Boomer Memoir

I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead in It!

Carole in her Daughter's Jam's Dress from 8th Grade

Carole in her Daughter’s Jam’s Dress from 8th Grade


This phrase struck a chord when my friend, and previous office-mate at Monterey Bay Properties, Barbara, said it at a girls’ luncheon; a mini going away party held at Café Cruz in Capitola, just before my final trip of the move to Costa Rica. Mind you, when I say “girls”, it is a term of endearment. The baby of the group is fifty-three; most of us, including me, collect social security. After researching the shipping costs and rules, I decided to limit myself to the two suitcases American Airlines allowed, divest myself of most possessions, only carry the few sentimental items that would fit in the two checked bags, the carry-on and the personal item, which in my case was a backpack stuffed with Waterford candle holders, a vase my daughter, Chelsea, made in the second grade, two gorgeous champagne glasses Tyler and Colette gave me the previous Christmas, an Annie-Glass dish which was a wedding gift to Don and I from Nancy and Jean Castle , and a few family photos. Toward the end of lunch, I reached into my shopping bag and handed each of my friends a little something to remember me by. While in the midst of packing, moving, making Goodwill runs, I picked out the precious martini glasses I had painstakingly collected over the years, and set them aside for distribution at the gathering. There were unique glasses stolen from cool bars in Santa Cruz, Miami, Las Vegas, and some I actually bought. I didn’t have time to gift wrap, so in my haste to make it to lunch on time, I grabbed some packing materials that were stacked in the corner from another move. They had a nice cushy white layer on top of a blue plastic layer and they were the perfect size to individually wrap the glasses.  After two or three were handed over and unwrapped, Berni said: “Wait a minute. Are those diapers? They’re diapers, aren’t they? You wrapped the martini glasses in diapers?!” At which point Barbara reached down beneath the table and surprised me with a beautifully wrapped silver and white package. “Oh, wow. What is this? I hope it’s small, I can’t carry much more.” To which she replied” “Don’t worry. It’s small alright.” “Oh, something to wear?” I squealed. “Well, YOU can wear it and get away with it. I wouldn’t be caught dead in it!” I ripped through the tissue paper surrounding the light-as-a feather item and there it was: a white lacey thong undie with the little blue satin bride’s bow on the hip-band. Everyone at the table howled. Yes! I would wear it. After all, I was still a newly-wed, right? So what if it was my sixth husband. Sixth time’s the charm! I would carry it to Costa Rica and let it do its magic. So, a few months later, just after moving from Atenas to the beach at Esterillos, we were invited to dinner at our new neighbors’ house. Don was working out of the country, so I attended the dinner alone. I was the first guest to arrive as the others were on “Tico time”. The hostess, Annette, was scurrying about in the kitchen; I was perched on a barstool trying to stay out of the way. As I sat there taking in the atmosphere of her adorable, perfectly appointed beach home, I zeroed in on her attire. I suddenly gasped: “Is that a JAMS you’re wearing? It is, isn’t it? It’s a JAMS!” She looked up as though caught slipping a Knorr’s Hollandaise package into the blender: “Uh, yeah. Actually, it is a JAMS!” We both started giggling until we were snorting. She said: “I wouldn’t be caught dead in this at home (San Diego).” “Yeah, I know what you mean.” I said. “I have couple of JAMS outfits that I wear here that must be at least twenty years old!” “But they’re perfect for here, right?” “Exactly. So when you go home, look for more JAMS in Goodwill. We’re both about the same size, 5 or 7. We have to build up the beach wardrobe. Maybe they’ll make a comeback. Meanwhile we can wear them happily here, smugly smirking, knowing we wouldn’t be caught dead in them at home.

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