Friday, November 22, 2013

to great wearers of skirts

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Skirts. I have a great affinity for them.

For various reasons, I grew up wearing skirts and dresses almost exclusively. At school I was the lone skirt in a sea of jeans. While everyone else wore Levis, Lees and an occasional Calvin Klein, I wore a variety of skirts. Short skirts, fitted skirts, gored skirts, skirts with shorts, kilts with gold clasps, full midi skirts made by my mother that would fly out dramatically when I twirled. Skirts made of wool, silk, cotton, Jersey, seersucker, denim, even velvet. 

Skirts have always gotten me attention. You've heard of the Girl with the Pearl Earring? I was The Girl with the Skirt. In elementary school it was mostly an inconvenience. Playing kickball and swinging upside-down from the monkey bars gets a little more complicated in a skirt. But in junior high, my skirts received a different kind of attention. 

In 7th grade, I had a huge crush on an 8th grade boy named Gary Mercer. He was the best looking boy in the whole school, blond and popular and strong. I was a shy and bashful nobody with wild red hair and a naive innocence to go with my skirts. Even though we had gym class together, I was pretty sure he didn't know I existed.  

One day in gym class, he came over to talk to me. I was stunned. He complimented my skirt. I turned a billion shades of red. Tongue-tied and confused, I wondered why Gary was talking to me. Still, I was enjoying the view. As I gazed innocently at his wavy blond hair and strong jawline, I noticed some other boys had gathered around, too. I wasn't used to this kind of attention, and looked shyly to the floor.

Only then did I realize why the best looking boy in school and his minions were standing so close to me. He was employing the classic look-up-the-skirt-with-a-mirror-on-the-shoe trick on the one girl in school who actually wore one.

Now I was stunned and embarrassed, and I pushed him away. As the boys erupted in laughter, I escaped to the safety of the locker room feeling mortified and vulnerable. Oddly, I also felt strangely flattered. What he did was TTFW (Too Tacky For Words). But I had received attention from the guy I had a mad crush on. I knew I wasn't the kind of girl he would ask out, so it might be the only attention I got from him. But was that the kind of attention I wanted?

As I sat and nursed my vulnerability, I knew I couldn't let him get away with that. I also couldn't have him think I was "that" kind of girl. There was a difference between being vulnerable and being victimized.

I got up the courage to leave the locker room and made a beeline to him. I was so nervous. I was painfully shy, hated confrontation, and was cross-eyed with puppy love for this guy I barely knew. But I knew what had to be done.

He had a cocky little 8th grade smirk on his face as I marched over. I don't remember exactly what I said, but with a shaky voice I made it clear to him that what he did was NOT cool, that looking up a girl's skirt was tacky and rude, and that I was shocked he would do something like that to me.

His smirk softened. He apologized. And his look changed from cocky to respectful. This little shy nobody had mustered the courage to say "No, you can't treat me that way" to the most popular boy in school. And now I had his attention.

We never dated. We never became great friends. But we became friendly. He complimented my skirts. I rolled my eyes at his jokes. We signed each others yearbooks. (I cringe to think of what I might have written in his.) And even though he was just a blip on the radar of my life, I still remember him. Because of the skirts. 

The following year, Gary moved to the high school and his little brother Todd entered the grade below me. Todd was cute in a different way, and funny. He also seemed fascinated by my skirts. He never tried the mirror trick - not that I would have fallen for that again - but he always made a point of mentioning my attire. In my yearbook he wrote: "To Cindi, a great wearer of skirts."

In the years that followed, I got more positive attention for my skirts. I wore them well. I wore them fashionably. And lucky me, I'm blessed with a decent pair of calves. Even when the rules relaxed and wearing pants was no longer considered a 'sin' where I'm from, I stuck with my skirts. They were part of me.

I still wear a lot of skirts. I wear pants, too, but it's difficult to find pants that fit right on my round bum and big thighs. Skirts, however, are far more forgiving of curvy women and far more stylish. In my closet are three pairs of jeans and six pairs of pants. But I have more colors and styles and lengths of skirts than you could shake a stick at. 

Skirts are my thing.

(c) 2013 Cynthia Carver-Futch. Do Not Use Without Permission.

In 2012, I decided to start making a go of my writing. I had kept it in the closet for a long time. Writing was a secret desire that went unfulfilled because I was afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to be open, afraid to be seen as different. Then I let a writing colleague read one of my stories. She suggested my voice was perfect for a little magazine she knew. I contacted the publisher and applied to be a blogger. I was accepted.

And I became a skirt! blogger.

The past year has been an amazing time of growth for me personally and as a writer. I have made contact with dozens of people who have read my stories and been touched by them. I have built a readership. My confidence has grown. My skills have improved. My voice has become more sure. I have learned to be vulnerable and strong at the same time.

How appropriate that my writing, like my life, has been impacted so significantly because of skirts.

I just found out that skirt! online is going away. I will miss this forum. But my writing will continue. If you like what I have to say and how I say it, I hope you will follow me on my Facebook page and on my personal blog site so we can keep up with each other. I'd like to thank you for all the love, all the support, and all the encouragement.

And thanks for accepting me as I am, skirts and all. 
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