Have you ever experienced the warm-comfort that comes from owning one PERFECT article of clothing? An article of clothing that, when worn, makes you feel young/chic/thin/perfectly pulled together. I bought my black linen trousers at a store called “Diva” (ha!) in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They were exactly the right length (no small task given my height and shape) and the inseam did not sag down like some bad-ass hip-hopper jeans. I could wear them with a nice t-shirt for school or paired with a lovely, low-cut lace top to the opera. This was the most expensive piece of clothing I had purchased at that time in my life and worth every peso. These were my all-occasion, had-them-for-ever, please-don’t-ever-leave-me trousers.
I know you have an equivalent. I am talking about the article of clothing you would save from your burning home along with your wedding photos. (Don’t even try to tell me that you would never be so shallow…)
Yesterday, my grade 8 students came bursting into my third floor classroom for English class. It was period 6 so they had just had lunch and patio time and they were out of their minds… but in a good way. I decided to hop up onto the table at the front of my room until they took their seats and settled down a bit.
It always come down to one defining moment…
The corner of the table is a bit rough and, with its greedy little splinter-fingers, it reached up and grabbed hold of my pants. I heard the linen ripping and froze. Shoot! After a moment, one of my students saw the look on my face and asked LOUDLY, “What?”
“I just ripped my trousers on the table.”
The girls let out a very sympathetic “Ohhhhhhhhhhh.” (Each one was imagining her own favourite piece of clothing… I am sure of it)!
The boys said nothing. So wise, these boys I have taught for nine months.
I had no idea how big the rip was but I knew it was pretty bad… I could actually feel the breeze against my bare thigh.
Finally, the same Yoda-wise girl said, “Miss, do you have a sweater with you? You know, one that buttons up?”
“Good. Now, you should wrap it around your waist like a skirt and tie it.”
I shuffled sideways, keeping my legs very close together. To their credit, the kids waited quietly as I sat down… Oh, there’s the fabric of the chair against my leg. Bad rip, bad rip! I pulled the cardigan off the back of my chair and tied it around my waist just as I had been instructed.
“Good,” the student said. This particular girl who loves music and dancing and hanging out with her friends and is able to think clearly about rips in trousers when all around her are paralysed with embarrassment… this girl is currently failing my English class. It’s a good reminder that there are all kinds of ways to be smart.
I taught most of that class and the next from my roll-ey chair in the corner of the room and, when it was time to leave the school at the end of the day, I made damned sure that no one was behind me on the stairs.
The trousers… they are done. There can be no Herculean effort to save them. The rip had clearly been coming for some time and I had not been paying attention. I will place them in the garbage later today and say a word of thanks for six or seven good years of faithful service.
And teachers, my advice to you is to always keep a cardigan on the back of your chair. You just never know…