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Growing Up in the 1950's

The Blouse

By October 8, 2020December 9th, 20203 Comments

ONe fine day, as if out of nowhere, when I was about 9 or 10ish, there appeared in my closet a most exotic looking blouse. It caused the other blouses, hanging silently, to suddenly lose their self confidence in their own ability to attract my attention. They were simply outshone.

When I asked my mom about the blouse she simply said, one of their customers brought it in for us. My parents owned a neighborhood grocery store and all the customers were well known to us. My mom worked at the register and in the chatter that went between the customer and the register clerk, they got to know each other pretty well. She was told the blouse was from Russia.

Halloween was approaching. My mind excitedly put together the makings of this year’s costume. I would be a gypsy! That meant I would be laden with jewelry, golden earrings and whatever else I could add to look fabulous as I tricked or treated in my working class Western Mass. neighborhood. It was a given that I could wear as much makeup as I could slather on. The images of myself in this outfit were very appealing, hinting at an exotic , dazzling, wild far away world that I could inhabit, if only for a night.

Hanging on a hook in the closet was a perfect prop; a tambourine I’d used for a dance I’d done a few years past. It was covered with dozens of narrow pastel silk ribbons tied around the wooden rim. Their flutter was very satisfying.  Add it to the tingle of the metal jingles and you had a very satisfying instrument in your hands that required little technique to play.

So it began that I was a gypsy for Halloween for several years to come. To tell the truth, I don’t recall any of my neighbors commenting on my great beauty as they opened their doors to offer me candy. I was slightly saddened by that lack of recognition, but nevertheless I persisted each year and remained the eternal gypsy. The blouse remained in my closet for many years as a reminder of the possibility of transformation. from quiet schoolgirl to smart ass slut wannabe.

Then a few days ago as I was casually perusing the internet in the midst of covid boredom/fatigue, I spotted Ukranian blouses for sale.  Lot of them!  Mostly all, embroidered to the hilt.  I found myself wondering if I could still wear such a fabulous blouse as I now approach my 8th decade?  What would I wear it with?  I ruled out carrying a tambourine.I haven’t placed an order.Yet!


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


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