I found a photo of me dressed smartly in a light green spring coat, ruffly white hat, white socks, black mary janes and matching purse. As you can see, I look ever so thrilled to be a pint-sized fashion plate. This photo was among several of me dressed quite fashionably - and looking quite dour.
My mother tried. Oh, how she tried! She could have turned the photos of me into catalogs advertising smart clothes for tots. But among the smartly-dressed photos, are other snapshots. One features me wearing a frilly dress, plopped down in the middle of a dirt pile, white hat askew, legs splayed, a joyous grin on my face. Another shows me in a matching coat and hat (winter white, with rosebud buttons (gag). In one photo, I’m standing stiffly. In the next, I’m crying, my mouth wide open in a howl of misery. And so on. And so on. You get the picture.
I don’t know how old I was when my mother finally gave up on me. The photos stop after I reached age 8 or 9, so maybe then. No… wait. I remember a photo of a 10 year old me, hair cut in a shag, wearing a purple mini dress dotted with orange, yellow and white geometric shapes. I have white patent leather shoes and a goofy smile, hiding my true thoughts (“Kill me, please!”).
The last time my mother bought me anything frilly, the year was 1988. I was going to my first Grammy Awards, representing our small jazz & classical record company (one of our artists, Louie Bellson, was up for an Grammy <which he=”” won=”“>). The Grammys were taking place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. My mom bought me this frothy concoction that fell to just below my knees. It was an irridescent green, sleeveless, v-neck, cinched waist, full, flowy skirt. I told her it didn’t fit and took it back to Macy’s to exchange it for a severe suit-dress. I convinced myself that it was more “practical” and that I could get several wears out of it. My mother was disappointed, but agreed that I had made a smarter choice.
The night of the Grammys, I never felt so underdressed. I spent the entire evening longing for that frothy green dress. I longed for that dress even more when I found myself sharing the red carpet with U2 to walk from Radio City to the Hilton Hotel for the afterparty.
Oh, I got several wears out of that suit-dress. In fact, I still have it packed away. But I still think of what might have happened had I let myself be more feminine, for just one night, and wonder, what would it take now, for me to trade my jeans and t-shirt for a frothy green dress