ON a recent shopping excursion my city relatives were distressed by my tendency to compare the cost of clothing and livestock. A good-looking dress downtown costs about the same as a good-looking calf back home. Such practical observations combined with my definite robust country look (which they kindly attribute to big bones) caused them to shake their heads sadly. Feeling defeated, they returned me to the farm with a pair of designer jeans, a chic blouse, and the consolation that they had done all they could. In an attempt to reclaim the honor of our family name I would like to state publicly that things are not as bad as they seem. Farm women, like any others, love beautiful clothes. It's the animals that object. The sheep, suspicious of colors not found in nature, wouldn't come near me when I wore the bright new blouse. Cows are more curious. The blouse's gossamer fabric quickly went limp when the cows drooled on it. The cuffs on my designer jeans were soiled with mud and worse the first time I crossed the barnyard. In a society that abhors ring-around-the-collar I am aware that this more concentrated ring-around-the-ankles is a heavy offense.
Last night I tried to regain my femininity by soaking in an expensive bubblebath. Bubbles lack zest in well water and the delicate soap didn't do much toward removing machine oil. But it made me feel better. Afterward I even got out an old peignoir set and lounged gracefully about. Unfortunately peignoirs are a fire hazard when you stoke the stove in them, and they don't look right with long underwear.
It will comfort my mother to know that I do read the fashion magazines from cover to cover, albeit with my rubber boots on. On those rare occasions when I can find a baby sitter for the sheep, I go out on the town and even wear earrings. As a further concession I have ordered some pink overalls from a respected catalog. I only hope they aren't too flimsy and can hold up to burrs and barbed wire.
Perhaps every fashion designer should spend an hour in the company of cows. Are you listening Yves Saint Laurent? I suppose I could write to the fashion designers just as I'd write to a congressman. I'd urge a strong platform of rigorous glamour.
Until such apparel appears, I will continue leading a double life alternating between practicality and style.
But don't worry, Mom. I promise to stop buying my shoes in the men's department.