My Mother had a Purple Suit

My Mother had a Purple Suit. But we only saw it once.

Today I have to get some house work done. I am a butterfly housekeeper. I flit from room  to room about the house, gently flapping my wings in the heat and wondering why it is that I have come to this room anyway and wishing I was outside.  I am at the dining room table, tidying,…is that a hummingbird moth outside the window, wait where is my camera,  oh look I made a note about Mums purple suit,  mm,  where is my big notes pad,  A3 should not be that hard to find. Where did this empty wine glass come from?  Oh I had better dust the vitrola,  there’s that picture of Great Aunt Sis,  now where are Great Aunt Sis’ pearls.  I think they are in this drawer,  look, there is my pocket knife,  is that Hairy Mclairy (sheep)  I can hear bleating,  Now, where is my dog,  oh there he is on the verandah,  gee my hanging canvas chair looks comfy, oh look at all those tomatoes on the harvest table, I better bring them in and start some more summer sauce, this kitchen needs cleaning,  etc, etc, etc.

And you see I write at the same time, on the backs of envelopes, torn off bits of paper, paper towels, bank statements, shopping lists, margins in the newpaper.  My ideas cannot wait, they must be written immediately or lost forever. And the little bits of paper get condensed into the big planning book. So as I attempt to house-keep I will find these little notes and drift with a handful of unfolded clean laundry, or a half dried saucepan,  or cheese knife back to my desk in my cool summer study, make some vague notes and  start to write again.

Ok, phew, housekeeping is exhausting.  My Mother did have a purple suit.  And I will tell you about it. It is a very short story. But made her laugh for years.

My Mother was going out to some kind of gathering with my Father.  She was wearing a brand new purple suit. Maybe purple is too bold a word for the fabric, it was lilacy i suppose. As a child I  thought it was quite awful, though I would give at least a tooth to have it now.  It was a jacket and a skirt.  The skirt straight, with a kick pleat and a trifle shorter than my mother usually wore. A slim long jacket that reached the hem of the skirt. In my memory the fabric was a little bit shiny but  it was pre-miami Vice so I would say it was some kind of wool. She had cleaned her diamonds with toothpaste and a tooth brush that she kept specifically for this purpose, clipped on her gold bangles, a little foundation, red lipstick  blotted on a tissue, black heels, spray of perfume, pat of the hair, kiss kiss, green eyes shining, hanky into the handbag  and off they went.

They were back much sooner than expected. Here is what happened.

They were still at the appetisers stage, the men mooching about in one corner, the women mingling with their triangular handbags hanging on their arms, a little plate and nibbles.  My mother was gregarious, she loved people and so was happily chatting, in her broken voice, with her friends, when she saw to her absolute horror that there was ANOTHER woman in the room wearing the SAME suit in the SAME colour. Oh the poor woman she thought. My mother ducked slightly and cast about for Dad. When in doubt find Dad.

She gave him The Sign. He was confused by The Sign so early in the evening and so she had to move closer, stepping out of her ring of friends and gave him the sign again. We have to GO. She simply could not stay in the same room, they must leave.

Then the woman appeared in front of my Mother. Loudly proclaiming: Oh look we are wearing the same suit, where did you get yours?  My mother, casting stricken glances about for  Dad,  smiled sweetly and mumbled something. She never told me what. Trying to extracate herself from this conversation, before the woman became embarrassed. She just felt terrible for her because obviously my Mother looked better in that suit.  The poor woman. So the story goes.

My mother put down her tiny plate, she had not met this woman before she must be new,  then noticed that the lady had food on her face,  a little something had caught on her chin.  My mother felt doubly dreadful for the woman and trying to be kind,  made those universal Food on Face motions. The woman, oblivious, just kept chatting about this happy purple coincidence. So stepping closer my mother’s hand darted  in (of its own volition evidently) and wiped the food off the womans face!  But it would not move, so she quickly pecked at the stuff with her thumb and  finger every so delicately, to pull it off.  But it was attached to the womans chin. My mother had hold of a HAIR on the womans chin and was pulling at it!

Well the other shorter dumpier purple suited lady, squealed, leapt back and froze in silence.

My mother  was so mortified, she smiled an apology, shook her handbag higher into her elbow, raised her head, tried very hard not to look at her friends who were open-mouthed and about ready to roar laughing  and exited the premises immediately, to wait for my father in the car.

When she got home she sat on my bed and told my sisters and I this terrible tale, eyes alive with laughter and  horror, her hand over her mouth. She never wore the suit again.

Now back to my relocation housework.



