It’s nineteen seventy something and you’re at the Hadassah Bazaar in Toronto, in the days when such places had no crowds so that you could go on a whim, casually waltz in and wander about. When the perfect white shirt cost ten cents, a shirt you would wear for years until it actually fell so badly apart it could no longer be repaired. A shirt with exactly the right length sleeves (cuffed but not quite to the wrist) and the right blousony looseness (not overly, just right), the kind of magical fabric (cotton) that allows you to tuck or not tuck (you prefer the not-tuck) and that understands how you walk and sit and stand and never has to be adjusted. The kind of shirt you are still thinking and writing about all these decades later because it was the first piece of clothing that when you put it on you were yourself. The kind of shirt that reminds you what clothes are for.
This is the nineties now, in a large department store, the sort of place where you have to take seventeen escalators to buy a pair of socks, during which travels you pass floors of many purposes and in seasonal colours. You would never be in such a store (see above) except to accompany a friend’s mother, a woman more than twice your age who dresses mostly in mauve linen pants and matching blouses and matching jewellery and sometimes prim dresses that end somewhere between her knees and ankles, who wears pumps and stockings even in summer and can most of the time hardly think of a single thing to add to a conversation, who hardly speaks at all in fact except to ask vaguely polite questions, whose entire claim to fame has been a snack she makes out of pretzel sticks and seasoned mini shredded wheat and who, as the two of you pass the fancy part of women’s wear, looks at the sparkling display and says If I could do it all over again, I’d buy a sequined dress.
Image courtesy of WikiCommons.