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Gone With The Waist. And frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!

Today I officially acknowledged that I will never again in this lifetime have a waistline. Menopause is irreversible and I have decided to part with 34 beautiful leather belts worth more dollars than I care to contemplate, that will never fit this old boomer body again. I rounded them all up for consignment (the better ones) and the charity bin. I did keep half a dozen on the offchance I’ll get a parasite or the plague and manage to get skinny again. Over the years I’ve collected every width and style of belt ever invented. I’ve kept them all in case they ever came back in fashion, or, miraculously my waistline returns. It’s time I faced facts. And you know the saying . . . “If you’ve worn it once, it won’t work again.” The clothing manufacturers always manage to tweak reincarnations of various fashions so that our old pieces never quite work. And that includes belts.

May they find a forever happy home (well, at least until menopause hits the new owners).
My mother used old kilt pins to secure me in my crib as a baby.

We hang on to old things for various reasons. This morning during my belt purge I came across a sturdy 4-inch long kilt pin that my mother wore in her wool skirts when she was a teenager. She later used that same huge safety pin to secure me and then my brother under the blankets in our crib when we were babies, to keep us covered and warm. Imagine getting that one past Child Services and safety vigilantes today. That old pin is definitely a keeper though and now that I’ve found it I can see it being put to use on one of my many shawls. It could still help keep me tucked in and warm.

My dad mentioned the other day that he still has the Waterman fountain pen he bought himself when he started high school in Cobourg, Ontario in 1939. When he shared this discovery with one of the ladies at the seniors’ residence where he now lives, the next day she produced an old bottle of ink, still in its original box to go with his pen. He’s understandably reluctant to try filling the pen as the internal reservoir has probably deteriorated beyond use and he’d end up with a big mess . . . which we used to use blotters for. Remember those? Please tell me you don’t still have some.

We recently celebrated an Oktoberfest dinner with our friends Mike and Gail. Mike’s mother was born in Germany and they inherited a wonderful collection of original beer steins from the old country which we put to use sipping (??) wine at our dinner. It’s hard to part with our heritage, especially when it can be upcycled to today’s lifestyle. Another friend with a German mother didn’t have the same attachment to her collection of Hummel figurines and I completely understand. I also have my mother’s original roller skates made in 1930 with the leather strap, cast iron wheels, and the original key on a dirty string worn around my neck.

Before menopause . . . and, after menopause.

In an earlier post (Click here to read: Did you ever get rid of something and later regret it?). I expressed some regret about getting rid of certain items over the years. It’s difficult to know what to keep and what to let go of. Will I regret getting rid of those belts? I hope not and perhaps some pre-menopausal young woman will enjoy them as much as I did once upon a time. B’bye belts. Hello spandex.

The other day I watched a young woman trying on jeans in a department store. She had the cutest little bum and before I could stop myself I said aloud, “Ahhh. I remember when I used to look like that!” She laughed and replied that her parents and in-laws were pressuring her to have a baby so she knew her cute bum days were limited. That’s nothing, though, compared with what menopause does to a woman’s body. Ugh! When I was young, I never honestly thought my body would lose its waistline as I aged. We all thought those tight tummies and firm upper arms would last forever. Like those lovely leather belts, I miss my waistline but as they say, focus on your assets. We’re alive; we’re healthy and we’re surrounded by loving friends and family. That’s plenty for me. With or without a waistline. Belted or unbelted.

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Are self-checkouts a good thing or a bad thing?

Checking out directly on your cart definitely has its advantages.

There was an item on the news this week that demonstrated the future of in-store grocery shopping. Sobey’s is test-driving new shopping carts that allow you to scan your items as soon as you pull them off the shelf. Each cart is equipped with a product scanner and sensors so you can scan your purchases immediately and drop them into your (recyclable) shopping bags sitting open in the cart. Easy peasy. No checkout clerk required. And special sensors in the cart alert you if you “forget” to scan something, preventing unscrupulous shoppers from circumventing the honour system.

