Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Surrender the pink.

See Quinn.

See Quinn drive.

Drive, Quinn, drive.

See Quinn look.

Look, Quinn, look.

See Quinn not find.

Swear, Quinn, swear.

See Quinn drive.

Drive, Quinn, drive.

Daughter’s tap teacher decided it was simply too obvious to have them wearing black leotards, tights and tap shoes for their recital. No, my baby will be flailing away at shuffle-ball-change in some combination of pink and denim. If absolutely necessary, there could be a touch of black. How we combined those colors was parent’s choice, but we’d be working within that palette.

When alerted to this three weeks ago, I did what I always do when given new information; I forgot it. When she sprung from class two weeks ago and handed me a sheet detailing the rehearsal schedule and wardrobe requirements, I carefully folded it, put in the my purse, and forgot about it again.

Last week, I noticed several children were arriving with pink clothing over their arms, showing these objects to the teacher. Being as I am a naturally curious person, I asked Daughter after class what was going on.

“The teacher wants to see our pink clothing before the recital, to make sure it’s bright enough”, she explained, attempting to untie her tap shoes while somehow managing to knot them more tightly.

Oh, right. Something about pink. I undid a shoe knot with one hand while fishing around in my purse with the other. I found and unfolded the notice. The pink item of clothing had to be bright pink. That was underlined, bold-faced, and italicized, which seemed a little insulting. I got it, you want bright pink. Once I remember the notice, unfold it and read it, you don’t have to tell me twice.

Daughter being who she is sartorially, we have plenty of bright pink options. The night before the next class, I tossed through her shirts. We have bright pink in long-sleeve, short-sleeve, long-sleeve with cat logo and short-sleeve with only the teensiest food stain on the front which I can turn to the back. We brought them all in to class, draped over her arms like overly-affectionate pythons. She spoke briefly to her teacher and walked out again.

“None of them are bright enough.”

“Really?”, I said disbelievingly. In any of these shirts, I would have described my daughter to someone trying to find her on the playground as “The one in the bright pink shirt”. I caught the teacher’s eye; she shook her head “No” and shrugged as if this was beyond her control. Apparently, she is only the conduit through which the muse of tap-dance teachers works and she is powerless but to demand brighter pink.

Daughter pointed to another girl in her class. “She said Mia’s mom found the right color”. I looked at Mia, shaded my eyes and looked again. Oh, that pink.

For those of you old enough to remember the eighties, it’s that flourescent pink. When you look at it and then look away, it still leaves traces of the color on your retina. Even without seeing it, you know you are in the same room with that color, because you hear the humming. That pink.

The girls commenced tapping. I found Mia’s mother. “Where did you find the shirt?”, I began without preamble.

“Limited, Too”, she answed, “but it was on the sale rack, and it was the only one”.

Dead end. A quick survey of the few mothers who had so far found the mystical color was fruitless. One mother had dyed a shirt, one mother had cut down a pair of leggings from her misguided eighties youth, and another mother had spent forty-eight dollars. I don’t spend forty-eight dollars on clothing for Daughter that I actually like. I am certainly not spending nearly fifty dollars on clothing for Daughter which will make me start humming “Karma Chameleon”.

After class, I dropped Daughter off for her usual time with my mother, and headed out. I had a few options, and they were all over the city. I associate the neon colors with cheap, disposable clothing, not to mention warnings of hazardous waste. Methodically, I attacked each store which specializes in low-priced trendy clothing for children, the sort of place I know of because I usually drive by them and shudder. The best part of the experience was walking into these kinds of stores and not having even a moment’s feeling of regret I hadn’t come in before. These were the sort of stores created to answer the question, “Where, oh where, can I find a poorly-made bra-cut top for my three year-old?”

If Daughter’s dance teacher had visualized them in shiny track suits with the word “Princess” across each butt in script, I would have been done in fifteen minutes. Flourescent pink, however, was notable in its absence. Across the calender I keep in my head, I started writing “Find bright pink shirt” into every day until the recital.

Driving back to pick up Daughter, spent and frustrated, I happened to see a dance-supply store. Can’t hurt, I thought, and at the very least, I’ll pick up a clean leotard for the ballet recital. The ballet teacher’s only wardrobe request had been No food stains, please. I choose to believe that wasn’t directed specifically towards my family.

I walked into the store and the owner looked up from her Anne Rice novel.

“Can I help you?”, she asked.

“Yes, I-“, I began, and stopped as something blared at me from the corner of my vision. The color! They had something in that Godforsaken color! I think I made some sort of bleating sound of triumph as I jeted across the store and grabbed it. It was a shirt of some kind, thin enough so it was meant to be worn over a leotard, I guessed. I turned over the price tag; fifteen dollars. Yes! The mental calender was cleared, leaving room for “Avoiding writing” and “Washing cats”.

I grabbed a clean leotard and brought my precious goods to the counter. Having watched my pathetic little dance of triumph, she held up the pink shirt and said smilingly, “Guess this was what you were looking for, huh?”

“You have no idea,” I said in relief, “I searched all afternoon, and then I walked in and it was right over-“ and I turned and pointed to the clothing rack where I had found it “there…”. My voice died away.

