My sister, Her Imperial Majesty wanted to be glamorous. She stood endlessly in half finished dresses while Mother pinned and tucked and basted, trying to get them just exactly right for her daughter-of-royal-birth.
There would be pins sticking out like the quills of annoyed porcupines, threatening to tear the flesh off anyone who got too close. Her Imperial Majesty would walk, with extreme care, to the bathroom and then would stand in front of the full length mirror, corkscrewing, trying to see if it fit her waist tight enough. She would purse her lips in that movie star sort of way and look down her nose, practicing, I think, to snub those of less nobility. Practicing to snub me, for sure.
Her small waist was enviable, smaller than mine and I was nine years younger. Someone once told her that she was built like a Coke bottle and that made her deliriously happy. That wouldn’t be a compliment now, but then Coke bottles were nipped in at the middle. She spent a great deal of time in half finished dresses saying, “Can you just take it in a little bit more, right here?”
I thought having Mom make a dress was a big fat waste of time. She once made a dress for me out of patterned corduroy, which I might actually have liked if she hadn’t turned one piece of pattern the wrong way and the nap of the corduroy was pale. The rest of the dress had beautiful, rich autumn colors.
I wouldn’t wear it. Mother tried all sorts of persuasion.
“It looks perfectly fine,” she said.
“Mom, this whole side is a different color.”
“I don’t see it, I cut it out of the same piece of fabric. It looks EXACTLY the same to me.”
We had an endless discussion about the possibility of her being blind and me being stubborn and in the end I didn’t wear the dress.
Mom said she’s give it away to someone who appreciated her slaving over a hot sewing machine. I don’t know who that would be; perhaps the Indians who Mom was always telling me she was going to send me back to. I had seen the Indians and they wore beautiful velvet skirts and wonderful turquoise jewelry and had that blue black hair I envied so much. I knew they wouldn’t be bothered with a corduroy dress with the nap running the wrong way.
The dress was like one of those cars you see with one purple door while the rest of the car is white. They are usually driven by teen-age boys who are happy to be driving anything because their insane insurance rates are so high, or by old retired men who have no dignity left and just want to get out of the house. So, I think the dress never did find a home and it will turn up on ebay one day and it will receive no bids.
Her Imperial Majesty was the designated recipient of all of Mother’s sewing ambitions. Mom actually made her wedding dress. That was a month and a half of pure patience on Mother’s part and a month and a half of Her Imperial Majesty marathon pickiness and extreme desire to have every stitch perfect so she look like the princess she knew she was born to be.
Mom also made my bridesmaid dress, a sky blue creation and turned dark blue with the least trickle of perspiration. I had to wear dress shields so I wouldn’t look like the sweaty thirteen year old that I was.
When Puberty revved up all her interesting little hormones she gave me an extra dose of underarm glands and the only reason I survived teenager hood was because my cousin had the same runaway glands and I had someone to cry with. My cousin was all-things-beautiful and so I felt that someday the Universe would in some way compensate me for my great sweaty trial as it had her, DURING her great sweaty trial. I felt it was worth waiting for, and so I endured. I’m still waiting but when the great compensation comes I will be so happy and fulfilled.
To be continued.