Saturday, February 11, 2012

Losing My Temper

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

The Incredible Hulk

I'm discovering that I'm really bad at losing my temper.

I'm good at planning to lose my temper.  I can think up some genius lines while I seethe under the frustration of dealing with some other inconsiderate person's behavior. I'll happily zing these lines to other non-infuriating people (preferably those not acquainted with the infuriator) after the fact so that they can appreciate my wit and skill. But as for just opening my mouth and letting some jerkwad have it right then and there . . . can't do it. Lose my nerve every time.

I went to pick up some groceries today. It's Saturday, and so the place was pretty crowded. I only needed flour and sugar and a lightbulb (and ended up with some chocolate and a cherry soda as well, because eh, that's life), so I took up a position in the "Fifteen Items or Less"* lane and, since I'd left my Kindle in the car, proceeded to entertain myself by reading the labels on things.

There was an older gentleman behind me in line. I say gentlemen because I am a polite person, not because he is.

After we all had been waiting for a couple of minutes, he announced to his companion, "People in this line can't count."

In his defense, there were some folks in line ahead of us who had carts pushing the upper limit of fifteen items. This was very thoughtless and/or inconsiderate of them.

"Can't they count?" he demanded, after his companion (and the universe in general) failed to care about what he'd just said. "There're like three people in this line who can't count!"

I discovered a tasty-looking recipe for twice baked potatoes on the side of the container of spreadable flavored cheese I was going to buy.

"They should be kicking these people out of line," said the irate voice behind me.

I was, at this point, tempted to turn around and explain the problem with this. Yes, the cashier would be well within her rights to ask an exceeding-fifteen-items customer to go to another line. But then that customer would get upset with her, instead of waiting-in-line guy. It's Saturday. The store's busy. Someone's going to snap at this girl no matter what she does. If she just checks out and rings up Mrs. Seventeen Items, then the line keeps moving, which it won't if she provokes a fight by ordering the customer elsewhere. It's a Greater-Good-of-Society thing.

"Why don't they read the sign? It says fifteen items! This is ridiculous!"

The customer currently checking out seemed to be having some problem in processing payment. A manager had been called over to resolve the issue, whatever it was. What an unfortunate thing to have happen when the store is so busy!

"The nerve of some people!"

That did it. I picked up my basket of groceries and whipped around, feeling that flush of rage and heat and trembling that comes with an outburst of genuine anger, ready to tell this fellow member of the human race where he could stick all fifteen or fewer of his items.

What actually came out of my mouth was "Sir, I yield you my place."

All my other prepared lines, about how I'd much rather wait for half an hour to buy my groceries than listen to him for one more minute, fizzled and died. I moved over to the end of the neighboring line and pretended that someone had sent me a text message, just so I didn't have to make eye contact.

I was out the door with my grocery bags in under five minutes, while he was still stuck in the stalled less-than-or-equal-to-15 rut. Karma's a bi. . .t of a smartalec, huh?

So I did get to be smug, but I once again lost a magnificent opportunity to lose my temper. Oh, well. There's always next Saturday.

*It's fifteen items or FEWER. This is NOT a hard rule to figure out. If you can count the things, they're fewer, and if you can't, it's less. Less flour, fewer flowers. Less patience, fewer patients. Not difficult.**

**One of the reasons that attending the temple brings peace and tranquility to my soul is that the door to the women's bathroom is clearly labeled "Sisters' Restroom." The beauty of that perfectly placed apostrophe brings a tear of joy to my eye.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Of Corset Is A Good Idea

"Did you need the laces of your corset loosened?"

Queen Anne, The Three Musketeers

 So once upon a time I was in college, and I had nothing to do of an afternoon. And a thought occurred to me: I've never seen Gone with the Wind. I should watch that.

This turned out to be a bad idea. As anyone who has Asperger's Syndrome knows, sometimes something just sets you off and you can't think about ANYTHING ELSE for the next three months to a year. In this particular case, the compulsion was brief, but violent; I came out of my Gone-With-the-Wind-induced haze in about twelve weeks, the proud new owner of a circa-1854-ish summer gown, from shimmy to shoes. I was a lot poorer, and my poor sewing machine was a lot closer to the grave. But man, I'm proud of that dress. And the escapade began a continuing fascination with the history and practice of corsetry.

So today I thought I'd show off my collection. WARNING: the blog below contains pictures of corsets. They are fairly un-provocative, as I am modeling them all worn over t-shirts, but if you're easily horrified, you might want to go read something else.

