Saturday, April 30, 2005

The miseries of clothes. Today we were in the car at the traffic lights and Jeremy pointed out an embracing couple outside the Intersection pizza shop. They were both rugged up in jeans, jackets and scarves. The guy was sitting on a metal railing while the girl stood in front and leaned into him.

"I always find it so amusing to see people making out in public," said Jeremy.
"Really?" I said. Personally I'm more enraged, because they're flaunting the fact that they're getting laid and I'm not.
"Look at the small movements they're making," said Jeremy. "All that repressed desire. You can see him thinking, 'I wanna get my hands on her naked ass, but I'm in public, so I'll just rest them here.'"
"Yeah," I added, "and it must be torture in winter."
"All those thick layers," said Jeremy.

We must interpret this in the light of the unsettling glimpses I keep getting into Jeremy's world. Last week a group of us were having pizza at Bimbo and Jeremy left early, saying he needs "at least three hours to unwind before I go to sleep."
I said, "You must be pretty tightly wound."
"You have no idea," said Jeremy.
Then today we were in the car and Jeremy said, "Oh, there's that girl from my work that I want to bone so bad." Later on, he added, rhetorically, "Why is it that all girls have boyfriends?"
I said, "I don't have a boyfriend," and Jeremy just made a sound like a cross between a sigh and a snort.

But he has a point, about the public discomfort of clothes. The couple must restrain themselves in public because their clothes hamper their desires. The discomfort can also be made literal. Today I was wearing a pair of black opaque footless tights. I got dressed very hurriedly today and I didn't notice that they were worn out in the inner thighs, where they were pilled and had a little hole. This turned out to be an excruciating combination, because my tender flesh, exposed by the hole, was repeatedly rubbed on the pilled surface of the other leg when I walked. It was like a cheese grater.

I just can't describe how agonising this was. This little hole in a pair of tights altered everything about me: my gait; my mood; my awareness of my body's movement through space and proximity to other bodies. I had to hitch my tights up compulsively in the street like the woman in "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega ("does she see me, no she does not/she is hitching up her stockings"). The tights wore a raw circle on my thigh by the end of the day, and as soon as I got home, I hiked up my skirt and cut the tights off me with scissors. I've never done that before. It felt strangely exhilarating to rupture the rules about how to put on and take off clothes.

This incident also destroyed my sense of feeling "put together". People who don't find clothes important just can't understand how it can make or break a day for me to feel comfortable in my clothes, not only in their fit, but in my perception of how others will view me because of those clothes. These two ideas are intertwined: if I don't feel comfortable with the way I look, I imagine nobody else will either; and if I imagine that others will call my clothing ugly or inappropriate, then I can't feel comfortable. I call the feeling of successfully balancing these two ideas being "put together".

I don't quite know how to incorporate it into this argument, but I also began this post wanting to describe how sometimes I run down the stairs in my house cupping my own breasts so they won't bounce around. One of my friends once mentioned she also did this; and I remember being immensely relieved that this was okay to do and that I wasn't just boobie-obsessed.

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