“All women wearing pants will be escorted from the front of the church and be relocated to the back…(pause here for effect)…BEHIND the pews.”
Father O’Shea, the pastor and arbitrator of all things right and proper, stood at the foot of the altar. He was, as I remember – shaking with righteous indignation.
A sudden, nervous silence raced around the over crowded church. Children laughed…imagining Mother in church without pants! They stopped almost instantly as the nuns raced up and down the aisles to silence them.
Women, even those who had made the decision to defy all kinds of sanity and wear SLACKS to church, looked around nervously as the hapless ushers (all men of course,) moved through the rows to tap the designated offenders to their new positions of disgrace. The year? Approximate, but I’m thinking 1950-ish.
I don’t remember what the occasion was, but I do know it WAS an OCCASION. The church was more than usually crowded and folks were dressed up a bit more. I think I remember it was graduation for the elementary school students –And, to give credit where it was due, Father O’Shea had chosen wisely for getting the most bang for his buck…or audience for his drama.
NO WOMAN WHO CHOSE TO WEAR MEN’S ATTIRE WOULD BE WELCOMED IN HIS CHURCH.
It wasn’t dogma. It wasn’t taken from the bible as we thought we knew it. After all, if we went by that, we’d all be wearing – well – nothing. Like Adam and Eve.
However, Father O’Shea did have an effect. Local thrift stores were inundated with almost-new pants suits.
Many years later, when my son, John, was being graduated from, high school, I went to HIS graduation wearing a pants suit of my choosing. Now, I wasn’t quite brave enough to do this alone. No, I conned a friend, the mother of one of John’s friends, into buying a matching suit.
I felt downright brave. Inspired and inspiring to others. Okay, really kind of silly taking a stand for Women’s right to choose their own clothes. I also thought I looked quite striking. Pants suits hid a lot of truths
If I am being totally honest – I was probably reveling in the attention. But poor Anne Marie, my fellow rebel, was just going along for the ride. Literally. I had a car for the day and she didn’t. Anyway…we arrived at the graduation and A.M. whispered, nervously.
“I don’t see any other women wearing pants, do you?”
I certainly did not. And, here’s that honesty thing again, I was probably very glad no one else showed up in slacks. After all, you can only be a rebel if you are in the minority, and a minority of three dulls the edge.
“I bet they’re all feeling sorry for us, having chosen to dress like men,” A.M. said miserably.
“And WE,” I said grandly, “can feel sorry for them in turn for their inability to recognize a fashion opportunity like this one to be leaders in …” I have to admit I paused here. I couldn’t quite figure out what we were leading…
“The fashions of the future!”
The sentiment was right but the voice was wrong. I hadn’t said it. Anne Marie did!
Damn all. I went to all this trouble to drag her into the new fashion world and she had the best line!
But I did get bragging rights.
“Oh yes, I remember it well.” I say casually. “I was one of the early fashion dare devils. Practically had to drag my friends kicking and screaming into the new world of fashions…why I remember…” but about here, interest has moved on.
My drama is a bit lost in a civilization where we are now choosing our SEX rather than our clothes.
I’m not there yet, and I realize that, at my age, I’d better hurry.