Although I like the idea of getting in and out of the grocery store in as little time as possible, I have mixed feelings about this new innovation. It would be wonderful to avoid checkout lineups and the process of unloading your purchases from your cart onto a conveyor belt, then having to reload them again into your bags to go to the car. It would also prevent being subjected to clerks trying to sell me the deodorant special of the week, and the lure of gossipy magazines I tend to pick up while killing time in the lineup.

My biggest concern with self-checkouts, however, is the loss of service jobs that provide essential employment for so many semi-skilled and unskilled workers. It’s no small matter. Those service jobs are disappearing everywhere at a time when we need them. McDonald’s is using computerized graphic boards so customers can customize and place their own orders, once again by-passing the human clerk. To their credit, they have compensated for the employment issue by using staff/team members to deliver trays of food to the table in many outlets,a nice little bonus. Shoppers Drug Mart is now introducing self-checkout as well and I always opt for using a real live person to make my purchases—again because of the jobs issue. Self-serve bank machines and gas pumps were early examples of machines replacing people. Somehow we were easily tricked into doing the service providers’ work ourselves with no apparent benefit. We now have to wash our own windshields and even pay service fees to the banks for using our own money.

The voice of customer service is not the same as the face of customer service.

With so many commercial transactions now being conducted online, businesses are increasingly using their customers to do the work of what we used to call ‘Customer Service’. Even customer service has now come to mean an anonymous voice in a remote call-centre, an impersonal job staffed by people in third-world countries who speak English as a second language. Despite their scripted words, “I understand”, they rarely do.

Sobey’s executives have tried to assure customers that jobs will not be lost and they insist the people who were formerly checkout clerks will be working elsewhere in the store. I’m skeptical about this even though I would love to have personnel on the floor who could quickly and correctly direct me to where the maraschino cherries are located.

When boomers were growing up in the fifties and sixties, large supermarkets were just starting to take off. Many of our mothers still did their grocery shopping in small local stores—meat from a butcher shop, produce from the greengrocer or perhaps all the weekly groceries at a small local general store. Bread and milk were delivered to our door by nice uniformed men in trucks. If you’re a particularly mature boomer like me, you may even remember the iceman bringing blocks of ice a couple of times a week. He’d usually break off some small chunks onto the sidewalk for us kids to chew on and cool off on a hot day. And we didn’t die or even get sick from eating ice off the sidewalk. We loved it.

My father grew up in a rural community, even smaller than the one I grew up in. The local village was basically a few buildings at the intersection of two roads. A weekly trip to the general store was a big deal. Dad told me that his father would dress up in his suit and tie for the weekly trip “into town” and sit on the front porch of the store catching up on the news with the other local men while their wives did the weekly shopping. And there’s a lot to be said for having a store clerk who knows your Aunt Mildred had her gall bladder out and asks how she’s doing. Catching up on who just had a baby or whose combine broke down was an early version of Facebook but conducted in person.

Seriously? What is happening to living in and enjoying the moment of one-on-one conversation with in-the-flesh friends.

Human beings need personal, real-life interaction with other human beings. It’s a fundamental part of our makeup and conducive to good health. We hear a lot about the plague of loneliness among the elderly but I suspect it’s not just older people who feel starved of human connection. It’s tragic to see a table full of young people in a restaurant or coffee shop each focussed on their smartphones, communicating with others at a distance who are obviously more important in their lives than whoever they’re sitting with. We risk losing the art of meaningful conversation. It won’t be long before even wait staff in restaurants will be replaced by smart devices on each table that allow us to place our order. Then, we’ll even be deprived of the opportunity to say “Yes. Everything’s fine, thank you” to a real human being.

I’m torn on the self-checkout issue. Are they a good thing or a bad thing? On one hand, I like the idea of avoiding the lineup at the cashier’s counter. But that cashier probably needs the job and I enjoy exchanging a few words with him or her. I usually try to make their day a little less boring by telling them I like their hair or asking them if they have special plans for the weekend. We all need that human connection. As to whether self-checkouts are a good thing or a bad thing, one thing we know for sure, self-checkouts are an inevitable thing, whether we like it or not. I plan to avoid them as much as possible. What about you?

