Curtain Call

I think it was on account of seeing the play “Fiddler on the Roof” the night before that drove me to finally hem the curtains in my living room today. It’s been almost four years since I bought and hung curtains that were about three feet too long. I just didn’t have it in me back then to pull out my sewing machine and do the work so I used those black metal clippy things that are for holding big stacks of paper together to get the curtains off the floor and above the heat registers along the wall. We had lived without curtains for almost two years, so I felt pretty accomplished actually getting them hung. The overly long length was a technicality that didn’t bug me a whole lot. I was just happy that the occupants in the house on the hill could no longer see me in my nightie. But that’s a different topic.

It was maybe all that talk of the tailor finally being able to buy a sewing machine and support Tevye’s oldest daughter that must have put a subliminal message in my head “Heather, it’s time to hem the curtains.”

Though actually, it started with Grant asking me what I wanted to have for dinner. It was 8am and I was already spinning with about 100 things that I wanted to do on my almost free Sunday and thinking about DINNER was not one of them. So I got pissy with him and said “Why do you always ask me that and then when I say ‘How about ____?’ you say ‘No yuck’? Why don’t we just decide who is going to cook dinner on which nights this week and when it’s your turn to cook, you have to decide what you’re going to cook without talking it to death.”

And then he got pissy with me and said “FINE! You cook tonight!”

I said “No problem! I’m cooking meatloaf. Or maybe cereal! It just depends on how many of the other things I get done today that I actually want to do. I feel like I need ADHD medicine just to figure out what is the most important to me. Right now I’m paralyzed with indecision so I’m probably not going to get ANYTHING done and it’s all your fault because you had to ask me such an annoying question.”

Grant of course was not listening to my ranting. “I could put a pork roast in the oven. It’s snowing and very, very cold outside, so I’m not grilling anything. You know what sounds really good? STEW.”

“I could cook stew if you go to the store and get all the ingredients.” I said. He still wasn’t listening. Thank God.

“I know. We can have meatball subs. It’s decided.”

“I thought I was cooking. Why did you involve me in this conversation?”

“I just needed a sounding board.”

Relieved from the horrible pressure of cooking I suddenly felt like I had a ton of time on my hands and it became very clear it was time to finish what I started four years ago and hem the damn curtains (on account of the tailor whispering in my ear).

It actually took about an hour to set myself up. I couldn’t find the ironing board or iron and my sewing machine had about an inch of dust on it. The last time I actually used it was over twenty years ago when Grant bought it for me for Christmas when I said I wanted to learn how to sew, which I did. I made myself a bunch of really bad dresses then moved on to something new I wanted to learn how to do.

Each of the boys, never having seen me actually USE an iron or a sewing machine, asked me what I was doing. I said “I’m making play clothes for all of you children with these PERFECTLY GOOD curtains.”

Blank stares. My daughter Maria would have understood immediately. She was a nun in THAT musical. The one non-singing nun. Her boyfriend was Captain von Trapp and ANOTHER GIRL played Maria. This is a dark and ironic memory for MY Maria. Which is why she cringes every time I start singing “How do you solve a problem like…”. She blames me because I didn’t buy her singing lessons.

Anyhow. The hardest part was actually ironing the seams to be sewed. I told the boys that ironing has been scary for me since I burned my hand when I was five years old ironing my dad’s handkerchiefs because my mom felt like it was important I learned how to iron. But this lead to a discussion on the grossness of handkerchiefs along with the silliness of ironing them. Kleenex is for sure a greater thing than sliced bread.

Then my bobbin kept tangling up in the machine and I was reminded of the time I took apart my mom’s sewing machine when I was ten and didn’t put it back together properly. I never wanted to sew back then but the machine itself was mesmerizing to me.  In memory of this, I used her favorite sewing machine swear word: “cocksucker” every time my bobbin got stuck. It felt like my mother was in the room. She was an amazing seamstress when  her sewing machine wasn’t desecrated by a ten year old.

I had enough material from the curtains to recover all of the mismatched throw pillows that the dogs had nibbled and drooled on so I did that too and everyone was pretty much astounded and in great awe of my amazing skills. Caught up in the moment, I boldly  declared that I would perhaps paint the now very exposed walls in another four years or so. But in my head I was thinking that it would be sooner if I had servants in the house to help me like the von Trapp’s did before they had to flee the country. And that’s when Grant started singing “If I Were A Rich Man” as though he could read my mind and he DIDN’T EVEN GO TO THE PLAY WITH ME. So that was kind of spooky. But if we did have servants, I don’t think I would have anything to write about. So I’m glad for the curtain call today.

9 thoughts on “Curtain Call

  1. Awesome! Fiddler on the Roof is my favourite musical, although I never learned to sew–I just use a staple gun or hot glue. Also, why is it that the dreaded dinner conversation is so common? It’s the one thing Ken and I always argue about–he always says “what do you want to do about dinner?” and I say “what do we have?” and he says “nothing”. I live away from home all week, and I say all the time that I have no problem cooking if he would just buy some damn groceries!

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    1. Ha!! The grocery shopping and planning is the WORST part! Im reading your 1st book “Smile” right now! It’s so very good! I’m so inspired! You are a wonderful story teller! Excited for your next one. How amazing to be published! I would love to talk to you more about your writing discipline. Mine is not very strong right now!

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  2. Loved this. I was traumatized by a skirt gathered on to a waistband when I was in 8th grade, and I’m not sure I know where my iron is right now, so I get all that. But what you’ve reminded me of is what happened after my grandmother died. Grandpa already was gone, so it was time to disperse all the stuff and sell the house. We were going through things when my mother suddenly got a funny look on her face as she was evaluating the drapes. Short story? Grandma has sewn all her extra cash into the hems of the drapes. I can’t remember exactly how much money we found, but it was a lot. Keep that sewing machine. It could come in handy if you ever need to hide cash.

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