Monday, June 09, 2008

You Know You Were in the Middle East Too Long When...

Last week, New York had a few kinda chilly days.

Then, wham!

We were hammered. WNYC was predicting 97 degree weather today, though I'm not sure what the thermometers topped out at. The humidity was, of course, dreadful.

Last weekend—in an attempt to push myself along in my planned reassimiliation, or was I just trying to impress someone??—I bought clothes. Lots of clothes. Clothing without sleeves. Skirts, the kind that didn't go all the way to my ankles. A skimpy summer dress. Clothes I could not afford.

This morning, I cut the labels off and tried them on.

I felt improper. Near-naked. Like I couldn't go out of the house.

The heat won and I made it to work in a frilly little short-sleeved blouse and a knee-length skirt. All I need is a little practice to get over the lessons I have ingrained in myself from living in other cultures, and from my daily culturally appropriate comic-book-costume policing.

And from my deliberate anonymity. On the road, I don't want to be noticed. I strive for plainness to avoid confrontations. Like say, men exposing themselves to me or making inappropriate remarks about what activities they have planned for me.

Hard to believe I used to wear pretty much anything. Go to Maxwell's in a slip? Is it a nice slip? No problem! And now the mere thought of a strapless top makes me go pale.


soup said...

It works the other way, too. During a week vacation on the beaches of mallorca, I started to feel very different about wearing a speedo-type bathing suit in public. Luckily, I didn't bring that euro-trend back to the states-although I did return with a pair of those calf-length pants (like Nadal was wearing at the French Open). Friends say they know it's summer when they see me in my "man-capris".

Marie said...

Oh dear, that's like the socks I wore with sandals once that made it into the main photo on I have to crop it out every time...

Amanda Castleman said...

Oh, but you missed once and have suffered endless amounts of grief as a result!

(Or was it the Hippo ad that featured the socks and sandals? The sheer sartorial horror has nudged all further data from my brain...)

Anonymous said...

same with me when I was living in Ecuador. the americans/tourists stood out cause they were the ones wearing shorts and tanks and tshirts! I kept it to longer sleeves, no tanks - always thinking how can I blend in; what are the local women wearing (never shorts-Ever!); and how do I avoid the unwanted comments/confrontations. Here in NM people show alot of skin - especially middriff (when maybe some should cover up the "muffin top") so I look practically "Amish" in long shorts & a tank. Haha! & I too have actually worn socks with sandals. Something I wouldn't have done anywhere else.
Marie I LOVE the red velvet? dress! And totally loved the voodoo print too.
Paula B.