Still with me? Okay.  Here's the one that started it all:

I'm not smiling in this picture because it's cold in here and I feel very silly smiling at my computer in a room all by myself. 

So this is my very first corset, the one I made all by myself. It's made of plain white canvas broadcloth, plastic zip ties, some grommets, four shoelaces and some bias tape that I still have not paid back to my friend Travis (sorry, Travis!) The only specialty part I needed was the corset busk (translation: the part that hooks together in the front). It was a heck of a lot of work, and I'm hecka proud of it. Also proud that it's machine washable. 


 This corset is short, coming up over the bust but sitting above the hips, because in the 1850s hips didn't matter because you'd be wearing three petticoats over them anyway. The idea here is to maximize hip-to-waist ratio, so my waist is pretty tucked (and can be more so, but I didn't feel like lacing it up that tightly) and my chest is smoothed out but not squeezed or anything.

In owning this corset for the last few years, I've learned a thing or two about society at large. When we talk about Victorian fashion, you always get someone tut-tutting about "Oh, those Victorians, wearing corsets every day that warped their ribs and squished their internal organs! What a repressive, objectifying, horrible thing to do! Thank goodness in our enlightened day and age we don't do that kind of thing . . . yaay for feminism!" There's the insinuation that the Victorians were all sexually-repressed perverts for finding such an unhealthy look desirable.

Well. Once I finished sewing this corset, just as an experiment, I wore it under my church clothes on Sunday.

People who had NEVER SPOKEN TO ME BEFORE came up to me to say hi, tell me I looked wonderful, and ask me if I'd lost weight. 

Enlightened age, my foot. At least the Victorians had the straightforward sense to know that the silhouette desired by fashion was only going to be achieved with a lot of lacing. These days, the prevailing wisdom is that supermodel bodies are achieved by minimal eating and maximum exercise, and that if you do not reach this ideal, you're not healthy, and are more over a lazy, gluttonous, selfish drain on society. Lies! All of it lies! Supermodel bodies are achieved with Photoshop, and healthy and skinny are NOT the same thing. Given the choice between wearing a corset, which I can take on and off as I please, and messing up my whole system with some new fad diet for months at a time, I'll take the corset any day.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now.

Anyway, when I got back from my mission and got my first real job, I treated myself to Corset #2:


Corset #2 is not of my own making, but rather a purchase from, which is a fine retailer if ever I saw one. It's not a historical corset, but it does evoke sort of a later-Victorian look. It's longer, extending down over part of my hips (the bustle was in by then, so narrower was better, from a front view) and well up over my bust. I love this corset, but it's not "under" wear by any stretch of the imagination; it's going to show through whatever I've got on, so I usually wear it over a fitted t-shirt and under a sweater or shrug. It was just too pretty to resist. Because this one's so much longer, it's harder to maneuver in (bending over is not allowed. Period) and squeezes my ribs more than I'd been used to in my Civil-War-style one. (This is the era of the warped ribcages.) However, it is boned in steel rather than plastic, which basically means this sucker will stop bullets. 

A month or so ago, while poking through a vintage clothing store with some friends, I came across Corset #3:

This thing is an honest-to-goodness antique historical corset of awesome. Obviously, this style is not so much with the waist-squeezing. My guess is that it's from somewhere between the late 20s and early 40s, by which time the drastic curves were out and straight, flat, and smooth was the thing to be. The rig-up is so different to anything I'd ever encountered that it took me a while to work out that it WAS a corset, and yet another while to figure out how to get the thing on.

Check that out. Six laces on either side, woven W-style through two rows of grommets, then drawn back into three buckles that pull towards the spine. CRAZY. You can see a triangular elastic panel towards the small of my back there, so whenever this was made, it was at least after the invention of elastic. The front is WAY longer than the back, which is odd but kind of more comfortable than the tall-all-the-way-around green brocade. Also, only the front is boned:


Or, rather, was boned. There are four stiffened boning channels running up the front of the corset, but only one of the steel bones was still there by the time I happened upon it. Doesn't much matter, though, since the channels by themselves hold their shape just fine. The bone is permanently warped into the shape of whoever was wearing it back when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This person seems to have been as well-endowed as myself, poor soul. Large chests were not the thing just then, and this corset drives that point home almost painfully if you wear it too long.

Also of interest is the closure in the back: