It was a typical autumn afternoon: soggy and cold and gray. One of those adjectives alone is dispiriting; lump them together and it feels like piling on. On such bleak days, there’s a strong human instinct to stay home and surrender to inertia. But, as luck would have it, I was out of milk. For coffee. And cereal. And hot chocolate. You know, life’s essentials.
A trip to Target was necessary. At least it won’t be busy, I told myself. Not in this weather.
I should never believe a word I say. The parking lot was full. I stepped out of the car — six miles from the door — and immediately took refuge under my hood. A big, floppy, hood four sizes too big for my pin head. It blinded me to everything but the puddles on the pavement as I splashed though them. Every twenty feet or so I’d peek out to navigate around shopping carts and oncoming traffic. Once safely inside the store I made a beeline for the milk, then wandered into baked goods hoping to find a rare box of Entenmann’s Mini Pound Cakes.
Almost magically, one box awaited and my spirits soared. I hugged it to my chest, noted the long expired Sell By date, and my spirits tanked. Then a black cloud showed up and parked over my head.
I trudged to checkout, where the lines were long. I picked one and waited, in no hurry to go back outside. I scanned the tabloid covers, checked out the candy, the gift cards, the impulse junk, and noticed the cashier watching me. Scrutinizing, actually. When it was my turn, the guy said, ‘I want you to know I admire your fashion sense.’ I was alarmed and could only respond with, ‘why?’
I was wearing sweatpants, a hoodie, and tennis shoes at the time. Not even fancy ones. In pre-pandemic days I didn’t go out in public wearing clothes with an elastic waist or that glittered or were made of spandex. These days, I’m good with anything that’s clean and dry. My standards are shockingly low.
I don’t wear make-up. I don’t have a ‘do. Or a skin regimen. Or indulge in mani / pedis or spa treatments. I’ve streamlined to a shower and shampoo and, if I’m feeling reckless, color coordination. To be complimented for having fashion sense at this late stage is unnerving. What changed? Why now? Well, it has to be the quarantining. We all discovered the comfort of non-restrictive, forgiving, liberating clothing at the same time.
You’ve got to admit, a low maintenance lifestyle is a beautiful thing.
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