8/12 is Middle Child’s Day–Time for a Middle Child Story

If this were my family, I'd be Larry (the middle)--not in charge and not being cute--the one wondering "What the heck is going on?"

I’m a middle child. My older sister was a force of nature, even when she was sick. Mom lavished much-deserved attention on her–we all did. My younger sister was so cute and artsy. We all watched her for sheer entertainment value. I was plain: reliable, smart, sturdy, and helpful–easily confused with a Saint Bernard.

Did I mention I also enjoyed a good nap?

I tried to grab adult attention by impressing them with my good nature, and manners. Since these qualities were expected of children, my plan was flawed from the start. It’s a good thing that I was pudgy and klutzy–not the kind of attention I wanted, but attention, nonetheless.

I wasn’t fussy when it came to fashion. I couldn’t be. My mom had to shop at a “special” clothing store for me when it was time for school shopping. I believe it was a fashion shop for nursing home residents. The garments were either all stretchy or large enough to slip on. Zippers and buttons were outlawed in this store–probably for safety reasons. Under too much pressure, these devises could explode and become the equivalent of shrapnel.

This little diner served the best home-baked deserts east of the Mississippi. Then a tour bus stopped in and helped themselves to seconds. There was no safe place to hide when all the buttons and zippers started exploding.

One memorable shopping expedition when I was about 12, Mom found a cotton cap-sleeved dress (no buttons or zippers). I was supposed to slip it over my head and let the yardage hang, camouflaging my budding breasts and protruding belly. Hawaiians call these garments muumuus. This was a new fashion low for me, but polyester pants came in only so many colors.

Muumuus look this fetching on everyone.

Inside the dressing room, I gathered up the folds of material over my head and inserted my arms through the cap sleeve holes. This was a big mistake. I underestimated the girth of my upper arms and overestimated the size of the sleeve holes. When my arms got stuck, I remembered that cotton doesn’t stretch. I was in the dressing room trapped inside this dress. Each time I tried to move my arms in or out of the sleeves to escape Smother Smock, the material constricted, tourniquet-like, blocking circulation to my flailing arms. I could just see the Coroner’s report: Victim–Husky blonde pre-teen; COD–Lack of oxygen due to upper arm strangulation; Manner of Death–Suspicious, appears to be self-inflicted but investigation on-going. 

What's her excuse? She's slim, it's her dress and she' stuck at home. Or maybe this isn't her home or her dress...

Mom called from behind the doors of the dressing room, “How does it look?”  In calmest voice I could conjure from behind the folds of Smother Smock entombing my upper body like a sarcophagus, I said, “I don’t like the color on me. I don’t think I’ll take this one.” If only she knew that Smother Smock was taking me…

Smother Smock had me! There was nothing I could do! It was just me against that cotton demon.

With a rare prayer to the heavens and one more shoulder shimmy, I heard the blessed sound of a slight rip as some stitching gave way.  One sleeve came loose! I liberated my arms from the jaws of Smother Smock without further damage to either the dress or me.  My face was red, my hair askew, and my upper arms bore the tell-tale ring of ligature marks when I left the dressing room.

Yes, that's it. My upper arm looked just as ornery and obvious. No wonder Mom noticed.

“For someone who didn’t like the dress, you were in there a long time, Lorna,” my mother remarked. Then she saw my upper arms. She looked at me with both confusion and concern. Before she could ask the question I didn’t want to have to answer, I said, “Let’s look for some stretchy pants and tops.”

She looks quite comfortable in her polyester pants suit. But the lamb's wool adds a certain Savoir Faire to her ensemble that I never could have achieved.

At least my Mom noticed me. Score!

~ by Lorna's Voice on August 12, 2011.

11 Responses to “8/12 is Middle Child’s Day–Time for a Middle Child Story”

  1. You always provide the Yin to my Yang. Thank you!

  2. From the opposite side- Super Thinness-I have had the muumuu experience from clothing being too large.
    YUK …. body image.

  3. You’re right about that. Always good to have that kinda flexibility. 🙂

  4. My life could be portrayed in so many ways, depending on which slice of it you’re looking at: cartoon, love story, tragic drama, slap-stick comedy–I’ve got it all, Baby!

  5. Yes, I checked. They have lots of letters to signify the volume of material they uu-use!

  6. There are enough of us out there, aren’t there? Imagine if we formed a support group. We would have no leader and all of us would try to make sure everyone was happy!

  7. Hey, so what if I looked like a mini-senior citizen? At least I could escape from my clothes. Getting stuck in a dress is one of the reasons I loathe shopping to this day–even though I’ve slimmed down to a “normal” size long since.

  8. Another Lorna story that made me smile.

    I wonder if every middle child feels the way you did, struggling for attention sandwiched in between first-born and baby of the family. Double knit pants and rayon shirts baby! Polyester was where it was at! (Yikes! That last sentence ought to set my High School English teacher spinning in her grave)

  9. “I was plain: reliable, smart, sturdy, and helpful”…

    I was also obedient, quiet and usually quite shy. If not for a set of deep dimples, I might have been completely invisible (or at least unremarkable) in a family with 8 children…

    I didn’t have the kind of shopping experience you did as a child, but have had more than a few as an adult…humiliating to say the least.

  10. Children in their formative years should not be subjected to muumuus. It’s apt to cause long term psychological damage.
    Are you certain this is how you spell muumuu? It looks wrong. But muumuus look wrong to begin with, so maybe it’s right.

  11. Okay, now I’m thinking some of the events in your life would make a cool adult cartoon. 🙂

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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