Friday, November 20, 2009

The Lesson of the Purple Sweater

The heat was out in the office yesterday and my boss, thinking she was doing me a favor, brought in one of her old fleece jackets for me to wear. I don't know what it is about ladies but they always think younger women won't mind wearing their clothes when it's cold. Consider this a public service announcement: 9 out of 10 times we would rather freeze.

I had a teacher is 6th grade who kept an oversized purple sweater in the closet for kids who got cold. We soon learned to NEVER complain of a chill or else suffer the embarrassment of her wrapping that unattractive, big, knit, moth-ball sweater around us. (Maybe if she hadn't covered up all the windows with cardboard so that we wouldn't "get distracted" the sunlight would have warmed us up?) This is what I thought of yesterday as my boss held up the jacket, which I instantly knew was too small for me, and said, "I brought this for you...and it's even clean!" She then proceeded to pick bits of dog hair and dirt off the sleeves and say, "Oh, well...maybe not...but it doesn't smell." Great.

A few minutes later she scolded me for not wearing the jacket. Fine, I thought, I'll compromise, so I stuffed my arms into the sleeves but didn't put it over my head for fear my man-shoulders would tear through the top. When my boss noticed this tactic she scoffed, "I don't have cooties, you know!" "I just don't think it will fit me in the shoulders," I tried to explain, but she took this to mean I was calling her fat. "Oh, come on! I had that in college, Amber! It will fit you." "It's just that I have really broad, manly shoulders and I was worried I would stretch it out," but everything I said made her angry. I was supposed to love her dirty college fleece and wear it like we were old college buds, but instead I was indirectly calling her "small shouldered," and so to spare her ego she hollered, "Well, I have a rack! You don't have that!" The client who was privy to this entire discussion looked from her chest to mine.

You see, it never ends well...other 6th graders will call the kid a Purple-People Eater for the rest of the day; everyone in the office will guess at cup sizes...and in the end, we'd have rather died of hypothermia anyway. So if you're ever thinking of sharing your purple sweater or dirty fleece, remember this, you are doing that girl a favor by letting her freeze.

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