Why I Hate Velour

Posted: June 6, 2014 in Humour
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      In life, we often have situations that can break us, or make us stronger. I have one that did both.

     Back in 1974, my family embarked on an adventure. When we arrived home on the last day of school, we were told to congregate at the kitchen table for a family meeting. These meetings were reserved for only the most worthy of news. Then my father dropped the bomb: we were moving to Germany. This began a whirlwind 2 months of selling the house, storing furniture, and sad goodbyes to friends and relatives.

     What followed were two years of adventure, culture shock, extreme education, and memories that will last forever. We travelled as much as possible while there, all the while trying to lead as normal an existence as was possible. We still worked, ate, went to school, played sports, and made friends. But it was with a surreal feeling every day, living in such a vastly different physical environment as Lahr, which is a beautiful city nestled in the Black Forest region of Southwest Germany.

     But now we get to the point of my story. It was in the autumn of 1975, and my mother decided it was time for some new clothes for me. My shape at the time was on the portly side. Yes, I know this must be shocking to hear. To say that I was between sizes is like saying the Pope is slightly Catholic. Consequently, outfitting me was difficult at best. So, ‘new’ clothes actually meant ‘new to you’, and we were off to the Thrift Shop of the Salvation Army.

     I hated shopping for clothes to begin with. But shopping here was double-torture for me. A lot of the clothes in the store, while in good shape physically, were resplendent with a variety of odours that made me think ‘locker room’. Dogs who like to smell crotch would have loved this store. I asked for a mask, or at least to be knocked unconscious, but there was no having it. Apparently, my mom needed me lucid so I could try on clothes.

     Since I was between sizes, it was difficult finding stuff, but my mom the fashionista found some doozies. Despite my protests, my pleas, everything short of tantrums, we left the store with some pretty ugly clothing, and drove home in a silence generally reserved for fighting couples.

      So here is what we got: let’s begin with the used underwear. They were fishnet style, two sizes too small. I’m sure this alone helped push puberty back a couple of years. Next was my new t-shirt; iridescent green, with the number 12. The jacket she got me was a burgundy suede number that was covered with ‘Participaction’ badges for accomplishments in fitness (for those that don’t remember Participaction, it was a fitness program by the Canadian Government that rewarded youth, using a bronze-silver-gold-platinum scale to indicate your fitness level, platinum meaning ‘psycho-fit’). It was obvious that the previous jacket owner was very active, because platinum was the colour of choice. I once almost got a bronze patch, but had to settle for ‘tin’.

       The crowning glory in this outfit were the pants. I have yet to see pants as ugly as these since. They were skin-tight bright orange velour. My butt at the time was quite ample, and these babies showed it off like Nature never intended. Combined with the tight underwear, it was a sight. Wearing the entire outfit, I looked like a hooker. And when I walked, the pants made a swish-swish sound. It was quite embarrassing.

       I only wore this getup once, too school no less. And I had to walk to get there. Traffic was snarled for miles while drivers rubbernecked to see me. Many, I’m sure, thought the circus was coming to town. Now, you have to hand it to the military. Organized, efficient, well laid out. And military families were encouraged to have large families. Not your 1.5 children-per-family, no, more like the Walton’s. So, when I arrived at school, where the schoolyard used to be a parade ground, the entire population of not one, not two, but three schools were shocked into silence as I swish-swished my way through the gauntlet of fellow schoolmates. Head held high, I sauntered to the front entrance as birds collided in mid-air at the spectacle.

     The only regret I have is that I didn’t keep the pants to show people later in life, as a means of showing why I snapped from time to time. They, with the jacket and t-shirt, were floated down the small stream in a ceremony the next day (my mom somehow managed to keep the underwear), and over the years, we have chosen never to speak of this event.

     Until now.

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