Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Poncho That Brought Me Back.

Remember those early days of the Internet, where life was simple (except for making mix-tapes--that was still difficult ) and it was actually a novelty to "chat" with friends online (which usually equated to people saying, "Hi, where's everybody from?" right in the middle of the rest of the room's conversation about last night's episode of Suddenly Susan).  At some point during all of that, I recall finding it actually fun when a friend would unexpectedly perform the cyber-equivalent of tapping me on the shoulder...yes, the good old "Instant Message" of yore.  At first, we all enjoyed the "Hey, what are you doing" routine...especially since we were probably on AOL to get our email in a time in which Tasmanian diplomats hadn't figure out that email was a more efficient way to reach us than phone calls during the dinner hours.  A few bon mots exchanged with our long-lost person that we see every day at work, and we were back to trying to navigate AOL's still-chartered but ever-so-slow waters.

But oh how the tides turned (both for AOL and Instant Messages).  Now, I'd sooner log off Facebook and my sure-to-clear-all-the-jelly session of Candy Crush than to be spotted by anybody online.  Not that I don't want to "talk" to them...it's just that I have the social media attention span for a sum total of one Maru video, a George Takei pun, and whatever Sesame Street or Muppet meme is going around these days.  I'd rather not use social media to be, ahem, social.

Flash forward a few years (but the sweaters remain.  Oh how they remain). It might not be a tug on the sleeve or a virtual poke, but I have something just as intrusive now (and it's far more guilt-inducing).  Yes, it's called (in the spirit of the early 90s) "My So-Called 100 Days of Sweaters."  I realize that I don't actually have readers out there who are worried about my well-being and wonder what happened to me after the travesties of Day 61 (hey, that snowflake sweater really wasn't deadly.  I actually found it kind of sweet...even if I did wear it in meteorological spring)--if there are any of those people, I assure you that I'm fine and no worse for the (100 days of) wear.  

And, yes, I really did wear 100 sweaters last year...in fact, I wore 101 (the hidden bonus track that was so prevalent in 90s/2000s CDs).  I actually could have kept going, but forced myself to stop the experiment, even if the weather dictated otherwise.  I really was diligent about it...so much so that when it remained cold well into May, I did not allow myself to wear any sweater that I hadn't already written (or planned to write) about. Why waste a perfectly good entry for next year's extravaganza?

Except for one thing: as much as I adore sweaters, I find it really difficult to write about them once baseball season has started (and, yes, I did re-wear one of the former contestants on opening day...and found it lacking).  Even though that little "to do" icon on my computer showed a shameful crimson "39" every time I turned on my computer, I was able to block it out for a while.  Those 39 entries would get done sometime, just not when I had such important things to do like complain about those infernal "Back to School" ads in July or ponder that moral dilemma about whether it's okay to sit inside watching "Pretty Little Liars" if it's really hot outside and, if I were outside, I'd just be running the air conditioning in my car which is, of course, bad for the environment (plus, I left off on a really good episode and I seriously need to know who "A" is).  Eventually, that garish "39" became white noise and I could enjoy Grumpy Cat in peace.

That is, of course, until this little beauty popped up on the side of my Facebook page (and, yes, I'm sure there's a way to turn those off--but, sometimes, they provide lovely products such as this).

What's that you say, Facebook?  A Michael Kors poncho in my favorite color that also features a turtleneck (perhaps a cowl, but it didn't look like that in the pop-up that I saw)?  Where do I sign up?  It turns out that I had merely to click on the poncho, enter a few numbers (otherwise known as my credit card numbers) and then, voila, it was mine.  I mean, it has to be stylish...it's Michael Kors (and from his commentary on Project Runway, I know that he has no intention of making me look like "A Mother-of-the-bride on crack," or a "Schlumpy woman at a buffet on a cruise").

In my mind, a poncho (and one in harvest colors, no less) signifies fall activities like no other.  If I'm not playfully raking the leaves (taking time to undue my work by jumping in a leaf pile or two), then I'm most certainly in a corn maze at a pumpkin patch, smugly wearing my poncho while eating that ideal taffy apple (no nuts, just candy bits or cookie crumbs).  As the sun sets on that perfectly crisp autumn day, I hold my hot apple cider in one hand and fresh kettle korn in the other, and am so content that I could spend this day in my Michael Kors poncho (or any of the other ponchos that I have purchased over the years...all in the hopes of living this same moment).  All is right in my world and in this poncho.

So here's a word that you don't often see in my life (except when it applies to a certain genre of TV shows)--reality.  Yes, for a brief moment my sanguine moment in the apple orchard was interrupted by that little bugger. At first it was a small thought like: "But how will you reach up for that high apple if you don't have full range of motion in your arms?"  And to that I replied, "But this poncho is superior to those ones in the past because it has sleeves," (well, they're kind of abbreviated, but they are still sleeves).  And then it got louder, "But what if it's really cold at that football game you plan to wear this poncho to?  Can you wear a coat over it?"  Silly voice in my head, this is fall in the midwest.  Every day will be a sunny 65 degrees and then will dip down to 60 just in time for that bonfire.  But that voice remained, and it didn't give up.  Whatever whatever...I will find a way to carry a purse (that's why they created clutches), drive my car (both hands on the steering wheel is so last century) or swing that sledgehammer for that carnival game that they always have on TV shows at their Fall Fest where the bell rings and you win a really large and unattractive stuffed animal (my solution: I'll stick with the "Guess Your Weight" game because, in a poncho...who knows?).

