We had several crochet pieces at home. There was a doily, a coffee table cover, and there was one Mother made me wear – a mini skirt with scallop hem from her interlocking and looping past time. Her hooked needle reminds me of Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow.
She would help me put on my favorite top which had a yellow elephant on the chest. I named the elephant Molly. The idea must have been from one of my animal books or from that trip to the circus. A family friend I was taught to call Aunt Narcissa seemed to be Mama’s ally in dressing me up. There was about a trio of them but it was Aunt Narcissa I remember well. Not only was she endowed with a Brigitte Bardot body, she was around every time they took pictures of me. She would giggle. Pussycat optics perched eternally on the bridge of her nose. In one photo her waist-length, raven hair was an elegant contrast to my white crochet skirt.
My shoes were cute. That I can guarantee. Mama always had chic taste in footwear. I wore lace socks. Fluffy lovely, that pair was.
Brace yourself for the final accessory. They pinned it on, of all parts of the body, the very top of my head. Red is my best recollection of its color. It must have been from a past Christmas. Those bows on presents.
We approached the driveway. No one else was there except the few people in the photo shoot party. Click, click, click. Wait days for the photos to be developed. It’s the mid 70s. I hear the buzzing stove, the orange flame on the burner. Sometimes my playground was the kitchen. Aunt Narcissa flirted with Mama’s military brother in the guise of bringing us a sack of chicos.
I must have looked like a walking Christmas tree. Aunt Narcissa was grinning all the way. My soldier Uncle smiled at her politely. And Mama rounded on me –
This kid doesn’t smile. Again please. “Smile, baby.”
I’m not a baby. I’m a little lady. These adults are clueless.
The driveway led to the national highway. The concrete wall that fenced the apartment we lived in was vandalized by a skull painted in alkitran. Drab. It’s probably why Mama and her gang (which included the provincial governor’s girlfriend; but she is another fashion story) chose red for the bow to liven up our nook.
And my scalp.