August 17, 2004

the snowsuit

Frank was this really cool older guy from Jersey City who often hung around in my neighborhood. His girlfriend Donna lived around the corner from me and everyone in the neighborhood thought they were just the most awesome couple ever. She had mountains of teased curly hair on her head, caked-on makeup, fuck-me pumps and a fire-engine red Trans Am. I wanted to be Donna. All the younger kids often sat on Donna's front stoop and talked to her and Frank while we nursed our sexual and non-sexual crushes alike. My younger sister and I hung on Frank's every word. One day he told us a joke that we thought was the funniest thing ever. "Hey girls, how do you spell diarrhea?" We attempted to spell it and he stopped us and said, "No. It's D-I-dash-two-farts-and-a-splash!" I didn't think I'd ever stop laughing. I nearly gave myself a case of "the cha" from all that abdominal heaving.

The next day I went shopping with my younger sister, my cousin, my aunt and my mother. For some reason, the younger sister and I thought it would be cool to have full-length snowsuits. Yes, you read that right. I was about 11 and she was 9. I had no business wearing a snowsuit at that age. Yet, I wanted one. The cousin was seriously into hunting so he came along with my aunt to stock up on layered clothing at the factory outlet. I picked out a red snowsuit and the younger sister got an identical one in blue. There was a diamond-shaped patch on the left shoulder with an embroidered skier on it. I felt like Suzy Chapstick with my new ensemble. We were pleased with our purchases and left.

I don't remember why but my mother and aunt had to go back into the store. We were left alone in the car with the cousin who, I might add, could be a real prick when he wanted to be. But he was older and the younger sister and I were always in a bid to make our older siblings and cousins think we were cool. So the sister said to him, "Hey, do you know how to spell diarrhea?" I didn't want to be left out so I joined in and we squealed and laughed our way through the punchline. We saw the aunt and the mother approaching and quickly squelched the raucous giggling and swore the cousin to secrecy since our mother did not like that kind of talk. In our family, getting caught telling a joke with the word "fart" in it was just as damning as getting caught snorting a pound of coke. In my mother's eyes, the two crimes were equal in severity.

The car doors opened and the aunt and the mother immediately asked us what we were up to. The younger sister and I were as thick as thieves and were used to forming a united front. "Nothing!" we chimed in unison. I looked over towards the cousin and saw the evil glimmer in his eye. I knew we were doomed. He said through a wicked grin, "Guess what joke I just learned?" My sister and I looked panic-stricken. We begged and pleaded with our eyes for him to shut up. But with much pleasure and gusto, he repeated word-for-word our new favorite joke. My mother was incensed because not only were her two wee girls dealing in crude jokes, but she was made to look bad in front of her gossipy sister-in-law. She said, "I have a good mind to march you back into that store and return those snowsuits!" NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! We protested, apologized and groveled profusely and the mother soon relented. We did get a severe talking to when we got home though but the snowsuits were at least safe.

A few weeks later we had a significant snowfall. The younger sister and I were thrilled to put on our snowsuits and go out and play without getting all cold and soggy. We weren't out the door 10 minutes before someone made fun of our outfits. I wanted no part of mine anymore. After lunch I tried going out with my old jacket and pants but my mother ordered me back inside to put the snowsuit on. The younger sister was equally pissed to be wearing such an obvious target for ridicule. What were we thinking when we asked for these?!?! At least that time when we convinced the mother in the supermarket that we liked Kix, we were able pawn off the cereal on the two older sisters when we realized that it wasn't all sweet and sugary. Otherwise, what's the point of eating it? But we were stuck in this case. A snowsuit is not edible. We not only hounded our mother to buy these things but we even rescued them when they were nearly taken from us!!!

I don't know if there were two more miserable-looking kids out there on the snow piles. I had to wear it a few more times before I outgrew it but I did try repeatedly to ditch it. But the mother wouldn't allow it. It didn't occur to me then but the younger sister and I should have just banded together and said, "Hey ma! How do you spell diarrhea?"