July 23, 2009

In the mail today came an invitation from a local county fair to participate again in an annual event. They even included two pictures of me at last year’s event, presumably as some form of enticement. Suddenly I remembered…… the sweltering building that was about 100 degrees, the browsing people, the $14 I earned selling dried tomatoes that evening, being mercifully stationed next to a winery that continually gave me free samples….

At first when I saw the photos I thought "wow, I actually look cute", but something wasn’t quite right. Then it struck me….I am wearing the same clothes in the picture as I am right now. Same pulled back hair, same overalls from the thrift store. Geez. And right after I was in another thrift store this morning, thinking "maybe it’s time to find another pair of overalls".  I really do like farming, but let’s face it, it’s a fashion "zero". Sure, I see those guys driving around in their pickups with their perfectly blue Wranglers and their pressed plaid shirts and John Deere caps. They’re clean and their clothes match, and I know from the first look that they haven’t gotten their hands too dirty in a week or two. Good for them, they made it to where they can hire other people to do the hard stuff. But in this neck of the neighborhood, it’s all about filth. Dusty feet that leave brown prints in the shower. Clothes that smell of fires. Grease and paint and wax and tar and solvents and tomato plant slime all blended on a pair of jeans like an off-color Monet water lily. Clothes that say "I did something today." Sometimes we collectively leave the farm for a day trip…..a visit to the museum or the ballpark. It’s just funny trying to find something to wear. I even have a few t shirts in the drawer that I mentally think of as "dress t shirts" because they aren’t stained or faded. Everything else is torn, shabby, doesn’t fit right, doesn’t match, or outdatedly ugly. Except for one secret section of the closet that has a few formal dresses, kept on hold for the day of some future vocal performance. One day I shall stand in the turkey pen in my plum-colored gown and have a photo taken…..because everyone needs something to laugh about. Maybe I’ll even send it in to What Not to Wear….I always wonder what the hosts of that show would do with people for whom not being clean is an inevitable byproduct of life.