My mother loved early morning picnics, walks in the woods, fishing on a riverbank, small social gatherings. She kept a spotless house, she sewed, she gardened, she canned, she baked, and all while taking care of my dad and me.
Back in the day it was customary for friends and family to drop in unannounced for an evening or a Sunday afternoon. She always had a snack she could offer, or fresh pie and a cup of coffee to serve. She was never caught short.
But she loathed going to fancy dos — the dances organized by dad’s fraternal organizations or a PTA benefit. Oh, she’d dutifully refurbish an old dress for the occasion or make a new one. And she’d try to do something with her flyaway blonde hair ahead of time even though the home perms she’d used left her frizzed. To make her rough hands presentable, she’d slather them with Vaseline and wear white cotton gloves to bed. Inevitably futile.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Put me in grubby jeans, hand me a trowel and I’m happy. Drop by for tea and I’ll welcome you with open arms and dirty hands. But tell me I have to go to a party or a reception and I’ll come up with some excuse.
I remember one evening when my parents were getting ready to go to a dance that was to be preceded by a cocktail party at the home of friends. Dad was impatient. He loved those evenings and couldn’t wait to go.
Mom was fretting and making faces at her reflection as she fiddled with her hair and makeup. “I hate to go anyplace before I go anyplace,” she fumed.
She’d gotten all “gussied up,” as dad called it, but by the time they arrived at the main event her baby fine hair would look like cotton candy, her dress would be mussed and, most likely, she’d have a runner in her stockings. Worse, her lipstick might stray into the tiny lines around her mouth or there could be a bit of green between her teeth from the spinach dip that was all the rage then.
So much anxiety and they hadn’t even left the house!
I laughed then, but now I know.
To go someplace before you go anyplace, for someone who doesn’t even like to get ready once, is torture.
Like mother, like daughter.