Saturday, April 4, 2015

The wonderful ice cream suit

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” — Audrey Hepburn

I CONFESS to being a clothes horse. I'm sure it has to do with growing up having little, but it's also related to being design-y. I’m the creative director of the small agency my husband and I own, and that's what my degrees are in.

When I fessed up to Paul about the guilt I feel at times, not to mention lunacy, about my overly-extensive wardrobe, Paul brushed it off. “Getting dressed is just another way you design. Plus it makes you happy.” 

It's true. I’m dazzled by all the permutations of color, shape, line, texture and contrast, and acquiring an item is like adding a new color to my box of crayons. 

I’ve accumulated a grandiose wardrobe because a) it satisfies my eyes b) I have a black belt in extreme sale shopping c) I keep my clothes pretty much forever (this week I finally gave away a little black sweater I've owned and worn for 30 years) and d) my husband is an enabler. 

I say this because he is. Trying to get him to shop for himself is challenging; I have to time an expedition just right and then make it a surgical strike (it's such a guy thing) — but on the other hand, he will shop till he drops for me. 

We recently found ourselves in the near vicinity of my favorite mall, and I took a run at getting him to look for things for him. He was not in the mood. 

Since it’s a 35-minute drive from home, we don’t get to this mall often, so I thought I'd duck into a couple of shops, if he didn't mind, for a quick perusal of the clearance racks. I spied a white linen pencil skirt that fit like a dream and was drastically clearance priced. It was a keeper. 

While I'm in the dressing room, Paul often takes it upon himself to pull things he thinks I should try. I tell him he can just chill or go to the bookstore, but he says, “I know, but I like dressing you up and seeing you in nice things.” A woman could do worse.

Paul is the only man who has ever been able to pick out clothes for me. Before Paul, the previous contenders leaned heavily toward the controlling, and in response I became very oppositional. Mr. X would say, "I like your hair long" I'd cut it off. "I love it when you're tan." I'd immediately invest in high-SPF sunscreen. "I think long fingernails are sexy." I'd trim them so close I looked like a nail-biter.

When I met Paul I was deep into a long-standing no-makeup, extremely-short-hair, long-skirt, oversized-baggy-clothes phase. With him in my life, however, I started buying clothes that fit properly and were flattering not because they appealed to me so much, but because I thought he would like them — uncharacteristic behavior for me for sure. The difference between his predecessors and him was that from the beginning it was clear that Paul loved me as me however I was.

The everlasting proof was when early on in our relationship I came down with a bacterial infection and got very sick. On the drive back from the doctor's office, I was so out of it that although I knew Paul was talking to me, it was as if I were in some alternate dimension where I could hear what was going on around me but not participate or respond. Paul kept talking to me and waiting for me to reply, but . . . nothing. 

About half way home he paused, and I could almost hear him say to himself, "Right, then," and he embarked on a conversation with me as though I were "present" that he maintained all the way home. I knew then that he would love me no matter what for as long as I exist. If I were stuffed and mounted on the wall, he would still love me. 

On the day I found the white linen pencil skirt, Paul spotted the matching white linen jacket. I didn't think I wanted it, but I tried it on for him. It was a perfect fit. Still I was reluctant to purchase it because it was more money than I thought we should spend. That's when Paul said, "You're kidding me! Come on, it's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. How could you possibly not get it?!" 

The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit is a straight-to-video movie we like written by Ray Bradbury that tells the story of a magical white suit one man wants so much that he recruits four other men to pool their money to buy and share it, and wearing the suit helps each man realize one desire. That sold me.

And what wish came true when I wore my wonderful ice cream suit? It's always Paul.

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