In in my excitement in finding the right color, I hadn’t noticed anything else. Now I examined the rack more closely. I turned back to the owner.

“That’s stripper’s clothing, isn’t it?”

Her smile faded.

“Well, not necessarily…”

“Are those pleather hot-pants hanging next to my daughter’s shirt? And ass-less chaps?”

“They could be” she answered obliquely.

I now looked at the shirt on the counter again, through new eyes. It wasn’t sheer because it was meant to be worn over something, it was sheer because the rent doesn’t pay itself. The shirt which was going to be slightly loose on an athletic grade-school girl was actually meant to stretch across the finest silicone America could jam under skin. My daughter might be the only person who wore this shirt who didn’t sometimes answer to the name of “Brandee”.

We stared at one another in silence for a second. She asked politely, “Do you still want to buy it?”

Without a second’s hesitation, I answered “Oh, yes.”

Because when it comes to Daughter, I am a pragmatist. No situation is perfect. I wish her school had more of a language program. I have to work around her piano teacher’s day job. Her shirt for her tap-recital was designed to be peeled off to the song “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

Eh. So long as it doesn’t come with its own pole, it should be fine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn, I'm a first-time reader of your blog...and I'm laughing out loud. I'm a grandmother now; my days of hunting for 'just the right outfit' for my daughter are long gone - but not forgotten. Thank you for bringing it all back.
Susan Granger

3:08 PM  
Blogger Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

OMG you sound just like me when I've searched far and wide for shirts for school plays, Halloween costume accessories, and so forth. However, I must say that I've never bought stripper garb. I wonder if our town has a store that carries that sort of thing...

4:23 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

don't be dissing the pole.
well, unless there's money being thrown, in which case...
really. kidding.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Now, to complete this story, you must listen closely at the recital to hear if anyone says "Hey! My dad's girlfriend has that shirt!" Then, you can snicker silently.

I still have a closet full of unsuitable clothing that may or may not work for various plays my kids were in.

Oh, they are all grown now, but you just never know when someone might call and inquire as to whether or not I have a wool plaid shirt that would be suitable for someone wishing to play Mr. Edward's in "Little House on the Prairie".

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So funny! I knew there would be a twist but never saw the stripper thing coming. I thought you might end up at Ross with Lil Skank.


5:01 AM  
Blogger Feral Cat Protection Agency said...

Neon Pink of the 80's--not enough RIT pink dyed to reproduce it, it was probably made from some ...special process.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes for the kind of laughter where you have to be careful not to inadvertently shoot things out of your nose.

7:15 AM  
Blogger cornutt said...

Found your site through Jen and have become a loyal reader. You have such a way of telling a story - I lost a little beverage with this one.

Nicely done.

7:35 AM  
Blogger OHN said...

I have been in this situation too many times--usually with a certain color sock that HAS to be the same for the whole team. You get the color "assignment" and get to the only store in town that has 2 pair in stock and the team has 15 kids..do the math. It makes me crazy.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Dodi said...

OK, see? Isn't this just my luck? My 4 year old daughter just broke her arm 2 weeks ago (freak fall on to grass in the park, who knew?) and is sporting a NEON pink cast right now! Of course, HER dance recital outfit is light blue crushed velour leotard with baby pink flowers and soft white lace (and actually very cute, which is surprising given that description). Her cast clashes with the outfit - but would have made your life so much easier, right? Plus, then it would have given me the opportunity to say, "..but it goes PERFECTLY with what her dance teacher is having them wear - Luck of the Irish", rather than, "Are you kidding me? 6 weeks in a cast during swim season? I am truly Karma's scratching post."

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn, I've been reading your blog for a little while now and have enjoyed it...but this post made me laugh out loud. I can totally relate having been through similar situations with two daughters, but mostly I relate to "I carefully folded it, put it in my purse, and forgot it again"...I'm not the only one!

6:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i recently had the pleasure of making 4 mini-plaid skirts for my 16-yr-old daughter and 3 of her friends dancing in the local high school play. i made them 3" longer than the original. Because I can.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wandered into this blog quite by accident and oh, it made me laugh. Repeatedly. Noisily. Thigh-pounding, chortling, spit-on-the-screen laughter that I haven't felt in months. Because it's true, every word of it.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
anna in spain, ever in your debt

8:11 AM  
Blogger repsac3 said...

I suppose I shouldn't play the part of the language police, but I had to read this sentence a few times before I the correct meaning struck me like a brick:

"I don’t spend forty-eight dollars on clothing for Daughter that I actually like."

(Wait a minute. I'd swear Quinn said she only has one dau... OHHH! nevermind!)

You never fail to satisfy, m'lady... Already looking forward to the next installment in your life story...

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn, how ironic - you've gone from being one of the few parents with enough sense to avoid the "baby hooker look" (aka anything Britney Spears has popularized) - to buying ACTUAL stripper clothes!

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a quite lovely article in though. We must hinour and respect our parents and without any dupe. There's nothing impossible with anything to make childrens happier with different various of things.

1:58 AM  

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