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Terry Pratchett's Discworld Books
 
  Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
Sowís Ear
by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Bad news. Real bad news. Iíve got to have an Outfit. I donít mean that I need new clothes. I have plenty of clothes. In plenty of sizes. Because I am an optimist. No, what I need is an Outfit, and this presents me with a problem. As you may know (I might have mentioned it a couple of hundred times), my girls are gone most of the time now and when they are home they are mainly interested in the phone, the washing machine and the refrigerator. In approximately that order. I have become extraneous. One of them hugged me the other day and then said, and I quote, "Mom your little shoulders are so tiny. Youíre so cute!" When did I become cute? Iíll tell you when. I became cute when they grew into great, tall, long-legged muscular young women (well one of them did Ė we call the other one The Hobbit. She hates that). I became cute when they quit being just a little bit afraid of me (one of my all time favorite lines is from Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, "Children need a little unreasoning terror in their lives."). I became cute just about the time my ovaries shriveled up like a pair of olives forgotten way back in the back of the fridge.

Iím getting sidetracked. Besides I do not like to dwell on the fact that I am on a downhill slide into geriatric cuteness. At least as far as my smartalecky kids are concerned. I want to dwell on the Outfit and the terrible difficulty I am going to have finding one by myself. Last time I needed one I went to one of my favorite stores, found a kindly looking saleslady and put myself in her hands. I gave myself over to her completely. And that was alright because I needed a specific type of thing appropriate for a specific event and I didnít have any time to dither or hesitate. This time I need it for a specific event, but I have loads of time to agonize over it and there is no particular thing that I need to wear. I need to wear something that looks O.K., something that has long enough sleeves (if I get long sleeves) because I have disproportionately long arms and it makes me want to scream when my sleeves are too short. I need something that expresses who I am accurately. Or maybe something that expresses who I would like to be accurately. I need something that is appropriate to the weather which, because of the time of the year, could be anything from 110 degrees to 50 degrees. I want to look like I care about the event to a fair degree, but not to the point of dorkiness. Oh, yeah. And I want to look like I weigh 120 pounds. Which is 75% true. If youíre math oriented, you now know something pretty personal about me. And I think my daughter has established that I do not have big bones. Cute, but not big. Now letís drop it.


So, let me summarize, for my own benefit. I need something which looks nice but not too nice, dressy but not too dressy, fashionable but not trendy, neither too young nor too old, comfortable but not sloppy, tailored but not confining, feminine but not frilly, cool and yet warm. I should also be able to use it for many, many other occasions for a long, long time. So it had better be a little stretchy, at the rate Iím going (zip that lip, Einstein). AND it would be very nice if it was on sale.

No sweat. All I need to do now is fix my hair, put on some make-up, shave my legs, dig out and dust off a pair of heels (maybe practice walking in them a little, just to brush up), lose a considerable amount of weight in the next couple or three weeks and go shopping. All by myself. With no guidance, no advise, and pretty much zero taste in clothes.

Failing that, I could pretend to be really artsy and eccentric and wear something funky and just act self assured. Or, I could save myself a lot of trouble and worry by pretending to have the flu at the last minute. Or I could wear that outfit the saleslady picked out for me. The only thing is, that outfit wasnít very . . .well, it wasnít very stretchy. Itís not nice to snicker.

Mmmm. Snickers
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© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" - December 1, 2004 Column
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