I take my place center front on the otherwise empty stage. The light is golden. My gown is black, trimmed in a black and white diamond pattern. My gosh! My hair has never been so long or had such body and curl! It is time for my aria. I breathe in, then exhale. Breathe in, then yank up my beautiful velvet skirt and start trying to adjust the sagging crotch of my tights. The discomfort is maddening, so even though the audience is staring, I keep struggling. There's no way to run off stage when the crotch is at your knees.
It is good to wake up and get untangled from the blankets. I've got several blankets because the temperatures crashed from the seventies to the twenties in just two days, and my body is confused. My mind has no such excuse.
Growing up we walked the four blocks to elementary school in nearly all temperatures and weathers. We wore coats with the hoods pulled up over our stocking hats, mittens clipped onto the cuffs, snow pants, and overshoes. When we got to school we put everything in our classroom's cloak hall. At recess and lunch we did all this bundling and unbundling again. The most difficult part was sliding our saddle shoes into the overshoes. The most itchy part was stuffing our full skirts and stiff petticoats against our chapped bare legs inside the snow pants, which usually had a bib and shoulder straps. It would be several grades more before stretch knit ski pants with foot stirrups became the fashion, and could be worn under our skirts for winter recess. After that came the snow boots with fuzzy linings to replace the overshoes. Then we had to carry our shoes to school in a bag.
Once in awhile we would get to ride to school because musical instruments would suffer too much in the cold if we walked on lesson day. On those days, I got to ride with the other Nancy's violin case in the space behind the backseat of our neighbor's Volkswagen since I was the skinniest, and least musical, maybe.
I wore Buster Brown white anklets year-round. Some girls had tights in black, white, or navy. Stylish girls had red. My first pair of tights were by far the ugliest item of apparel I have ever had. I've been looking at some hosiery color charts, and can't find the color. The tights were in between beige and light taupe in a color I'll call Weathered Prosthesis. They also had a tiny texture that made them look permanently goose-bumped. In the days before Spandex, tights had sags at the ankles and blobs at the knees. The overall effect of these tights on my skinny second grader legs could be called "plucked duckling".
My preschool students wear tights when it is cold, and sometimes even in the Dallas July if they get themselves dressed. The tights have lots of wild stripes and colors. The girls pull on loose threads until they create holes in the tights large enough to pull a leg out, or put an extra appendage in. They also still have LCT, the dreaded Low Crotch Trouble.
While introducing new students to each other this week, my team teacher and I spontaneously combusted into this song:
Lydia, oh Lydia, say have you met Lydia, Lydia, the Tattooed Lady?
And so it is in this new year that I offer this blessing for you and yours:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God close the curtains while you pull up your tights.