Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Inner Seven

There is no reason why Pretty Lady should be Moping Round today. She has finally found what appears to be a reliable subletter, and will be shortly departing for a long-overdue, monthlong vacation in the country. The heat wave has broken, and the light has subtly shifted to that deeply shaded brilliance which presages autumn. The Brat has shown no signs of urinary difficulties, and nobly saved her from a potential wasp attack, yesterday evening.

Yet, still, Pretty Lady's tendency to episodes of mild melancholy has asserted itself once again. No doubt it is simply a matter of laziness. The remedy for this is, as Widespread Panic would have it, "Go! Put your work clothes on! Go and leave your mark!" But still, Pretty Lady is letting herself get too dark.

This is the time for reinforcements. This is the time to reach deep into one's closet, and put on clothes that remind one of being seven years old.

Seven, according to child psychologists, is a year of Mastery. It is the time when previously shrinking young girls become Bold and Forthright. Seven, Pretty Lady recalls, was a good year. It was the year she could confidently ride her bike past the end of the block, and swim in the deep end, and was given adult permission to do so freely. It was the year that other kids on the playground briefly called her "Pepper." It was a year of confidence, of freedom, well before she began to notice boys as a source of anything other than mild annoyance, when they stole her crayons and put their feet on her desk. It was the year she arbitrarily decided to pay attention in Geography class and do her homework regularly, with the result that she got an A++ on her final exam, and had her essay read aloud to the class.

(She remembers that her best friend, Adina Weisblatt, got a D-- on this same exam. Pretty Little Girl admired her for this. She felt that it took guts to get a D--; she was sure that Adina had done it on purpose, as an act of creative defiance in the face of the inanity of academia. She mused on the fact that it was no accident Adina was her best friend; she felt that there was a poetic symmetry in the bipolar extremity of their grades. In Pretty Little Girl's mind, A++ and D-- were precisely equivalent. She didn't understand why Adina seemed so mopey and out of sorts that afternoon.)

At seven, things are interesting, and they are simple, and there are no dark shadows of complexity, uncertainty and anguish lurking round the edges of the psyche. At least, there weren't for Pretty Little Girl. Those didn't really take shape until sixth grade. That is why Pretty Lady always has at least one outfit in her closet that says, emphatically, "SEVEN."

For example:

Keds. (Campers will do in a pinch; although they are still ridiculously trendy, they look enough like bowling shoes to pass for the true seven-year aesthetic.)

Too-small, pale-blue T-shirt that says 'Roller Angels," complete with a small hole and some desultory rhinestones, purchased at a yard sale.

Coney Island T-shirt.

Cut-off jeans which have been used over several seasons in which to paint houses, with the ragged bottoms rolled up.

Any cotton T-shirt with a zipper on it somewhere. (This is a fairly specific reference to Pretty Little Girl's favorite shirt, a hand-me-down from the big girls across the street; it had a blue torso, green sleeves, and a scooped yellow collar with a zipper and a ring on it. Pretty Little Girl wore this until it was forcibly seized, pulled apart, and added to the dustrag pile.)

Skirt with large pleats.

Pink jumper thing. (The one Pretty Lady donned today is linen, purchased in San Francisco as a factory second from some actual designer person; thus it does not fulfill the full-on seven-year-old code, 'cheap' and 'well-worn' being key qualities. Still, it is cheerful and sexless enough that it makes her feel like she's getting away with something.)

Cotton skirt with mushrooms and cherries printed on it, and loopy things on the bottom. (This was seriously and unjustifiably expensive, being purchased from a real live designer in her real live boutique on Fifth Avenue. But it fit so well, and was so seven, and the designer was so much like she imagines Mitzibel to be, in person (yes, Mitzibel, you. Pretty Lady does tend to get along with punked-out creative entrepreneurs) that she blew her year's clothing budget on it. She has not regretted it for a moment.

T-shirts with V-necks and cap sleeves that are raw and unhemmed, purchased from the selfsame designer.

Battered Tevas, not the sport-engineered ones, the relaxed feminine ones.

The cool-ass baseball cap.

It is Pretty Lady's fanciful notion that the more we can get in touch with our inner seven-year-old, the more effective and responsible grown-ups we will be. The archetypal seven-year-old has no need to judge, no need to impress, no interest in seduction or control. Seven-year-old clothes may be about self-expression, but they are definitely not about fashion or competition; they are simply themselves, comfortable and utilitarian. Wearing them, we may go forth to discover the world.


Pretty Lady said...

Well, Jordan, I am open to the possibility; recommendations, I have found, are everything. Do you have any personal friends in the men's magazine industry, to whom you could quietly put in a word on my behalf?

Pretty Lady said...

Heavens, I can't get them to ask questions for free. When they do, as poor Paula did below, I am all over it like an extremely feminine pirhana. They have no need to pay me. But they may send flowers if they like.

Anonymous said...

Aww, shucks!!! You have such a way of making my day :) I liked this post, particularly because I can now point at it and say to my husband, "See, I DIDN'T get dressed in the dark today, I'm just nurturing my inner seven-year-old!" Of course, when I was seven, I wore mostly Laura Ingalls sunbonnets and one particular dress made of red and white dotted swiss with an ankle-length tiered skirt and puffed sleeves. Come to think of it, that's not terribly far off from my wardrobe now. . .

And I think you should add tiaras to the list. You simply *cannot* have a boring time, even when, say, grocery shopping, when you are wearing a tiara.

Speaking of punked-out entrepreneurs. . . I just recieved a new sewing machine and about ninety-seven yards of material. What I know about sewing, I learned from Project Runway, but dammit, I'm a quick study ;)

Pretty Lady said...

Laura Ingalls sunbonnets! I am so jealous. My own dear mother believed that Laura Ingalls sunbonnets were over the top, or I would have worn them in all seasons. Ditto with the ankle-length tiered skirts. I had a tendency to be far too flouncy, a habit which Mother, with her reserved English sensibilities, deplored.

Ninety-seven yards of material should be sufficient to launch you. I am confidently expecting you to become my personal, signature designer at some point within the next five years. My income should, knock on wood, have increased enough by then that by the time you figure out the machine, I will be able to afford you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, my mom was really screwed up in a lot of ways, but I really, truly appreciate the fact that she let me dress myself from the point when I was physically capable of doing so. It didn't do much for my grade-school social life, but it certainly developed my sense of individuality. Plus, since I spent most of my days riding the propane tank I had decided was a horse, she quite sensibly decided that the sunbonnet was practical ;)