Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alive women don't wear plaid either

I went shopping the other day and realized, to my horror, that plaid clothes are making a comeback. The mere thought of this makes me shudder.

I’m not a big fan of plaid clothing. Never have been; never will be. And I don’t mean I just don’t care for plaid, I mean I break out in hives and start itching at the mere thought of plaid clothing, which is eerily similar to the physical response I have at the sight of clowns. But I digress.

Why do I feel so strongly about plaid, you might ask? Two words: Catholic school.

Beginning in first grade, I was given the plaid uniform to wear EVERY DAY FOR THE NEXT EIGHT YEARS. Think about that … outside of weekends and summer vacation, I had no choice whatsoever on what to wear for a solid eight years.

There ought to be a therapist who specializes in this, but you’ll be surprised to hear there is not. Trust me, I’ve checked.

Sure, at first I was excited to wear the uniform, especially since I had watched my three big sisters march off to school in their matching uniforms (in the ever-lovely colors of forest green, gray and black, I might add). But once the novelty wore off, it became a bit of a grind.

“Wasn’t it nice to not have to give a second thought to what you’d wear each day?” friends ask, meaning well.

Sure, just as much as you’d like eating the same breakfast of a hard-boiled egg every day for EIGHT YEARS, I think.

Too much of a bad thing is just – well, bad.

Never mind the feeling of suffocation these restrictions placed on my freedom of expression by the time I was in eighth grade. I wanted to be adventurous, experimenting with respectable clothing choices, such as leg warmers, parachute pants, and jean jackets (with the collar turned up).

Can you say “Hello 1980’s?”

As if it wasn’t awkward enough to be a 13-year-old in the early ‘80s walking to and from school in this hideous plaid monstrosity, there were other hurdles to jump.
Exhibit A: The Bay City Rollers. In the late ‘70s, the Scottish pop band was promoted as the “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh.” I’m sure that is because nothing says rock-and-roll like matching tartan plaid outfits on grown men, am I right?

Exhibit B: The Outsiders. The book read by all middle school students portrayed the gang fights between the Greasers and the Socs (short for socialites). In the book the Greasers are the well-meaning, mistreated and misunderstood underdog while the Socs were just jerks. Of course, every time a Soc is mentioned he is wearing a … wait for it … Madras plaid shirt. I rest my case.

Exhibit C: Daisy Duke. Back in the ‘80s the Dukes of Hazards was popular, as was Daisy Duke, the racy side-kick country girl who had a penchant for plaid shirts. Of course Daisy tied her plaid shirt above the waist and wore hot pants, neither which is acceptable dress under the Catholic School Girl Dress Guide of 1981.

Now, I can wear gingham shirts (the younger step-brother of plaid, which was just not brave enough to cross paths with one another). I can even wear argyle (the slightly off-balance sister of plaid).

But if the ‘80s film is right, and “Real Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” neither does this girl. Ever again.

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer in Winchester, Ore. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Aloha, owwwiieeeee

Have you ever lived under the illusion that you were better than you really are? Or have you found yourself assuming you can still do the things you were adept at when you were, say, 18? Have you found that some physical movements that were once common place, now often result in a trip to the chiropractor?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, take heart … I am right there with you, my friend.

Our 12-year-old daughter has taken up hula dancing. I, fancying myself the spry teenager of the late ‘80s, would sit and watch her rehearsals and think to myself, “I can totally do that.”

Ah, sweet delusion. How was I to know where you would lead me?

When my daughter brought home a few DVDs of the dances she was learning, I stopped making dinner one night to join her in the living room to practice. You know, throw the kid a bone.

Back in the day, I could watch any kind of dance move and mimic it no problem. Of course, there wasn’t much skill to the zombie dance moves of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, but that wasn’t all I could do. I could also imitate the entire Bangles video for “Walk Like an Egyptian,” so I had that going on. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my moves were multi-faceted.

So in my mind, I’m thinking, “This will be no sweat. Let me run through it once with Lily and show her how it’s done.”

The video started and her teacher, a Roseburg woman who’s been teaching hula for years, popped up the screen and started dancing. We were barely two beats in and I was already behind. “No problem,” I told myself. “You’re just rusty after all these years. Muscle memory will kick in anytime now, pal.”

Next thing I knew, Lily was onto another move and I was still getting my arms to do the side-to-side move that hula is known for.

“No, mom!” said Lily. “Don’t move your fingers like that! Move them like this!”

Hold up. Why is my 12-year-old daughter telling ME how to move? Clearly she doesn’t know who she’s dealing with. Has she not seen me dance along to “Dancing in the Dark” by The Boss?

The next move was something with our hips that is not humanly possible. I seriously don’t know when my hips became disjointed, but I resembled Bambi the first time he tried to walk.

By this time, Lily was doubled over laughing. At me. The original (self-proclaimed) ‘80s valley girl.

What kind of lunacy is this?

By now I was completely out of sync and so far behind, that this particular Soul Train was ready to run right off the tracks. Plus I was out of breath and sweating. After 60 seconds of hula.

My how the mighty have fallen.

At that point, I grabbed my apron and went back to making homemade pasta e fagioli, something I truly am still good at. But just to show I was still cool, I turned on the Bangles Pandora station while I cooked and danced a little while I stirred.

Eileen Burmeister is a Winchester-based freelance writer. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

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