During the lifetime of every woman a time comes slowly in awareness that more living has been accomplished than there is time left to live. The word I seek is retrospection. (Insert soft groan here.) Readers are gearing up to hear the long-winded and usually boring life lessons that grandmothers are known to give, especially after a couple of times that Gran has bailed out her family’s mistakes, eased them over the humps of legal, medical, and emotional mountains and downed an ultimate margarita, while soaking my old joints in a whirlpool bath. This, my friend, is the memory moment that counts.
The “Granny Chronicles” come unassisted to mind, seemingly never following a direct path. Being “on the soak” opens up the memory banks to all kinds of knowledge that never is heard around the dinner table when the stories seem to flow effortlessly and each person’s memory differs from the memories of their siblings.
Among my memory treasures, the awareness comes and goes not unlike the stock market. You put them in the memory bank and then, someone else moves them around and when you get them back, they are changed.
No further explanation, I offer you one word, “latex.” Within the life experiences of my grandchildren, their female body is uplifted, controlled, flattened, desirably managed by products called SPANX. Latex and Spanx being about fifty years and a generation apart. Get ready, here it comes.
In my day, latex was king. The wobbly skin that stretched our yielding body parts into a roman column. A firm foundation rivaled only by the bone and stay corsets of my grandmother’s day. There was a smell that came with the undergarments and it was inherent to the smells you find in an Army-Navy Store: a somewhat familiar odor, and at the same time, disgusting. Once, you become accustomed to the fleshly smell, then your sweat glands become active and if the latex is covering your lower trunk, the trickle of sweat running down your behind crack becomes unbearable as there is NO way to scratch that itch! The space between a young woman’s legs becomes a war zone, not unlike fighting in full battle gear in sand dunes in summer.
If you are wearing the garment that has legs? Your swishing walk speaks volumes—just consider a barrel walking, or better yet, sitting. Your stockings are crammed into the legs and your every prayer is that they never work their way out of the leg and give up even more flesh to be scalded. Within design, there is the latex girdle that just rides over your hips leaving the clips hanging down, the ones that hold your stockings, if you are lucky. This garment was never created for beauty, no matter what Victoria’s Secret or Fredrick’s of Hollywood sells today.
In my mother’s day, her silk stockings were given up for the war effort and the silk sent to factories that produced parachutes. In my day, the stockings were gladly given up to the invention of pantyhose. A sigh of relief could be heard throughout the land. We had wiggled and squirmed, pulled and prayed, laid on the bed and tugged the latex stuff, trying to gets its fleshy cold arms around our hot young bodies. Pantyhose was the stuff of dreams. We already knew the drill. Consider, the way to put them on or how to get them on our legs, up to our crotch (never happens) and over the hips to the waist (many times reaching all the way up to the bust).
The miracle had its moments of weakness when our fingernails tugged too hard and went right through the hose, ripping it and letting the runner beasts out. At this point, you could put on another pair of pantyhose that had the one good leg and cut off the other bad leg-combining the two pair into one-in despair at what happens at the top. This puts you into mind, “Does the old garter belt still live in my dresser?”
These memories come unasked. The smell of my latex pillow in the hot water of my whirlpool tub brings me up to date, thankful, that today almost all young ladies wear their high heels—BARELEGGED.
There is a God.