A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Sometimes a book or a movie can surprise you by making a story element or plot point out of an experience you've had, waking you up to the fact that you aren't alone, that whatever it was has happened to others.

Such is the case of this page from Adam Warren's awesome satirical comic book Empowered. Apparently other boys have gone through the hell I have.

I didn't go through the fabric store ritual with my mother, but I have been there more than once in my adult life. They are weird places, almost like some kind of cosmic anomaly. As soon as you step through the doors of a fabric store, time slows to a crawl. Everyone inside moves at a pace several times slower than people on the outside. It doesn't matter if the person you are with knows exactly what they are looking for, prepare to spend at least an hour lost in the land of cloth. As the accompanying boy, you can wander around on your own, but trust me, it's like one long chain of deja vu. Every bolt of fabric you stare at will suspiciously look like you've already seen it before. Far better that, though, than to keep wandering with the female who brought you there, because she will prompt you to feel each and ever swatch of cloth, oblivious to your blank stare that says, "It feels like cloth. They all feel like cloth. They aren't different. What am I missing?!?!"

I've actually discovered a worse-case-scenario for fabric shopping. I once went with comics writer Jen Van Meter on a fabric-acquiring mission. At the time her son was somewhere in his second year of life, if I remember correctly--still riding in a stroller, not yet talking. The only thing more unique and special to women than fabric samples are babies. The clerks in fabric stores, as you may have gathered from the above, need no distractions from their work, which is on its own comparable in speed to tar drying. As far as I can tell, these women have nowhere to go, nothing else to do, and the magical spell they are under means their bodily functions are actually decreasing. Eventually, they will move so slow, they will freeze in place, becoming living statues, idols to the sewing gods. Woe be to you, give them a baby to ogle, and you're screwed.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't warn my male readers about the trap of a girlfriend dragging you to one of these hideous places to pick out fabric for something they are going to make you. This will end up being the biggest tease you will encounter in your relationship. You'll be the good guy, you'll go and you will endure, and then you will receive no reward. Invariably, that thing you bought the fabric for will never be made. You'll have suffered for nothing.

(Strangely, knitting stores are the opposite of fabric stores. I've been sent on errands to buy yarn and needles, and knitting store clerks can't get rid of you fast enough. I don't know what kind of secret missions they are planning in there, but far be it from you to intrude. Or can they just sense I don't belong?)

Thinking about it all again, I'm filled with the fear, a shiver comparable to nothing else. There is comfort, though, in finally knowing I am not alone. Is there a support group somewhere, perhaps?

Current Soundtrack: My Chemical Romance, "Cancer (live);" Chemical Brothers, "Do It Again (extended);" Christina Aguilera & Andrea Bocelli, "Somos novios (It's Impossible);" The Concretes, "Reverberation/Postpone It;" Erasure, "I Like It/Sunday Girl"

Current Mood: scared

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All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich


Jenny said...

I'm that girl. I have cloth. Cloth to make things. I can't use a sewing machine to save my life, but I convinced myself in college that I'd start sewing outfits to go to clubz and barz in rather than spending fifty or sixty dollars a pop on a sequinned mini skirt. I'm sure my mom still has that material somewhere.

With my mom, my traumatic memory was "Lady Grace: bargain bra bin." Lady Grace makes me think about old women and nuns, and I hated pawing through the bras looking for that cheap cheap 38C bra that my mom wanted. Hated it.

Chynna Clugston Flores said...

Good... lord. Who wore a sequinned mini skirt in the '90s? Oh, right. Jenny. East coast, West coast!

Goddamn it, Jamie, I suffered hours upon hours in the fabric store as a child. I don't see any reason why you think it's something only men have to endure and hate. You think I sewed at all from birth to puberty? HELL no. Can you guess why I don't know how to do it now? It's still hard for me to go back into those awful places, even today, for whatever reason. I try, because I *want* to be DIY, but it's a struggle.

I also don't know where they get the sloths from to run these stores, either. It didn't occur to me that it's the same thing everywhere else, too.