Some things defy explanation.
For instance, why is it that an old article of clothing you care little for, stays bright and in good repair, while a favorite or brand new item always seems to get marred in some way?
While shopping at a department store with my daughters yesterday, I was standing at a cosmetic counter sampling some make-up, when the young lady behind the counter took an applicator sponge out of a bottle of foundation to show me the shade and somehow splashed it all over one side of my new shirt. It was only the second time I’d worn it and, just minutes before, I’d told my daughter that I had a feeling I’d be wearing it a lot more.
"It's already a favorite,” I said.
The saleslady either didn’t realize what she’d done or didn’t care because she didn’t even apologize. I was a little upset and hurried to the restroom where I dabbed cold water on the spots in an attempt to get the makeup out – to no avail. A sweet elderly lady with a cane saw what I was doing and said, “Honey, when you get home, spray Shout on those spots and let the shirt lie for a couple of days before you wash it. The stain will come out, I promise you.” I thanked her and left – only half believing in her advice.
But as I write this, the shirt is lying on my dryer, damp with Shout. I plan to wash it tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the lady was right.
As I told Mr. H. about the incident, the memory of a similar episode surfaced.
I was in the fifth grade. My mother had just bought me a darling dress! I can still see it. I’d had nothing quite like it before nor have I since. The colors sound odd for a little girl, but take my word for it, it was very pretty. The top was white with little cap sleeves. At the waist, cotton fabric of brown and white checks was gathered onto the bodice and flared out into a full, circular skirt. That was part of the reason I loved it so – the way it flounced about when I walked. I felt so grown-up!
On the day I wore my new dress, I and my classmates arrived at our desks to find a bottle of ink and a fine-point Esterbrook Lever Fill Fountain Pen.
“Today, we’ll be having a Penmanship lesson,” said our teacher, Mrs. Hensley. “First, very carefully open the bottle of ink on your desk,” she said. “We’re going to learn how to fill the pen with ink. I was so excited! I’d seen the letters of the alphabet written with these fine-point pens and they were so beautiful! I couldn’t wait to learn how to make them myself!
But alas! my excitement wasn’t to last long. Just as I picked up my pen, ready to follow the teacher’s filling instructions, the boy in front of me, Raymond, turned around to say something and his elbow hit my bottle of ink knocking it into my lap – all over my beautiful new dress!
Jumping up from my desk, I screamed at him, “Oh, no! Look what you’ve done!” Tears welled in my eyes and threatened to spill over, but I held them back. Mrs. Hensley took me to the restroom and cleaned me up as best she could, but the ink in my dress wouldn’t budge. We went back to class, but Penmanship instruction was over for that day.
When I got home from school, I took the dress off and left it in the bathroom. I watched for my mother to come home from work and met her at the door. “Oh, Mother, you’ll never believe what happened,” I said breathlessly – and continued non-stop until I’d blurted out the whole story.
She hugged me and said, “I’ll see what I can do, honey, but ink – I’m not sure. It may not come out.”
“Oh, I hope it will,” I whined.
Sadly, although my mother tried every type of spot remover she’d ever heard of on the dress and then soaked it in a sudsy brew overnight, the ink was there to stay! My beautiful brown and white dress was ruined after wearing it only once. Heartbroken, I cried myself to sleep that night.
I’ve never forgotten that dress. After many, many years, I still remember how the circular skirt fluttered around my legs when I walked, making me feel sort of “impish.” I had countless new dresses throughout the years, but none of them were ever quite as special as that brown and white checked dress.
I hope the shirt lying on my dryer doesn’t end up in the same category.