Mama’s Rule # 1
Keep your skirt down.
When I was little, skirts were such a pain. They were always flying up and over my head. You couldn’t turn flips on the monkey bars, swing high in a swing with your head laid back and your feet straight out or even jump rope without flipping your skirt up over your head. Personally I preferred not wearing skirts at all. In fact, when Mama was gone and I was left in the charge of my Grandma, I was allowed to wear panties and that’s all. At least until we were caught. This is how we got busted.
My cousin, Esta Mae, and her husband, Robert, two of my very favorite people in my three-year-old world, stopped by our house one sizzling hot, summer afternoon. Mama was gone, Grandma was in charge, so I was playing outside in the yard in my undies. Esta and Robert were on their way down to the farm. What an adventure that conjured up in my toddler mind. The farm. Horses, maybe, and cows and cats and kittens for sure. Could I go, too? Sure!
So I hopped in their car and off we went. I remember the long driveway up to the farmhouse, but for the life of me I don’t remember any horses, cows or kittens. What I do remember is the trouble I was in when I got home. Mama was highly embarrassed that I went in only my panties. Maybe my feet were dirty from playing outside or my neck had rivers of dust-encrusted sweat dried on it. I am sure that would have indicated poor mothering in her mind and even in her absence she wanted her mothering practices to be followed. Of course Grandma was in the most trouble, having failed by letting me go anywhere in such a shameful state.
So that was the end of my nearly nude lifestyle. Maybe it was the beginning of my stunted fashion sense, too. I didn’t have any clue what was fashionable. I blame that partially on the fact that we lived too far out in the boonies to get Dick Clark and his Bandstand on our TV. My friends who lived just up the road probably less than ten miles could get it and they watched it faithfully. They learned to dance the right dances, sing the right songs, hang the right posters in their rooms and of course wear the right clothes, all because of Bandstand. I never even had a poodle skirt, for heavens sake. That would have been one skirt almost worth giving up flips on the monkey bars for.
Poodle skirts were long gone by the time I got to high school, but skirts themselves were still mandatory for girls. Skirts and hose. UGH! Even when I went to college at East Tennessee State University, admittedly in the depths of the Bible belt, skirts were required. Some of the girls, especially for 8 o’clock classes, wore their raincoats over their pjs or shorts to class, but I was so clueless, I never thought of that.
So Mama’s rule followed me until the feminist movement set me free. Pantsuits came first. They were heavy, hot and polyester so thick you could hardly puncture it with a stickpin. Still I was happy to wear them, no more worrying about skirts flying over my head when I flipped on the monkey bars.
Now, Mama’s rule still applies, if you’re wearing skirts on the monkey bars.
But then, wasn’t that what Mama was talking about?