Footnote: Two weeks later I went into my Shoppers’ Drug Mart and the self-checkout machines had disappeared, replaced by a conventional checkout with a real-life human being. Victory for our side and one small step for humankind.

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What’s your binge-worthy substance of choice?

 

Guilty. And I have the pounds to prove it.

Some of us (including me) binge on ice-cream or cookies. Others may binge-watch television sports or Downton Abbey. The beauty of streaming and ‘On Demand’ is that we can now watch what we want, when we want and that’s pretty wonderful. For those of us who binge on snack foods, packagers offer individual 100-calorie serving sizes of snacks and treats which theoretically makes it easier to not binge, but that’s a fool’s game. We just eat several packages. Who’s kidding who? I must confess to binge-watching a few television shows that I discovered after they’ve already peaked. But the chief culprit of my bingeing is reading. When I’m into a good book, the goings-on in the rest of the world cease to be.

Unfortunately, my level of productivity in household chores is inversely proportional to the skill level of the author I’m currently reading. In other words, when I’m reading a good book, nothing else gets done. Sometimes it’s better if I don’t pick up a new book when I’ve finished another one. That allows me to drift aimlessly around looking for things to do around the house. And, as we all know, one chore often leads to another—we have to keep going before we lose momentum. After I’ve washed the kitchen floor, I’m thinking I’d better haul out the ironing board before I run out of ‘steam’.

I’ve just lost the last few days of my life to another book. I even managed to stay up ‘way past midnight reading in bed—just the next couple of pages . . . just a couple more pages. It’s a slippery slope. It’s unbelievably easy to waste away a complete day when the weather is above 70 degrees (F) and I can park myself in the backyard in my outdoor LaZgirl. I read, nap, read, nap. Then, before you know it, it’s dinner time and I have to come into the house and pretend I’ve had a productive day.

But the evidence is clear. The grocery shopping didn’t get done. Dinner is something microwaveable that includes as many healthy food groups as I can fake in one package. The kitchen floor is still sticky. The dog is begging to go for a walk. The only sign I’ve done anything all day is my eyes are tired from being directed at the pages of a book for hours at a stretch, and definitely not from cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming the floors. And I’m pretty sure all that time I spent on FaceBook doesn’t qualify as productive.

Now that I’ve finished the latest Kate Atkinson novel, I’m facing a dilemma. Should I crack open another book or should I attack some of my household chores? There’s a basket of ironing, which I actually don’t find to be a chore when I set up in front of the TV and watch my PVR’d shows. The dog needs to be walked; that’s good for both of us and the weather’s fine so that’s not a chore either. The kitchen floor needs to be washed. I have some sewing alterations to do but that involves going down to my sewing machine in the basement which isn’t likely to happen in the next couple of months, what with the dog needing walking and all. And, I’m terrified to face all those shelves of crap we’ve accumulated in the basement that should be sorted and disposed of. Scary prospect. Best to avoid the basement. If I can restrain myself from starting another book, I might actually get something else done.

I do multi-task sometimes, although at my advanced age I try not to exert myself too much. In the evenings I read books and magazines while I binge-watch my TV programmes. Apart from my regular PVR’d shows like Baroness Von Sketch, The Social, CityLine and The Marilyn Denis Show, I’m currently working my “On Demand” way through The Loudest Voice, the story of Roger Ailes of FOX TV fame. I’ve already exhausted Fleabag, Letterkenny, and every British drama, comedy or crime show that managed to reach our Canadian airwaves. My husband pretty much has a monopoly on all the sports channels which he could watch 24/7. How he can tell one football game from another is a mystery to me. All they do is run and fall down, run and fall down. Boring. Fortunately, we have ‘his’ and ‘hers’ televisions. The secret to a happy marriage—and headphones, of course.

