Tonight, a herd of volunteers turned up to work for the food pantry – and thank Vishnu. There was a whole lot of work to do, a new coordinator and a stranger who decided to tell me what to do. I put down my holey double bag of USDA items and found something else to do. She was not the boss of me! Plus: her wife could’ve dropped me like a bad habit. But everything turned out okay, dozens of bags were prepared and stacked neatly in bins and the shelves were neatly stocked. Every task was completed with an almost balletic precision. Then someone opened a donation bag filled with socks. We all stared for a bit, then tied them up for donation to the church thrift store because they were socks and almost no one eats those.
Siobhan: Didn’t you just buy jeans?
Tata: I bought three pair three weeks ago, yep.
Siobhan: Why are you buying jeans, then?
Tata: Remember last time we went shopping? I said, “I can’t go home without clothing because I have none.” Remember that? I’ve decided I can avoid Pants Emergencies through preemptive procurement.
Siobhan: Right, then. No more Pants Emergencies.
Tata: Speaking of which, don’t ask what I’m wearing.
Sometimes, I’m broke and eschew clothes shopping in favor of bill-paying. Sometimes, I don’t like what I see in the stores and make do with a little of this and a little of that. I don’t like owning more clothing than fits in a dresser and a small closet; I change sizes often and give things away the moment they constrict movement at all. Siobhan has threatened more than once to turn me in to What Not To Wear when I appeared at her door in a raincoat, a pajama top and –
Siobhan: Are you wearing a duvet cover?
Tata: Yes, but I stole it.
Siobhan: A stolen duvet cover! That’s still not at all clothing!
Siobhan really just wants the best for me.
Tata: When I turned up in a red vinyl mini skirt, what did you say?
Siobhan: “Where’d you get that? Off the body of a dead hooker?”
Tata: And that Halloween the gold coins wouldn’t stay glued to my boobs?
Siobhan: “Caramel sauce is not outerwear.”
Tata: Have I not worn bubble wrap to parties and a gold lame toga to bars? A red sequin dress with combat boots to an airport? My grandmother’s black velvet bathrobe to a funeral?
Siobhan: You have, and if you darken my door in sweat pants, it’s Clinton and Stacy for you!
So…yeah. I put on underwear, which is always a special occasion, and found a pair of Levi’s that actually fit at Sears for $12.98. Siobhan will believe that when she sees it.
Don’t kid yourself: I’m a freaking prize, especially if you have to live with me. I get up at a stupid hour, push myself like riot police and demand a lot from the people around me. Pete was having back trouble so I sikked a Pilates teacher and two massage therapists on him before he decided to join me on my bike ride to work every morning. He rides with me, rides around the park near the library and rides home and – hooray! – Pete’s exercising three or four more days per week. My powers: they work for Good! On the other hand, one of my friends allowed as how she got kicked out of the Jehovah Witnesses, was excommunicated and everything. I’ve been tossed out of bars, fired from jobs, asked to leave one high school, two colleges and a religious retreat; I’ve cheated on boyfriends, slept with half a town, including married men and women, and I’d do almost every wicked thing I’ve ever done again, but even I have never been kicked out of an entire religion. What’ve I done wrong?