Nov 24, 2010

The girl who smelled nice


Dear nonexistent readers, remember I mentioned the girl, who's parents were better off than most of us in school, the one who wore lacy cuffs on her uniform and smelled really nice?

I promised you I would explain the cuff thing. When I went to school, we were required to wear uniforms, which consisted of a woolen brown dress and an apron. Every-day aprons were black and holidays/special occasion aprons were white. The uniforms had white collars and cuffs which needed to be bought and sewn on the uniform (usually by the students themselves).

Now, the girl who worse slightly nicer cuffs was better off for two reasons: her parents could find/buy lacier cuffs and collars, her ribbons were shear and so was her white AND black apron. You see, the quality of all those meager accessories were a gauge of your parents' socioeconomic level. Back then (80s) you could buy nothing. And I mean nothing. Hunt for the various amenities was akin to a hunt for cheetahs. If a store happened to carry something, the women would call each other up, drop everything to run to the store to get it. Usually that also meant hours of standing in line for things like shoes, or ribbon, or pencils. But some kids' parents just "found" things. Some bought them in Moscow or other big cities, some had them "saved" by the store personnel for a little extra. Basically, things "fell of the truck". But kids like myself, we coveted the lacy cuffs and the sheer ribbons and aprons. Because those are the only means of decoration or distinguishing ourselves we were allowed in school. Beyond that were simple, ugly, uncomfortable, itchy woolen uniforms.

When I came to America, I was endlessly amused by the freedom of being able to wear what I wanted (within reason) in my school. Things that would get me sent to the principal's office back int he old country(read: jeans) were normal and expected things to be seen in. One thing I can tell you for sure that DOESN't such about having to wear Soviet uniforms is the weekly cuff sewing.

Cuffs got dirty quick. In my case (see: dirty girl) even quicker. Cuffs had to be bleached, ironed, then sewn on. By hand, usually. Same thing with the collar. It was a normal weekly routine that we did. Sometime my mom would combine this "fun family time" with mending of the socks. But I'll tell you all about it some other time.

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