I usually try to get my most classic life stories on this blog not only so that you all can enjoy them, but so that they're recorded for posterity. Last night, I referenced this one story to Murray, only to find out that 1) I had never actually told Murray this story and 2) I had never actually blogged about this story, either. Both of these things baffle me, because this is among my most prized life stories ever.
In my family, we have a Christmas tradition of gifts of love. Each year, the family home evening before Christmas, we get together and think of one gift of love that we will give to each family member. We then write these down on slips of paper and put the slips of paper into small baggies labeled with each family member's name. Gifts of love are non-material gifts, often service-oriented, that we can give to our family members during the next year. On Christmas Eve, we gather together and open our gifts of love, reading to the family the gifts that we've received from each family member. Often these are pretty funny moments. Like the year that Dad managed to give everyone the same gift: Sage Wisdom and Advice. Or maybe that was Grandpa. That's a copout if I've ever seen one. Almost as much as a copout as The Boy's gifts of love when he was younger and would insert the word "try" into every gift of love. So the year when his gift of love to me was "try not to annoy you," any time he was annoying, I would remind him that his gift of love was to not annoy me and he'd tell me, "I said I would try not to annoy you." Anyway. I think you get the picture. Non-material gifts. It's a great tradition.
Well, the Christmas of my freshman year of college, I got a very interesting gift from my dad. I was 19 years old. I opened up the slip of paper and read it to the family. It said, "Help blossoming."
I asked my dad, "Have I not blossomed yet?"
He said, "Well, you know. You're a little frumpy."
(I must insert a note here to let you know that I have a wonderfully supportive father and that he gets away with saying stuff like this because 1) he's really funny when he says it, 2) he says it in a way that you could never be offended anyway, and 3) he knows that I'm pretty resilient to his teasing.)
In these days, my parents still lived in Canada, so after our Christmas together, we all had to drive down to Toronto so that we could get back on the plane and fly back to school in Utah. We spent a few days in Toronto that year, and one day was spent at a very large mall, taking advantage of the unique shopping that Toronto offers (lots of cool Canadian stores that we don't have in the States). At the mall, my dad announced to me that at some point during the day, he'd like some time with me to make good on his gift of love to me and take me to some stores to show me clothing that would help me to blossom.
My brilliant idea was to have him take me to Ann Taylor, because surely we'd both find something classy there that we both liked. And then maybe he'd like it so much that he'd even buy it for me, and I'd score some nice clothes that I'd never be able to afford myself.
When it was time to meet up with my dad, we looked at the store directory and there was no Ann Taylor. And I had no backup plan. So Dad said, "Well, what about the Gap? Isn't the Gap cool? People still shop at the Gap, right?" My spirits were once again lifted because I was confident that the Gap would, in fact, be full of pretty decent clothes.
Once there, Dad said that we should find the kakhis section. Still, I didn't think this was so bad. We found the kakhis section and I found that their selection was to my tastes. They had low-cut, flat-front, boot-cut kakhis. Surely we'd be able to agree on a suitable pair. But when I looked over at Dad, I saw he was shaking his head. "No. This isn't what I'm looking for," he said. "Let's go over to the men's section."
And that was pretty much the point at which I realized that we weren't going to find anything we agreed on.
In the men's section, my dad found a few pairs of high-waisted, pleated, tapered kakhis. I was shocked that the Gap still sold stuff like that! Here, Dad started nodding his head in approval and quickly found a great pair that suited his tastes. They probably had the highest waist, the pleatedest pleats and the taperedest taper of the whole store.
This was the Christmas season, you know, so the change room was pretty busy. I went into my stall, eager to prove to my dad that this kind of pant was the most unflattering thing I could possibly wear. I put them on and the waist came about two inches below my boobs. The bottoms of my pants all but fit right into the shoes that I was wearing. And the pleats! Oh, the pleats! They magnified what is undoubtedly one of my biggest trouble areas.
Luckily, I was wearing a thick sweater and a collared shirt that I could pull over the most offensive parts of the pants. Still, I looked like a shapeless blob with no self respect. I shuffled out of the stall, knowing that of course Dad would see me and recognize his error. Instead, Dad immediately told me, "Now that is what I mean. That looks so much better. That is very classic." People in the dressing room area started looking over at us and staring.
Just when I thought that it couldn't get any worse, Dad said, "Now. Tuck in your sweater."
Under the scrutiny of the whole dressing room, I obeyed my father and tucked in my thick sweater and shirt. Now instead of looking like a shapeless blob, I looked much, much worse. I looked like a snowman made of three distinctly round balls. The ample pleats with tucked in sweater easily added about 30 pounds. And above the belt, the bulky sweater with my large bust had now made my whole upper body into one enormous set of boobs. And as Dad told me how nice that looked, and explained that I didn't have to dress this way, but it was good for me to see that this is how I would look best, I heard several discreet snickers from our audience.
In the end, we agreed to disagree. And to this day, though I still may be sometimes a little unblossomed in my dad's eyes, I'm pretty comfortable with the clothing choices that I make.