Below is Part 2 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
To celebrate the Ides of March, Agnes Person has plaited her hair in seven knee-length braids dyed for each day of the week, plus an extra eighth bun and odd twists on top for good measure. If they get wet, her braids will be a heavy load, and she hurries home to beat impending weather, this year, more lion cub than lamb. Or so she thinks as she glances at the storm clouds.
Agnes looks down the block and sees her two best friends waiting on the stoop. They have come for their annual alert — a spring clean-out of her socks. They wave, and she rushes to greet them. Broad-boned Bea Else, a former chain smoker turned empty-nester, has a sexy throaty voice. Narrow marrow, Jena Ivey, younger and still married, always looks pert in her white nurse attire.
The caravan of three climbs the stairs to Agnes’s third-floor apartment. Hand on rail, Jena leads, followed by Agnes. Bea, huffing and puffing, bears Agnes’s great calendar braids over her shoulders. The duo, Agnes knows, intend a yearly census, their annual ritual.
Shovel-ready, Bea jokes.
To better show off your hair, assures Jena.
Agnes defends her sock assortment as ankle activism. Look at Winslow Homer. His illustrations for Harper’s show women my age, hey, our age, ice skating in dress coats and darling kid boots fitted with blades. They swing and sway on the arms of handsome men. The love hinge is the female ankle.
Iced, quips Bea, intense in her dislike of whalebone waists and other Victorian mores.
Dear Agnes is clueless, thinks Jena, watching her friend twirl, arms out, braids like a grand skirt, no, rink of many colors.
Bea rolls up her sleeves and rifles the bureau. Jena pitches rejects into a paper bag. Hit or miss.
Averse to loss, Agnes treasures her socks — the polka dots, Krazy Kats, soup cans, and tie-in accessories. What’s the harm of bras with matching dots, comic classics, and Andy Warhol canned goods? Agnes likes tomato soup, but friend Jena abhors the purple bobby socks. Sidekick Bea despises the green telephone knee-highs with kinky cords.
Oh well. Agnes knows her censors will shower her with pre-approved socks, department store decoys in tasteful earth tones. Coy, they will also gift her fuzzy yellow chicks, laughing porpoises, big-eyed tree frogs — socks more like plush toys than footwear so she won’t wear them on the street. Critter collectibles. Warning: washing them clumps the plush pile.
Forget these John Deere anklets and Go-Girl metallic threads, they yell.
Sock cops, Agnes calls back. She is preparing a lunch of goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and cured olives to lure them off-task. She uncorks an Aussie Shiraz. Divine bouquet with just a trace of Persian daffodil.
The friends know the drill and drop socks mid-arc.
Filling three wine glasses, Agnes defends rescued socks — the paltry anklet that lost its mate, tall dismal loner, squat fluffy orphan.
No, no, the friends declare. Ag, they nag, you can’t dress like that on the outside. Look professional. Wear matched plaid. Argyle. Tweed. Wear only our gifts, please.
Let them gloat in an ocean of milk. Like their socks matter? Agnes prefers contours about the ankle.
Quit acting out, they say. Wear tall boots.
Nothing doing, Agnes tells herself. The Independent Ankle is deserving, preserving a dynamic microenvironment in small hidden villages near the laundry room. There, she knows, angora blends and outsourced spandex exchange lint for sock partners, sock babies, stray sock pets. Singles may leave, scorn shoes of their own accord, meet, match, mend.
No tumble dry
No humble pie
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