Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When You Inherit The Wrong Set Of Hands...

Hi -

My mother is an amazing woman. She bakes great bread and cookies, is a painter, ceramicist, makes all of her own dishes and mugs, lamps, wall sculptures, even decoupage. She also sews, and made many of our outfits when my sisters and I were growing up. Mom even plays the cello, her fingers flying up and down the strings.

I did not inherit her hands. I don't mean shape, because they aren't particularly narrow or tapered or even that special looking. I mean finesse.

I inherited my father's hands. Large, capable, and clumsy as hell. My dad built bookshelves, a doghouse, a complete dollhouse complete with electric lights and a doorbell, basic picture frames (four thin strips of wood nailed directly into the side of the canvas), and when I was a little kid, a funicular on cables over the gully behind our house. Every summer on the Jersey Shore, he'd repair things around the house and build stuff. He was also one of the greatest cooks to walk the earth.

Great, yes. But he was always smashing his hands with a hammer, dropping things, or cutting himself while chopping vegetables. When he was cooking, you'd hear a softly muttered "shit." A minute later he would have the damaged digit wrapped in a paper towel, bleeding away on our prospective dinner. At his memorial, my brother summed up my father's handyman skills: "Dad could fix a garbage disposal...with a crowbar." Finesse was not his strong suit.

What does this have to do with selling vintage clothing, you ask? Try repairing--oh, anything--when you've got hands like mine.

After my father's death, I found myself at our beach house, slamming nails into separating stairs, fixing furniture, hanging pictures (my brother took over the cooking duties). At my home I fix the furniture, set up the electronics, put up shelves.

But ask me to sew a simple, one-inch split in a seam, and you've got yourself an instantly ruined vintage dress.

Somehow, picking up a needle and thread seems to make my hands become three times their natural size. So does trying to pin anything, do up bridal buttons or hooks and eyes, or gently tug on material. There is always a loud "RRIIIIPPP" which means R.I.P. for the garment. Safety pins might as well be numchucks when I pick them up. I've tried sewing glue and other quick fixes, only to find the glue smeared everywhere (including me) except for the spot I meant to repair. This is why my listings say, "I don't sew."

Thank God Mom lives in the same city. But there's only so much stuff I can dump into her lap. She has bread in the oven.


1 comment:

lucitebox said...

I hear ya! I'm convinced I'm the spawn of a seal. These flippers of mine ain't got no fine motor skills.