Whose idea was it to make a Mother Ginger costume out of a Simplicity pattern?
Not mine, if you’re asking.
It’s December 10 today and the temperature’s pushing sixty-five. After a cold snap around Thanksgiving, the tulips think winter is over and are pushing their heads through the back yard dirt. I keep yelling at them to go back down and keep napping, but they don’t listen to me any more than my kids do.
Garry, age sixteen going on one-hundred-and-four (or so you’d think from how much time he actually spends moving), is planted in front of the television set as usual. He pushes the sofa right up to it so his reflexes work better, he says. The only muscles in his body that get any use are his thumbs. I keep telling that boy video games are going to rot his brain right out, but he don’t listen. He asked for one of them special video-game chairs for Christmas. I went out and bought him one, for two reasons. One, to make him shut up. Two, so my sofa will stay put and maybe I can sit on it every once in awhile.
Dawn is my angel. Well, in comparison anyway. She’s fourteen and has got herself eyelashes that go all the way up to her forehead. All she has to do is look at me with those big blue eyes and I’ll give her anything. (And she knows it, too.) I don’t remember them eyelashes being like that when she was younger, but she says I just have a bad memory and didn’t take enough pictures of her back then. All she wants for Christmas is gift certificates to these make-up places. I guess she feels like she doesn’t wear enough already.
But this Mother Ginger costume is on account of my youngest, Sebastian, who’s twelve and somehow got pulled into being something in the Nutcracking production they’re putting on down at the local theater. They used to show movies down there when the economy was good. But after it all turned sour the place shut down, and now they just open for special shows. It’s an old spider-webby place with ripped red velvet seats, but we all troop down there to watch our kids perform whatever at whatever time of the year whenever it suits someone to throw something together.
This woman who runs the show is named Miss Ellis Freeborn. Yes, Ellis is her first name, which may be the most ridiculous thing I ever heard a woman called. Anyhow, she is about four-foot-two-inches tall and thirty-five pounds too heavy, but she’s got it into her head that she’s qualified to be a ballet teacher. She struts around in these little healed dancing shoes in a flowy skirt with her hair up in a little knot and everybody just listens to her. She teaches at the middle school, I guess – Social Studies or some such subject – and she was the one who roped Sebastian into this Nutcracking thing. Told him he could get extra-credit. As if Nutcracking has anything to do with Social Studies. My foot!
And then at rehearsal I guess she asked whose parents had a sewing machine. And Sebastian, just to be spiteful like usual, raised his hand and yelled out, “My Mama’s a real good sewer.”
Next thing I know, Miss Ellis Freeborn is prancing up to my front door with her arms full of white fabric and a Simplicity pattern and telling me this and that and giving me all sorts of measurements for Clem Bailey who works at the hardware store. I guess she talked him into putting on makeup and wearing a dress on stage for all Sashawalla to laugh at. And here’s me, making his dress.
I gotta string all this wire through the skirt to make it poke out right so that about twenty little snots can fit underneath.
Sebastian sniggers every time he hears me cursing under my breath about this darn costume. And I swear I’m going to beat the living tar out of her if Miss Ellis Freeborn calls me on the telephone one more time to ask if I’m done with it.
No, I am not done with it. The last time I pulled out this sewing machine was in 1985. Trying to relearn myself to sew takes considerable time, so nobody should be hassling me about it. Just be grateful I was willing to do it at all, that’s my thinking.
Meantime, I haven’t gotten no Christmas shopping done, except for the video game chair. And I haven’t had no time to go down to the beauty salon, so all my white roots are showing. Can’t even go to the grocery store these days I’m so ashamed. We’re on macaroni and cheese for the sixth night in a row.
I’m so mad at Miss Ellis Freeborn, I could spit.
And probably the only thing Sebastian is getting for Christmas is a big white mess of a dress he can put on after the show’s over. That’s all you deserve, Sebastian Reginald Harris. Teach you to go in league against me with Miss Ellis Freeborn. You’re going to be getting a nice, big white dress wrapped up in Santa paper on Christmas morning. And who’s gonna be sniggering then, huh?
But Merry Christmas, anyhow, everyone. I’m sure I’ll find a way to pull through this. I always do. Clem Bailey’ll be wearing something next Friday night up on stage. Just hope none of those twenty snots get their eyes poked out on this darn wire while they’re dancing around under there. That would sure be a pity.
Thanks to Dawn Shultz who gave me the three inspirational words for this story: ginger, tulip and simplicity. I was experimenting with voice for this one. And you can tell I have Nutcracker on the brain. My girls performed in the ballet this week, so the word GINGER popped out at me big time. Thanks, Dawn, for your words! I hope you liked the story, despite its quirkiness.