I described my ice-cream bingeing in an earlier post (click here for I’m on the Rocky Road to death by ice-cream) and had to put a halt to that. I would stand at the kitchen counter eating it directly out of the container until I felt sick. Needless to say, I’m paying for that slip with an extra ten pounds that will not be easy to shed. Reading is much more virtuous although not entirely non-fattening as it involves sitting on my ever-expanding derrière for lengthy periods of time. But reading is free (I download most of my books from the library), mind-expanding, doesn’t disturb the neighbours, is pollution-free, and sooooo satisfying. During all those years in the working world, all I wanted to do when I retired is sit in a comfortable chair and catch up on all the reading I never had time for. And that’s pretty much what I’m doing . . . living the dream. Have book . . . will binge. What’s your substance of choice?

 

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My Life as a Rat was not a fair sentence for an admission of truth

A rat is someone who snitches on another person—someone who breaks a moral code by revealing the transgressions of a friend or family member. In My Life as a Rat, a new novel by Joyce Carol Oates, the snitch is a 12-year-old girl and the price she pays for breaking the code far exceeds what is fair and justified or what she deserved. Violet Kerrigan was born the youngest in an Irish Catholic family of seven children in South Niagara, near Buffalo, N.Y. They’re a working-class family in a working-class town. She loves to eavesdrop on her older teenage brothers and one night she overhears them in a highly agitated state, discussing how they’re going to cover up their murder of a young black boy who attends the same school as Violet—a murder they committed. When the stress of trying to keep her secret becomes too much for Violet to bear, she spills the entire story to the school nurse, who in turn calls in the police.

When the truth is revealed, her brothers are arrested and charged with manslaughter. Instead of her parents protecting and defending Violet’s honesty, they rise to the defense of her guilty brothers. Her family concocts a false defense that maintains the brothers were innocent victims of white hatred by the black community. Violet is disgraced and shunned by her parents and her siblings. For her protection, she is turned over to the care of a childless aunt and uncle who live many miles away where she is expected to reinvent her life while her brothers are serving prison terms.

The tragedy is that Violet loves both her parents and her sisters and cannot understand why they have turned against her. She was a favoured daughter, an excellent student, and a good Catholic.  How could this have happened? As the years go by, she enters and finishes high school, enters college and is allowed no contact with her family. She continues her education by taking part-time college courses while working and living an anonymous life. Violet now goes by the last name of her aunt and uncle to put some distance between herself and all the negative publicity arising from the heinous crimes committed earlier by her brothers.

As Violet enters adulthood, she continues to mourn the loss of her beloved family and can’t understand why she has been ostracized. By her mid-twenties, she decides to make personal contact with her next-oldest sister, Katie, to attempt a reconciliation. One of her brothers has been released from prison and she’s hoping that he can forgive her and put the past behind them. This family drama is an insight into 1970s race relations in the United States as far north as the U.S./Canada border. It’s not an uplifting story but it does shed light on the power struggles in traditional families, the difficulties arising from alcoholism in the family, economic and social struggles as well as the resiliency of a single young woman under difficult circumstances.

I found the book hard to put down even though it was about a tragic subject. I was never entirely clear why Violet’s mother chose to defend her rogue sons instead of her daughter Violet. Perhaps it was parental blindness by the father who refused to believe in his sons’ guilt and in their home at that time, patriarchy ruled. If you figure it out, let me know. We all know Joyce Carol Oates is a marvelous writer and My Life As A Rat bears this out. I’d rate it 7 out of 10.

 

To order MY LIFE AS A RAT by Joyce Carol Oates from Amazon, click here.

Disclosure: If you order from this link, I may receive a teeny, tiny commission Thank you.

 

 

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It’s time to dump disposable fashion. Shop your closet

The retailers may die but disposable fashion lives on . . . in landfill around the world, polluting our planet.

 

The closing of Forever 21 retail outlets across Canada is a good news/bad news story. On one hand, it’s a realization that consumers are beginning to reject the disposable clothing culture, but on the other hand, it means lost jobs for young people who often get their first working experience in retail.  One of my favourite bloggers, retired university professor and fashionista Lyn Slater, The Accidental Icon posted a piece last week Clothes and Relationship: What’s Yours? about recognizing the importance of cutting back on the amount of clothing that ends up in landfill. She’s working with a designer to restyle her current pieces into something new and in keeping with her avante garde style.

