Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by B.j. Yudelson
"Brown is the new black," a friend comments to me. I look around to see all my friends wearing the season's "in" color. Beige skirt with brown vest. Sweater striped in shades of brown. Brown plaid dress. Brown suit. Stylish brown hats all around me.
I am definitely out of sync in my black skirt, black and white print blouse over a red shell, black and red Calder-like earrings, and a black hat. If a friend had called and said, "Let's all wear brown today," I couldn't have complied. The only brown-hued item in my entire wardrobe, khaki hiking pants, is not exactly synagogue attire.
I wonder to myself when I last purchased something brown. Suddenly I see myself in the brown and tan checked coat my grandmother gave me when I was seven or eight. The wool still feels rough against my skin, not soft and snuggly like the white bunny-fur muff I also recall from my childhood. The coat was so roomy that I'd like to think it was slightly belted in the back to give it, and me, some shape. It wasn't exactly ugly, but it surely wasn't pretty. It was, as my mother said, serviceable.
My guess is that I wore it to school all week and then to Sunday School on the weekend. Coats, not jackets, went with the dresses we little girls wore to school in the ‘40s. All I remember for sure is that the coat fit me for two years. Two dreary years. And it didn't get any prettier.
I picture my mother in that same time period dressing for an evening out in a shapely black dress that set off a pearl and diamond brooch or a gold locket. I saw that black was pretty. Black was dressy. Black was elegant.
I finally outgrew my expensive, drab, scratchy coat--and grew into my sister's identical one for another two years of wearing durable brown checks.
Fashionistas may see brown as the new black, but I'll stick to the old black, thank you. Black that sets off my silvery hair. Black that is the perfect foil for the radiant purples, fiery reds, and sparkling fuchsias that make me feel as sophisticated as my mother seemed to me all those years ago.
Even the thought of a brown as rich and luscious as chocolate can't overcome the acrid memory of four years in serviceable brown.
B.J. Yudelson, Rochester, New York, wears brown only when hiking or canoeing (those khaki pants won't wear out). When not writing, hiking, or paddling, she tutors in a city school, knits brightly colored garments, and reads.
Back to Flashes