Patch Work

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In the alternate universe where I often reside, not only do I wear size ten jeans, I look GOOD in size ten jeans. In that world, I am juggling book tours and giving Stephen King writing tips. My house is sparkling clean, my offspring make perfect grades and my spousal unit doesn’t fart in his sleep. My boobs are perky and Daisy is completely, beautifully, stunningly renovated.

This sparkly version of Daisy will have breathtaking décor, with upholstery stitched by yours truly and just the right amount of kitsch, shabby chic, and mid-century modern to make the “Flippin’ RVs” folk flip over my mad skills. They will ask me for my advice. They must wait until I’ve helped Stephen King work out some kinks with his omniscient point of view.

With these grand designs of Daisy in mind, I accepted an invitation to join my friend, Kathy, for a quilting class. “It’s only twenty bucks,” she said. I had some remnant material I’d bought for near nothing last summer to use as temporary Daisy window treatments for her stay at Bonnaroo. Wow. This would be easy AND it wouldn’t cost much. Why not?

Because Spousal Unit often lives in the same alternate universe, he – bless his heart – bought me a sewing machine shortly after I bought Daisy. We would make upholstery together! Sewing machine is fancy. Sewing machine confuses me. Sewing machine sat idly for more than a year. One day, Man Child discovered that it was more a piece of technology than it was a homemaker’s tool. He learned the embroidery function and now we have slices of material with inappropriately-worded embroidery on them. Graffiti: Junior League style.

I paid my twenty bucks, blew the dust off the machine and got it ready for class, bobbin and everything. I viewed the supply list the instructor had e-mailed and nodded my head knowingly. She recommended WalMart or JoAnn’s for supplies. I would do better and go to the cool sewing store on trendy 12South. I bought things. I bought so many things. I took the list the instructor gave us as mere suggestions and where she recommended an “EasySquare Jr. Ruler (6 ½ “ square), I bought a 10-inch square. Bigger is always better. Besides, the cool sewing store didn’t have 6 ½ inch squares, but it did have some awesome crane-shaped embroidery scissors for almost thirty bucks.

I also needed two yards of material to coordinate with the bargain-priced remnant stuff I had at home. I was being SO SMART. I spent a little more than I had planned, actually about $180 more than I had planned, but I was still using fabric that I had paid near nothing for! I gathered my purchases and dumped them in the car between Girl Child’s smelly horse stuff, her theatre stuff and my errand stuff. Two hundred dollars worth of sewing supplies and fabric melted into the effluvium that is the back seat of my poor, abused Honda Pilot. Bless its heart.

The first day of class was cancelled because of snow. God does hear prayers because I hadn’t done my homework, which was to wash and iron my fabric. Washing and ironing my fabric meant I had to find my iron, which I recall using when Man Child graduated from high school almost three years ago and my parents were in town. I sprung from the loins of a woman who still irons my dad’s boxer shorts. This is one apple that fell REALLY far away from the tree, then rolled down a hill and rotted. Not everything I do makes my mother proud.

The following week, the skies parted, the roads were cleared – even by southern standards – and class was held in one of Nashville’s old high schools. It’s a lovely old building and I love to romanticize about lovely old buildings and rue the evil empires (WalMart) that mow down lovely old buildings, rolling farmland and Native American burial grounds for altars to gross consumption.

It is easier to saunter up to the inner sanctum of the Pentagon than it is to reach the sewing classroom in that lovely old building. I’ve been through West Virginia corn mazes in knee-deep mud that were easier to complete. I was dragging my semi-fancy sewing machine, two hundred dollars worth of gizmos and four yards of washed and ironed fabric through an Amazing Race course. I passed the senior citizens crafting class and contemplated stopping right there to join them. Instead, I clomped down a ramp, sewing machine, cozy in its rolling case, pushing me impatiently. I turned right.

The lovely old building became American Horror Story: Asylum. Turning right was wrong. A metal door loomed. I turned left. Sweat dripped into my eyes. I wheezed. I was already late. I could turn around and go home and only my friend Kathy would be the wiser. I persevered, landing in a room where people gathered with sewing machines, scissors, and nametags. Kathy – that smart dame– had saved a spot for us in front of the fan. The room temperature was approximately 100 degrees. Centigrade. Senior citizens wrapped sweaters around chilled shoulders. Menopausal citizens stripped down to 18-hour bras and Spandex. Menopausal women can get ugly when there is unlimited heat and limited fans.

We are a little more than halfway through the class. I am a little less than halfway through my quilt. It’s not lack of trying. It’s lack of ability. And experience. I haven’t sewn since high school when I created a snazzy little summer top that made me the sexiest thing around. Since then, my grandmother’s sewing basket comes out only when somebody needs a safety pin. Safety pins make good hems. Spousal Unit and I used to joke that our sewing skills were such that when a button fell off a shirt, we would give it a eulogy. “What a nice shirt. Too bad it’s gone now.”

I’m determined to change all that. After all, I will wear size ten jeans and Daisy will be featured on “Flippin’ RVs” and the cover of “Vintage Camper Trailers” magazine. They will commission a photographer for the shoot. Said photographer will wisely shy away from Daisy’s blemishes, the unremovable dents from the tree that fell on her, the rust peeking through her paint job, and instead focus on her cute canned ham lines and her impeccably designed interior. There will be a hand-crafted quilt casually tossed on the bunk, where I, the famous writer, had been working. Curious, the photographer will reach over, click on the computer and find private messaging between Stephen King and me. “Steve,” the message will say. “I really think third person limited is better than third person omniscient in this instance. Just call me back if you have any more questions.”

 

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