The problems associated with the disposable clothing industry are not only about the actual disposal of the used clothing, but about the effects of production on the environment and human rights issues related to the labour used as well as the manufacturing and distribution of this clothing. Cheap clothing manufacturing has a serious affect on the world’s water supply and is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions.

Perhaps closing 350 Forever 21 stores is the beginning of much-needed change. Just one generation ago, we discarded only one-third of the clothing we do now. Clear recognition that we have to be much more discriminating about what we purchase and discard has prompted me to resurrect a piece I wrote one year ago. Its relevance is becoming more acute. Bottom line: shop your closet.

What is disposable fashion?

Are you sitting down? Burberry recently incinerated $37 million worth of their luxury brand merchandise that didn’t sell. Rather than dilute the cachet of their brand by offering it at discounted prices to the great unwashed masses (like us), they torched it. It must be lovely to have a business with such generous markups and profit margins that you can afford to just set fire to $37 million. That act of destruction reminded me of how casually we treat our possessions regardless of the cost. Not only are fashions from Zara, The Gap, H&M and other mass retailers treated as disposable fashion, so are premium brands. Our “affluenza” and consumerism has reached ridiculous proportions.

Natalie Atkinson’s recent piece in The Globe and Mail about extending the life of your personal possessions was a reminder that we need to be more thoughtful about what we buy and conscientious about managing our belongings. It came on the heels of a sobering documentary Clothing Waste – Fashion’s Dirty Secret which aired recently on CBC’s Marketplace. Both pieces highlighted the negative effects of disposable clothing on the environment and the facts presented left me feeling ashamed and totally committed to changing my wanton ways.

I used to feel vindicated when I dropped off old clothing at a charity bin until I saw on Marketplace what happens to my donations. Giant bales of excess used clothing sit in warehouses until they’re shipped to places like Africa or India. They’re then sold in street markets as used clothing—which seems all fine and dandy—until we’re shown the piles of clothing being burned behind the stalls—clothing that doesn’t sell. Brand names like Tommy Hilfinger, H&M, Old Navy and others, all go up in smoke. Even third world countries don’t want or don’t know what to do with our cast-offs.

From here . . .

We didn’t start off this way

When boomers were growing up we didn’t have the vast, disposable wardrobes we see today. In addition to a few everyday school clothes, we had a good Sunday outfit which did double duty for going to birthday parties or Christmas concerts. One winter coat, one pair of boots, one pair of everyday school shoes and one pair of good shoes was the norm and they lasted until we outgrew them. Our parents’ wardrobes were equally modest. Some of us perhaps remember our fathers having shoes resoled to extend their life. I grew up in a house built in the 1880s with no closets. My spartan wardrobe was either folded in a couple of dresser drawers or hung on hooks on the back of my bedroom door and I did just fine with fewer items.

To here . . .

How far we’ve fallen. How many boomer gals have commandeered the entire master bedroom closet for racks of clothes (many of which we don’t wear or they don’t fit) and relegated our partners’ clothes to the spare bedroom closet? It’s an insidious process, a slippery slope and regular culling, unfortunately, invites more buying.

When I first started working in 1965, I was thrilled to finally have my own money to spend on mini dresses, shoes and even fabric to sew my own version of Twiggy-inspired fashion. How could we not fall in love with what fashion was offering in the sixties? It was a total transformation from boring and practical to colourful and fun. We wanted more. Over the years, boomer gals have spent small fortunes on dressing for success, weekend wear and special event dresses. To this day I’m still filled with self-loathing when I think that I spent the equivalent of nearly a week’s wages on that burgundy ultra-suede suit that I wore for one season in the seventies. Then, there are all the matching shoes, purses, coats, jackets, accessories—well, you get the picture. Who among us wouldn’t love to have some of that wasted money now earning interest in our RRSP.

And, finally, here.

