When I first looked over the prompts for the writer's workshop this week, I thought this would be the last one I would choose: What comes to mind when you think of the word 'plaid'? Then it hit me. This memory of myself wearing plaid...
It was the early nineties and I was in college through the week but sold roses at the country bar for extra money on weekends. It was easy money. I just walked around with my basket of roses balanced proudly on my shoulder, smiled, and waited for them to come to me.
And they always did. I guess they thought their chances of getting a 'yes' from the ladies were much higher if they presented her with a rose upon request for a dance. Beats a long neck anyway. Well maybe not for some, but most. I sold a lot of roses so it must have worked at least some of the time.
This particular Saturday night I remember clearly what I was wearing... a red plaid skirt, a white button down blouse with lace on the front, some flats, some pearl earrings, and my glasses. I didn't yet wear contacts back then and only wore my glasses when I really wanted or needed to see something. Like, you know, the road.
There were many times my friends and I would be out dancing and one of them would tell me a guy was checking me out but I sure as heck couldn't see his face from where I was standing without my glasses so the first thing I'd always ask was, "Is he cute? Describe him to me!" I took a lot of heat for that but to me, it was better than sporting the glasses. Most of the time.
But on this Saturday night of rose selling, I was wearing my glasses with my "good girl" outfit and my long thick hair tamed neatly in a side braid down the front. I will never forget a man walking past me and my big basket of roses, then turning to his friend and saying, "Now ain't she a sweet lookin' little thing". I remember this so vividly not because I was offended but because I was thinking, If only you had seen me last night!
The night before I had worn my hair down... free..., jeans, boots and my leather jacket. I wasn't selling roses that night. I had gone to this little hole in the wall dive where everybody knew my name and I knew theirs. And we were all friends.
Then she walked in.
"WHAT is SHE doing here?!" I demanded to know.
She was a girl who had messed around with my on-again, off-again boyfriend who just so happened to be a bouncer at the country bar I sold roses at which is where he was on this particular night. We were on a break once (like we so often were) and he went out with her a couple of times. When we were no longer on the break, he dumped her. For me. And she knew it. And she went a little crazy. Like throwing-a-beer-bottle-at-his-head psycho kind of crazy.
There were many nights I'd be at that country bar making my rounds through the crowd while she and her posse yelled insults at me, tried to trip me, and even attempted to steal the roses out of the basket on my shoulder. But what could I do? I was working. Plus, I am normally a lover, not a fighter. Even back then.
So imagine my surprise when she showed up at this place (my place) where I did not work and everybody knew my name. Turns out, she was chasing a guy, a friend of mine! I warned him to get her out of there but he just laughed.
And that's when I broke red. (For those of you who do not know what "breaking red" means, it basically just means to show one's arse in an unclassy and redneck sort of fashion)
It was like I had no control over myself. I walked up to the bar, took a seat right beside her and did everything I could think of to start a fight... glaring at her, "accidentally" bumping her arm... She got up, walked away, and tried her hardest to ignore me.
My friends all tried to diffuse the situation but since they had never seen me in this extremely rare form, they just didn't know what to do and I think deep down they didn't want to stop me. They wanted to see this thing unfold.
I can't remember all the details but it ended with two grown men holding me back while she ran for the door. I broke free and chased her out into the parking lot but she had already jumped in her car, locked her doors and was making her escape, spinning tires, burning rubber, and throwing up gravel as she went.
I was pissed.
But once I took a breath, cooled off and got my wits about me, I was extremely embarrassed and remorseful; hence the "good girl" outfit complete with glasses, pearls, and a red plaid skirt the following night.
Just for the record, that boyfriend and I didn't work out. A couple of years later, Darin and I had recently started dating and were with some of our very best friends, kicking up our heels in a line dance, all the way down at Myrtle Beach, in a place I can't remember the name of when I accidentally stepped on someones toe. I turned around to apologize to the person and guess who it was? Yep! And she was smiling right at me like the Cheshire cat.
So I just smiled right back and kept on dancing.