I have this black suit; it’s my suit-mate, I think. My body and the suit have gotten along even through the worst of times. Even when the doctor told me I was gaining too much in pregnancy. Even when my mother told me I was gaining too much over honeymoon dinners. Even when I ‘brisk walked’ all around town till my waist showed again. The suit (almost) always fit.
See, it looks pretty simple, but it’s made of the marvelous fabric called knit. As the female body goes through the miraculous experience of bearing a child, the body stretches. So did the suit. As my body was bouncing back after the babies, so did the suit.
But well, whom am I kidding. A mother’s body is never perfect. There are stretch marks and other imprints left by the child that once called your womb home. So is it with my suit.
When my friends and I went out to a tseduka event the other night, I didn’t spend too much time at the closet wondering what to wear. Besides, my shoes are black and best tichel has a matching border, so I was dressed and ready to go in no time.
I enjoy parties, for many reasons. One of which is food. Another which is the absolute confidence that I’ll walk out with the grand prize. But mostly it’s the catching-up factor. Sitting around and schmoozing about things we never thought we’d ever talk about.
I was having a good time, particularly enjoying someone’s pile of cheese that was meant to be a cheesecake, when an older woman tapped me on the shoulder. She was of a small frame and wore just a tichel.
“veibele” she whispers, sparing me the embarrassment from my friends. “Your neck is completely open.”
“Oh, thanks” I mutter, hoping she’ll go away fast. I know. One of my suit’s stretch marks is at the neck. All the knit got dragged down a little.
But she insisted. I wasn’t tsnuis. At an all female party she could not tolerate me going around with a neck. She wanted me to get a pin. Pulling down the shell from the back didn’t help. I must put in a safety pin.
So she searches her hem and asks around but nobody volunteers a pin. Until an idea strikes her. With all the loose knit I’ve got going, I might be hiding the treasure. And she was right. She kindly asked that I offer up the little silver thing that held together a bunch of fabric at the waist.
Me being myself, I didn’t decline. My party wasn’t ruined, but I got home almost blue in the face from lack of oxygen, and was dragging my skirt in both hands for or else it would’ve landed at my ankles.
Inside I felt anger stirring, as part of me wanted to open my mouth and give it to this frow for minding my business and making a scene. But the other side of me has been trying to respect that innocent attempt to do the right thing. I’m trying very hard to appreciate people that simply want to fix our little slips; a sign of hair that’s escaped the turban or a first button that’s been left open. They stop a conversation at its peak or 'humorously' point out that the pencil shoes you’re wearing look hideous (you yourself said it a few years ago…). They close your sweater if it fell to the sides or tug your skirt down a bit. The male guards shush in beth medrish when others shmooze or ask women to move over or stand up if they’re making themselves conspicuous. They’re just trying to help.
But should they?