What to do, starting with myself:

I know my triggers. From now on I’m going to be more discriminating about what I purchase and avoid the following potential hazards:

  1. Trips to the mall just acquaint me with more things I do not need so I’ll minimize the number of times I visit the mall. Ditto for internet shopping.
  2. Fashion magazines are bait for suckers like me. Seeing something I like starts me longing for it. See Item 1 above.
  3. When I see things on women’s television shows that include fashion and home decorating segments I’m motivated to shop. I’d be further ahead reading my books or going for a walk instead of watching those programs.
  4. Comparing myself with the beautiful people is counterproductive. How often do we think if we just had that blouse, that bracelet, that designer handbag or pair of sunglasses, our lives would be complete.
  5. Advertising for the latest skincare or makeup product guaranteed to solve all our problems is so tempting and generally a complete waste of money. I have to work on tuning out the marketing ‘noise’ and stick with whatever basics work for me.
  6. The wellness industry including thousands of websites such as GOOP are constantly setting us up to think we need improving with supplements, diets, cleanses and other new age gimmicks that are generally a waste of money. Tune out.

This is not a definitive list but it’s a good start. These steps are actionable immediately and would make a difference not only in my self-esteem and the environment but more importantly, my bank account. We can still feel great about ourselves without being sucked into the vortex of disposable fashion, useless health and beauty products and general consumerism. Regular culling of our closets and shopping our closets serves to remind us that we already have too much and we should be much more discriminating about what we buy. I’ll definitely buy into that. Starting now. What about you?

http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2015-2016/clothing-waste-fashions-dirty-secret

http://fortune.com/2018/07/19/burberry-burns-millions/

 

 

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Did you ever get rid of something and later regret it?

This fabulous Pat McDonagh coat would be just as stylish today as it was when I bought it forty years ago. Mine was a different, better colour of tweed.

Back in the 1970s when I was finally making decent money, living the life of a modern career gal who had to put her best fashion foot forward, I invested in a winter coat at the Your Choice store in Scarborough Town Centre, that cost an embarrassing amount of money. It was by Canadian designer Pat McDonagh. Made of black and grey wool tweed shot through with cobalt blue, it came almost to my ankles, had giant banded sleeves and shoulder pads, and a large, soft, open pleat down the flared back. I. Absolutely. Loved. That. Coat. I wore it with a cobalt blue scarf, tall boots and felt like a million dollars whenever I put it on. Why oh why did I ever get rid of it? Did I consign it or just stuff it into the bag for Goodwill? I was so casual about its disposal I can’t even remember where it went. I regret it soooo much and wish I still had that coat.

My friend Perry had the rare privilege of living in swinging London in the sixties. Boomers will remember London was the epicenter of the fashion universe and one of the hippest stores at that time was Biba. Vogue’s Anna Wintour actually worked in the fitting rooms at Biba back then. According to Perry, “Biba was near where I used to live in London and was a mecca for all the dollybirds. I bought one of her Victorian-style lamps in velvet with a long fringe around the edge in a colour called Oxblood. It was my proudest possession. I sold it recently in a garage sale for $10.00.” Original Biba items now command hefty prices on eBay and perhaps if Perry had been a bit more discriminating about how she sold it, she could have supplemented her old age wine budget significantly.

The other night I was watching a television rerun of Carnal Knowledge from 1971 starring Jack Nicholson. There’s a quick scene toward the end of the movie where he’s flipping through a slide show of his previous lovers for his old college friend played by Art Garfunkle. In a quick couple of seconds, he skips over a black and white shot of a lean, dark-haired girl lounging in a Bentwood rocker. That shot instantly transported me back forty-eight years to when I first started to work for EllisDon. I was sharing an apartment with my friend Joan from my 1965-67 Willard Hall days. We lived downtown on Alexander Street behind Maple Leaf Gardens. We were both broke, in transition, and the decor in our apartment reflected our pecuniary status. We had a rollaway cot in the living room that served as a couch. Beside it was a side table we’d fashioned from two stacks of old copies of the Yellow Pages. The nicest piece of furniture we had was a “chrome suite”, an arborite kitchen table with four avocado green vinyl chairs.

The Bentwood rocker I purchased in 1971 was my idea of the ultimate in decorating chic.

