Nana, a dancer, had shown me saris she had purchased for costume fabric in Vancouver. I was impressed with their beauty and the idea caught in my web for Lorraine and I to wear saris to the art exhibit. I wanted to thank Lorraine for all the help she had given me, so I asked her if, in appreciation, she would let me give her a sari. She was extremely enthusiastic and decided a deep cherry would be becoming with her dark hair.
When the saris arrived in the mail, mine was sheer white silk with a broad silver threaded border design. Lorraine’s was a vibrant deep magenta with a multicolored embroidered border. They were gorgeous. Nana had chosen well and pleased us both.
We were delighted with the idea of wearing them, except — there was no shape whatever to them — just six yard of fabric and neither of us had time to sew. We had the saris but we could not decide how to wear them and time was short.
We were nearing panic when on a shopping trip to Flagstaff, Lorraine and I spotted a motel maid wearing a sari! I jammed on the brakes and swung into the motel driveway. We both lunged out of the car and ran toward the girl. She was startled by our strange approach and fearfully stepped back against the wall. Lorraine and I began to laugh and apologize. When we realized she did not speak English we compounded her fear by gesturing and reaching out to her sari.
From a shadowed passageway her employer, a tall dark-eyed angry man appeared. Immediately I had visions of him calling the sheriff. Instead he spoke with the voice of reason and listened with an open mind as we explained our predicament. He marveled at our unlikely request, then translated it for the beautiful young woman, who smiled openly, then patiently demonstrated how to hold, fold, tuck and drape the fabric.
As we drove home I felt a strange wave of insecurity as it occurred to me, unless I’d misconstrued one of her rapid movements to secure the fabric, G.B. stepping on my hem could peel me like a banana. What held it on? From that moment on, I was anxious; I procrastinated and didn’t do a “dress rehearsal”.
Finally I draped the garment around myself, loving the soft sheer silk fabric and the glistening silver border. I turned and posed for the full length mirror filled with the sophistication, vanity and self satisfaction of my urban youth, only to be revolted by the image reflected before me. The woman in the mirror was not the stately, dramatic eccentric I had envisioned. Instead she was a cross between a beekeeper and a bride.
Instantly I had two problems: find something to wear, and tell Lorraine I would be casting her adrift, alone in her sari.
Since neither G.B. nor Shirley volunteered to phone and tell Lorraine, and it was not something I could forget to do, with great difficulty I forced myself to pick up the telephone and call her.
“I am disappointed Charle, but I will wear mine.” She was too nice to show me the extent of her disappointment and she was wise enough to know her sari was becoming and a beautiful garment to wear.
Now what should I wear? I did not own summer weight slacks. In summer I wore shorts and sundresses and because our lifestyle was rustic, I was now oblivious to any fashion trend which might included long skirts, which also I did not own. But I needed something long as possible to cover the final bandages and my clumpy sandals which I had to continue wearing.
I chose to wear a black velvet pant suit on a hot, humid, Arizona August night and the now “famous” white satin blouse. To distract from my inappropriate attire I began to add a Navajo Squash Blossom neckpiece, silver and turquoise earrings, bracelets and rings. Suddenly the Navajo jewelry equated my winter weight velvet and satin blouse, with the beautiful, crushed velvet and satin worn by Navajo ladies. Happily I discovered, if I could keep heat and Monsoon rain storm from flattening my hair and smearing my makeup, the outfit was going to work!
As I put on my earrings I wandered over to G.B. and reminded him that it was time to be showered, shaved and dressed.
“Y’all don’t need me Charle. I’m not a-goin.’”
I was stunned and felt tears begin to boil behind my mascara.