And then there was a whisper...it was so quiet at first, I assumed it was the sound of the wind as I rode on that hayride after a trip to the most sincere pumpkin patch in town.  But then it got louder and more forceful, and, finally, I could ignore it no longer: it was the cries of the turtle and cowl necks that had met their untimely demise on the blog.  They were speaking to me from their graves (or at least their new homes...and maybe in a new incarnation like re-purposed mittens or cat toys) and they had just one word for me "neck."  What were they talking about--this neck was great...it was orange and chunky and...oh, wait a minute.  It really isn't sitting right, now is it?  NBD (as the kids say)...the rest of the sweater is so cute that...hold on.  This isn't a sweater.  It's a poncho.  And a poncho with a dubious neck has an entirely greater set of problems than a regular proletariat sweater.  It's fine.  I think.

After fussing with the neck a few times, I did the mature thing and put the poncho back in the closet and decided to think about it later.  Then I also went to the Nordstrom website to read the comments section--oddly enough, nobody mentioned anything other than how large it was (something that I will almost never complain about).  I went to other websites, but found nothing--except that every time I saw that poncho, I fell in love with it all over again.  Such great colors, and did I mention that it's Michael Kors?  Oh, I did? Sorry!

A few weeks later, I decided that maybe I had better heed the words of my fore-sweaters. If the neck is bugging me now, imagine how I'll feel at that proverbial pep rally? Why would a poncho get a pass from the rules while so many other, perfectly fine, turtlenecks be branded with a scarlet C (for cowl)?  While I think that I could have lived with this neck being slightly thick and non-committal (Was it a cowl? Am I supposed to "slouch" it?), perhaps it was time for me to learn something from my past behaviors and this poncho became the innocent victim for my crimes of those 100 days.  So, hat in hand (don't get me started on my hat collection.  Another time, another blog), I brought this beautiful specimen back to his rightful home at Nordstrom.  And that's when I saw this mannequin...taunting me, daring me (and, let's be honest, looking far better in this poncho than I did).  And how come the neck looks normal on her?  Maybe I should give it another try...

If she had a real face, you would see it glowing.  I almost want to buy this poncho all over again!

I'm sure at this point, those of you who are betting folk would put money down that I turned around and kept my poncho.  Which I almost did.  Had I not been in a remarkably speedy line at the checkout desk, I probably would have done just that.  But I did it.  I learned from my past mistakes and decided that an angst-causing turtleneck (no matter what his pedigree is) will never bring me the happiness that I have come to expect in a sweater.  Congratulations, me.  I have finally turned over a new (albeit changing color) leaf.

And yet, even as I was leaving the store (for once, $150 richer), I was wistful.  Whatever will I wear when I go to the town's annual pumpkin carving contest?  Because I'm so the type to just grab a pumpkin spice latte (except I don't really drink coffee), throw this on over my (non-existent) skinny jeans and go.

Oh, but wait...I can totally justify this purchase when it goes on sale.  I mean, at the inevitable $69 price, this is practically a steal, right?

And that's when I knew that, despite spending well over 100 days wearing sweaters of questionable taste and quality levels, I still have a lot to learn.  Not the least of which is that waiting until, oh, say, January, to add this sweater (okay...let's face it...it's a damn poncho) to my collection will only ensure that it never gets worn. Because while I may not have changed my wicked woolen ways entirely, I do know that sweaters in harvest colors do not make the grade in January.  Not only can we not visit an operative pumpkin patch over MLK weekend, if we did, we would most certainly need to wear a coat...which this PONCHO does not allow.  So, while I might save a few dollars buying this on sale, I would almost certainly never get to wear it, rendering it practically useless (which, for a poncho, is, admittedly, redundant).  All of which makes me think that I should have kept it, and were it not for that meddling neck, I might have done just that.

The fact that I'm still kept up at nights going over this transaction in my head makes me realize that I will never get any peace if I don't at least finish last year's blog.  Or, at the very least, spend a week trying to act like a functioning human being, all the while wearing a poncho.  That ought to cure me of my affection for them (or at least the notion of them).  Either that, or I'll come up with a whole set of coping strategies for how to eat corn-on-the-cob, pump gas, and do the Gangham Style dance without the full range of motion that a poncho prohibits.

So I'm going back to the blog. It won't be fun.  It won't be pretty.  But it is necessary.  I have all of these sweaters, their school pictures at the ready and in draft format...all awaiting my wit (or, at the very least, my extensive use of parentheses and ellipses).  I did consider not allowing myself to wear any new (or unwritten about) sweater until I finished the entire blog...but, c'mon.  That would be seriously cruel..and I have such a great cinnamon (or was it allspice?) half-zip sweater from Boden that is just waiting for a day at the Fall Fest.  Or the football game.  Or the hayride...

Yeah, I need to do this.  Bear with me.  I'm still learning...

Blogger's note: I still haven't gone back to re-purchase that poncho.  But, let me tell you, just looking at these photos is similar to showing pictures of chocolate chip cookies to someone on a diet (also me).  So tempting!  But, as they say, those who does not learn from the past, is destined to wear a cowl neck...or a poncho...or a mock neck...or a funnel neck...or...

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