40 Comments on “My Mother had a Purple Suit

  1. You make me feel so much better, knowing that there is someone else who flits about thinking about housework and doesn’t quite get there, well I am sure the important bits get done, but in the meantime, thank you for another delightful story. That must have been some hair, or your mother had very good eyesight… What is the Sign to Go, is it done with eyebrows, or with hand signals. Do you get Miranda in the US? I think you might like her… 🙂

    • My Mothers sign to go was a widening of her eyes and a minute motion towards the door. I think every old couple has a different one, maybe we should study them!

  2. Hysterical – just the sort of thing my mother would do. Am still laughing! And I think you must have a lot of “sisters” out here in Blogland like you who flit from one thing to another – why would we be blogging otherwise?!

  3. I can see where you got your sense of humor. This cracked me up. Greg and I are still perfecting out let’s go signal, we get our signals crossed on that. Except that is when we’re wine tasting. We have an intoxication-avoidance system we deploy, aka, dumping most of the tasting. We’re not spitters. He always knows when I hate the wine I dump really fast! This post also made me think of my own mother. I love prints that have a black background with red roses or large red flowers to this day because it was the pattern of one of the shirts she wore when she carried me to bed one night. With six kids, my parents didn’t go out much. But they went out that night. Also, she once concluded a parent-teacher conference by walking into the closet. So inspector Clousseau!

    • that is really funny, i have tears in my eyes laughing! walking into a closet.. how embarrassing.. I know what you mean about spitting.. how could they spit it out! and I am not a very good spitter if you know what i mean, the way i avoid getting roaring drunk at tastings (other than the tastings i get roaring drunk at) is to sniff.. I can smell wine in bar codes. It is my party trick, like soil, and sun and rain, kind of a weird talent, but going about sniffing then rejecting is not considered good form so i sniff and then turn brightly to my friends and say hey, try this. Then get lost in the crowd! lovely to hear from you katherine! c

  4. Oh my! Your mother! I would be mortified as well. On a different note, your description of how you were moving from room to room reminded me of “The Sound of Music”…”I fleetly flee, I fly!”

    • Oh chunk, I loved that movie, i can probably sing the WHOLE SCORE to you if you have time! No? oh well maybe some other time then!! c

  5. OH, you’ve done it again. I literally had my hand to my mouth at the horror! LOVE your stories. Oh, and I too, write little notes on tiny and random bits of paper…and then lose them or don’t understand them or…but yet I still do it. It’s an addiction.

  6. That was sooo funny, being a fellow kiwi bird, I can just imagine that room. . . men one end, the women around the kitchen end – I can so see all the dresses, handbaged ladies and brill-creamed short-back and sides on the men ! I have been known to brush `things` off my grown children`s faces which , I might add, does not go down well ! ?
    I love your very distinct NZ humour ..

  7. Oh, Cecilia, that’s HILARIOUS! My daughter is sitting behind me waiting for me to brush her hair, but I have to tell you how funny this post was. You know, before I forget 🙂 Thank you so much for that laugh, sweet lady. Love it!

  8. Now that was funny! Your poor Mother. I give her credit, though, for telling you and your sisters about the ordeal. Not many would have, to be sure. Did you know that Mamie Eisenhower and a guest at a White House dinner, also, wore the same dress? Mamie walked over to the mortified woman and complimented her, saying she hoped that she looked as good as the guest did in her dress. Of course, there’s no mention in the story of Mamie plucking a hair from the guest’s chin but that’s probably due to respect for the Office of the President, or something like that.

    • Oh, John, thank you, i wish my mother was still alive I would tell her, she would be thrilled to be in such esteemed company. c

    • Oh we could form a sisterhood, like a book club, and our meetings are online as we discuss our latest ploys to avoid housework, blogging being one of them! c

  9. Too funny! What a lovely story C although I do feel for your mom – I can just imagine her embarrassment when realising it was a hair on the lady’s face! Still, FUNNY!
    Hope you are having a fantastic weekend and hope you manage to ignore the housework.
    🙂 Mandy

  10. Dear Cecilia, I loved this story and yes, made me laugh too. You are amazing again, and also I loved this Butterfly housekeeping! You have a wonderful writing style, always so nice to read. Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

  11. I am going to call this your Jack Russell post! I write about 10 blogs at once in my head, and then can never remember them – so your note writing is a better plan! Lovely story C 🙂

  12. “…they must be written immediately or lost forever.” Same here, and same reaction: Drop the pick, or shovel, pitchfork or hammer in my hand and run for the first scrap of paper I can find…whilst repeating over and over the gist of what’s just fluttered through my mind, least I forget the second, third, or even the first line. Arrrggg.

    • I know, I have scraps of peper jammed into boxes on my desk with that crucial word or line, upon reading the whole story is back! c

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