it?  Yes…apparently, it is… Suddenly, she has to lie down.


Because, well… Here in New England, “we can’t complain.” Also, maybe we don’t really look at each other all that closely.  Maybe we are all more swept into the concerns of our own chattering minds. Perhaps a seamstress in bombed out jeans is no surprise to them: “Physician, heal thyself; Seamstress, mend thy ways and cover your bum while you’re at it!”

In any case dear Reader, I sincerely hope that you can stop weeping over this tragic tale long enough to appreciate that, like all good fairytales, this one contains a rather stern Moral: The life changing magic of tidying up is nothing to the life changing magic of looking at your damn clothes before you wear them! If something seems to fit too well, check again!

Be well, my Dearies!  And may your new year be off to a Ripping Good Start!

Yours aye,