The Color Red

You thought I’d ditched it here forever, right? Yes, I’ve been busy getting The Travel Belles, my online travel magazine for women, going, but I don’t intend to stop posting here. I’m just not sure what I’ll be posting and whatever it is  may come in fits and starts. Recently I’ve been working on my fiction mostly when I have the time, so I thought I’d share some of my initial bursts and ramblings with you. The following is the beginning of two of the main characters in a novel I’ve just started working on. Since some of you have known me much longer than I’ve had this blog, I feel it is important to add: No, this is not autobiographical. Yes, this is fiction.

I’m sorry, but it’s too red, I told her, because admitting the truth of what I was really thinking, even to myself was uncharted territory in the mother/daughter relationship. I never have liked red clothes though, and that’s how it came out.

Red clothing reminds me of many things that frighten me: the Midwest, republicans, sports fans, accountants. I became aware of my aversion the first time I went home with Todd to meet his parents over Christmas 1989. Incidentally, it was in Cleardon, which just so happens to be in the Midwest. I struggle with the idea of those geometric states, days drives from ocean. I never knew anyone from the Midwest before Todd and I’m sure I got my idea of them from television shows, those happy simple comedies with laugh tracks, and women with done hair and dresses and Betty Crocker cookbooks.

For any Christmas, the color red plays a big part.  Now it’s obvious that red is not the reason for the season, but for Todd’s family it was huge, this thing about wearing red. Some green may have been thrown in for good measure but, mostly the family wore red. Red shirts, red sweaters, red hats and scarves. All of it freaked me out a little. Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s not my color.

It’s not Jayne’s either, but here she is in the Dillard’s dressing room with an armful of clothes and I’d say at least half of them, probably more, have more than their fair share of red, much more, if she were to consider how bad we (meaning her and me) look in it. It  goes beyond me just thinking she looks like the treasurer of a young republicans club. It washes out her complexion, muddies her green eyes (Barney taught her when she was a toddler that when you mix red and green it makes brown. Doesn’t she remember this?), and draws attention to the fact that her hair isn’t really even that blonde any more. If I wasn’t such an advocate for resisting the influence of the media on todays teenage girls, I’d have her in the highlight chair in a minute.  Here we’ve raised her in a city and she, in spite of my influence seems to want to look like someone who thinks all the best books can be found in grocery stores. She probably even thinks that wall to wall carpet is superior to hardwood.

She peeks  from behind the curtain handing me the one clothing item she had back there that made any sense to me. I actually may have found it for her – an adorable pucci baby doll dress of purples and blues, perfectly suitable for a girl her age. If I still had the body I had when I was 15 and I knew what was in store for it in the coming years, I swear to you I would have put on not just this dress, but the bikini closest to the size of a postage stamp that I could find. I’d then parade around everywhere: to school to the mall, to stand at the bustop for as long a possible. I would have interviewed for college in the thing.

“Honey, why didn’t you let me see it on  you?”

“The belt was all weird, I couldn’t figure out how to tie it. And I think it was a little short…”

“Come out when you have the next thing on, I want to see.”

Reluctantly she exits the dressing room. She has on khaki pants. (where on earth did they come from, besides the 80s, I mean what rack?) and a white collared shirt under a sweater as red as the reddest apple you could pluck from a tree in Washington state – apple red, not tomato, not merlot, but fire engine, primary color red.

She appears to be shifting dirt around under her fingernails. I don’t say anything even though I want to about that.

“Well that looks okay, but don’t you think it’s, well….”

“Well what, mother?”

“It’s a little….”

“Red. Is that what you mean mom?. That you think it’s a little red? How is something a little red anyway? When it’s red, it either is or it isn’t.”

She shifts from foot to foot turning her body as if she were inspecting a prom dress and not the most boring red sweater I have ever laid my eyes on.

I notice the time and if we don’t get out of here soon, I’ll be late for my noon juvaderm injection.

“It’s great honey. Seriously, it’s perfect. Just your color.”

People always used to tell me that she looked just like me, like one day I just spit and there she was. She is changing and I’m not sure what to do about it. Maybe I’ll just forget about it. There’s always my other daughter. She doesn’t look much like me, but who knows, maybe at least, she doesn’t like red.

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