By June Mathews
Used to be I’d never dare darken the doors of First Baptist on Easter morning dressed in anything less than my seasonal best: a newly-purchased pastel-colored frock, a tortuous pair of pantyhose and a blindingly white pair of pointy-toed pumps or strappy sandals.
It was Easter, after all, and wearing white shoes was not only mandatory; it was finally permissible. Something I’d been looking forward to since relegating the previous year’s pair of white shoes, along with the white pants and white skirt, to the back of the closet right after Labor Day.
Being a 1971 graduate of a six-week Saturday morning program of beauty and etiquette for young ladies of refinement called Sears Charm School, I was proper like that.
Besides, I didn’t want to place myself squarely on the receiving end of the Lord’s wrath. (Seems there used to be a commandment in the New Testament that said, “Thou shalt dress to the nines for church every Easter Sunday.”) Neither did I want Mama to feel like she’d spent all that money on charm school, only to end up with a clodhopper of a daughter who didn’t know beans about dressing well.
These days, though, my attitude toward Easter finery isn’t quite so high-falutin’ as it was back then. And while I might buy a new accessory or two to mark the occasion, I don’t necessarily go all out anymore.
But as far as I’m concerned, wearing certain white articles of clothing before Easter and after Labor Day has remained taboo. Same goes for wearing white shoes, except for those with a New Balance logo emblazoned on the side.
So as you can imagine, my entire sense of style was recently blown to smithereens when Mama casually remarked, “It’s okay to wear white pants year-round now if you want to.”
My head didn’t stop spinning for days.
I don’t recall exactly what prompted her to say it, but I believe we were talking about how a shirt I’d found at an after-Christmas sale would look great with white pants.
“Too bad I can’t wear white pants for a few more months,” I said, naively operating under the illusion that Mama and I remained in total agreement on the matter.
And that’s when she dropped her verbal bomb.
I couldn’t have been more shocked if she’d announced she was leaving the Baptist church to go join up with the Catholics because their communion juice tastes better. But with the recent changes in her views on such important things as wearing white pants, I reckon anything’s a possibility. Heck she might as well be a Democrat.
After hammering this stuff into my head from infancy, how can Mama now say it’s perfectly fine to break the central rule upon which I’ve based my spring/summer seasonal wardrobe for the past 50 years?
What’s next? Is she going to tell me horizontal stripes really don’t add pounds after I’ve shunned rugby shirts since college and turned my back on those cute French-inspired, black-and-white-striped tunics that are all the rage right now? Surely not.
If that’s the case, I guess this means I can buy one of those striped shirts and wear it with white pants before Easter and clear through ‘til Christmas.
But if I do that, I’m essentially renouncing my charm school training, which means I should probably return my certificate of completion to the nearest Sears store. Or maybe I should just keep quiet and hope they never learn what a dismal failure one of their proudest graduates has turned out to be. Unless I can get a refund, that is.
In the meantime, it looks like Mama’s going to have herself a clodhopper of a daughter after all.
Serves her right, if you ask me.
June Mathews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.