Thursday, April 13, 2006

On the final evening of the Amherst Writers Group

Pat Corrigan suggests this writing exercise: THIRD suggestion--
imagine an article of clothing that you possess. Imagine it on a fictionalized character in a fictional story.

Every day at lunch, my husband walks at the mall with the women who work at his office. He’s an engineer, probably not much fun at the office, or so I had thought. But now I wonder.

I had not taken Leo's mall walking as a big deal. He was looking for exercise; the other engineers went out for lunch or like Leo, sat at their desks every day and ate from a brown bag. When he heard the women talking about the mall walking, he invited himself into the group. He said they didn’t mind.

It took him awhile to adjust to their constant chatting as they walked. After a few weeks, he didn't mention the flurry of conversation to me, but described various objects in the shop windows that he found interesting. Until the mall walking began, Leo never entered a store unless I dragged him there.

I’ve walked with him before. He is more interested in bridges, architectural structures, and geologic protusions then anything I have to say. So, I imagined he had to resign himself to the sound of endless chatter for the sake of exercise.

One of the mall walkers was turning 40 and the ladies decided to go out to lunch. They told Leo they wouldn’t be walking that day as the girls were going out to celebrate. He was hurt. Crushed. No mall walking that day. How could they leave him out. He protested. They said, Well, if you wear a dress you can go.

When he told me the story, like a kindergartener’s pathetic tale of how the kids on the playground never picked him for their team, I was sympathetic. Not an ounce of jealousy. I suggested he wear one of my jumpers at lunch that day. This engineer who is no fun at work said, “Will it fit me?”

“It’s a jumper,” I said. “It would fit three of you.”

“I’ll do it!”

The next day he packed the dress in a bag and set off for the office. At lunch time, he closed his door and donned the jumper over his pants. He took off his pants.

I don’t have to imagine what this looked like—a 6', bearded, 155 pound man in a denim jumper usually worn by middle school teachers. I don’t have to imagine it because when the walker brigade saw him coming down the hall to join them for lunch, they were stunned. Not so stunned or shocked that they did not all at once scream, “Someone get the camera.”

It’s a great photo. I keep it framed right next to the photo of Leo wearing the lime green shift with the cheffon layering from the waist down, blue eyeshadow, lots of bling bling, bright red wig, crimson rouge, and orange lipstick proudly displaying the Miss America Banner from his shoulder to his waist. I’m the one in the First Runner’s Up banner standing next to him.

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