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I have finally realized that retailers have figured me out. I am a pawn in their little capitalistic game. Their ultimate tool is playing upon my desire to be a kid again.

Clothing styles seem to cycle about every 20 years. This, I believe, is purposefully done by the fashion industry. Why? There is something psychologically satisfying about wearing clothes at thirty that I wore at nine. It’s like reaching back in time to when roles were reversed and I was the irresponsible one in full bloom of childhood. The effect of this has never been as potent upon my psyche as it is now.

Perhaps it is that I miss my Mom, the keeper of my secrets, the caretaker of my childhood. Autumn in my childhood home meant homemade soups, fresh baked bread, and hot Tang. It meant her trying out new hobbies like Tupperware parties and giving perms to anything that had a head of hair and walked on two legs. She was always sewing, and that meant rainbows of ric-rac and lost stick pins to accidentally step on. You can’t imagine the electric energy in our house when Velcro was invented. We had Velcro in our shirts, pants, coats, and vests. We kids literally stuck together.

There is nothing that brings back the wont of those days more, however, than the reemergence of the velour leisure suit. What makes it so significant to me is that I have neither thought nor spoken the word velour in over 20 years. It is a sensual word to say; the very mechanics of its sound is like a kiss. It rolls off the lips and calls to mind a simpler, albeit younger, time of our collective memory. Velour to me is a worn-out library card, a mangy dog named Shep, and my first crush: Encyclopedia Brown. It is jungles of macram‚ projects, plastic grapes on the dining table, and a patch of sunshine on soft carpet in the late afternoon where I played, read, and slept. Velour is like the catchy phrases of yesteryear: make do or do without, save for a rainy day, and mind your manners. Central to the memory of it all for me is a woman of grace and talent who gave meaning to the mundane and comfort in the chill of things I had yet to understand. She could have been anything, but chose first to be our Mother. I miss her dearly. And so I buy velour.

You can find me most autumn evenings, curled up on the sofa, a mug of hot Tang in my hand and a misty look to match the deepening dusk outside. It’s not sadness; rather a soft, impenetrable satisfaction that I am now where my Mother once was, doing what she did, and loving what she loved. So to the retailers, I salute you.

My new velour leisure suit: $70.

Reliving memories of a happy childhood: Priceless.

November 4, 2002
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