In celebration of my new high-paying job ($115.00 per week; it was 1971), I went to Cargo Canada (an earlier incarnation of Pier I Imports) on Yorkville Avenue, before it became gentrified. There, I purchased a Bentwood rocker that elevated our decor to stratospheric levels. I had to splurge on a cab to get it home and buy a Philips screwdriver to put it together. I loved and was so proud of that chair—even though it had the peculiar habit of traveling across the floor whenever I rocked in it. A couple of years ago, after kicking around in my basement for too many years, I reluctantly sold it at a yard sale. As soon as I saw that chair on Carnal Knowledge I missed it and desperately wanted it back. Sigh!

And, what about all the lovely gold jewelry we’ve sold over the years for next to nothing? The retailer would weigh it, give us a pittance for its karat value and if there happened to be any precious stones like diamonds in the pieces . . . well . . . we’d get nothing extra for them. No wonder retailers love buying our old jewelry. Our taste in jewelry changes and often we inherit pieces that aren’t to our taste so we’re happy to unload it for whatever we can get. What can you do?

It’s not just big-ticket items we regret disposing of. In the 1980s I had a CoverGirl eye shadow in a colour called “Brick” that I tossed and I’ve never been able to find one I liked as much. Or that Elizabeth Arden lipstick from the seventies in the most perfect shade ever invented called Pink Coral. It’s funny how we remember such incidentals. We’ve all mourned lipsticks that the cosmetics companies quit producing and spend hours scouring the internet for end-of-line deals on discontinued cosmetics.

My friend Terry has kept something I hope she never gets rid of. Every so often she brings out a tiny, lime-green leather mini-skirt that she used to wear in the sixties. It’s probably a foot wide and a foot long and originally had a matching jacket. “My father was always horrified when I walked out the door in that outfit, with long brown leather boots” she said. That always brings on howls of laughter when we see it and we start comparing stories of some of the outfits we wore back when. I think she should mount it in a shadow box and display it on the wall. It’s a priceless example of when boomer fashion and boomers were actually cool.

Vintage cars are guaranteed to evoke fond memories.

If we asked the men in our lives what item they wish they still owned it would likely be an old car. Maybe that’s why boomers love going to vintage car shows. We look at those shiny old Mustangs, Chevys and Ford Fairlaines that evoke memories of all the fun we had steaming up the windows in them with Phil Spector’s wall-to-wall sound blasting on the car radio. I’ve kept my black and white Beatles bubble gum cards from 1963 and still have a few of my well-used old 45s and LPs, but have nothing to play them on. Can’t bring myself to part with them though. My husband still has the marked decks of playing cards he used to cheat with when he attended Ryerson in the early sixties. He loves to bring them out and baffle the grandkids with their secret powers.

I’ve kept both of my wedding dresses. I sewed the first one myself and can’t believe that I was once that skinny. It still has a little swipe of makeup on the neckline from having difficulty changing out of it when the zipper stuck. I had to get into my ‘going-away outfit’ (remember them?) after the reception that day in 1974. Wedding dresses back then were much more modest than they are today. We would have never considered displaying cleavage or bare shoulders in a wedding dress. Times were different. I also still have the wedding album from my first wedding in 1974 even though I never look at it and rarely keep photos of anything today. In fact, I don’t even take many photos these days because I can’t be bothered keeping track of them, and I’m horribly selfie-averse.

There are probably other things I wish I’d kept but the larger problem has now become keeping too much. We don’t miss those big old stereos, the huge televisions we spent way too much money on when big screens first hit the market, our wardrobes of sweat-inducing crimpolene or that orange shag rug that had to be raked after it was vacuumed. We all have garages, basements, closets and even storage units full of crap we know we should get rid of. But, it’s hard to part with the story of our lives as represented by various possessions. Thanks to our hoarding habits, decluttering has now become a highly profitable multi-million dollar industry. There are quite a few old boyfriends I’m thankful I kicked to the curb and too many fashion mistakes I happily kissed goodbye.  If I could have one thing back, though, I think it would be that Pat McDonagh winter coat. It would still work and I still miss it. What about you? What have you given away that you still wish you had?

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