I thought I would try and combine a fashion post with a funny tale. For those of you who care, animal prints are back in fashion, and that makes me HAPPY! Out comes my leopard print Calvin Klein coat, my ancient leopard booties and now…my new python pants! These are the softest cotton bell bottoms (fancy leggings really) and made by a company called Originality. I browse the juniors section of the various department stores because I don’t want to look frumpy even though I am approaching my sexagenarian decade. Shall I be a sexy sexagenarian??? The black top is by Tribal with lovely sheer sleeves and the pendant a turtle gift from Trinidad and Tobago. The Kanna espadrilles are so comfortable…
I have been obsessed with snakes and snake print (not skin) for a very long time. At college in Chester I jumped at the chance to intern at Chester Zoo where I helped edit the magazine in 1983. It is a famous conservation zoo and ‘my’ magazine focused on a Dominican fruit bat facing extinction. This was partly because of loss of habitat and environmental issues. Fruit bats were critical to the banana crop of the Dominican Republic. Nobody could breed them in captivity until they figured out that the juvenile bats were being bullied and failed to thrive. Separating them until maturity solved the problem. Then they were re-introduced to the islands and we can eat bananas. Hurrah!
While I was interning, I expressed a desire to see a snake. In Scotland, we only have one venomous snake, the adder, and it is shy. As a hill climber I had to be aware of the danger but had never seen one. At Chester Zoo I was offered a trip behind the scenes at the Snake House and my eyes went straight to some baby snakes. The keeper laughed and said they were too venomous for me to go near (the babies often have more venom to protect them). Instead, he went straight to what looked like a blanket box, opened it and asked me to put my arms out. Then he placed a 20 ft Royal Python in my arms – I fell immediately in love. She snuggled in; contrary to my expectation her skin was warm and dry. She was very relaxed because she had just eaten a rat and it was warm in the snake house.
Since that moment, I have been trying to see snakes in the wild or in captivity. Our garden is full of them but they hide under the deck or in the reserve. Most are nonvenomous and very useful for keeping rodent populations in control. One of our venomous snakes is the copperhead and what a beauty she is! You can easily identify her because her markings look like Hershey kisses. A baby did rise to strike me because I frightened her. After backing away, I spoke to her softly and she slithered into the forest. Every new nature or landscape is an opportunity for me to find new varieties. One of my neighbors had a blue ribbon snake come up her bathroom sink during the drought but she just gently put it outside.
Back to fashion for those of you who can’t stand snakes. Around the age of 40 I was quite overweight but started to lose it steadily. Finally I felt I could wear normal size pants/trousers and saw a lovely pair of snake print trousers in Marks and Spencer’s. To my delight, a size 12 (US 8) seemed to slide on. Then I looked in the mirror and burst out laughing. I looked like a Burmese python that had just eaten a fat Capybara. That wasn’t really the glamorous look I was going for… At that time, I worked in a mixed sex office of engineers and administrators. At break time, I made everyone choke on their coffee when I related this hilarious snake tale but I always remember one of my female colleagues was horrified that I would share something so unflattering about myself. Her reaction revealed so much more about her personality than mine. I have always been comfortable about my sexuality whether plump or skinny and that leads me onto my last tale.
When I work and wear a skirt, I have to wear hose/tights. I guess this rule is to protect our eyes from varicose veins or funky toes? Anyway, I usually wear patterned or lacy hose to match my uniform. Two weeks ago, at 9 am, a silver fox came up to my desk and asked me if my hose were thigh high or went all the way up. WTH!!! # Me too passed him by, I suppose. I looked at him leering at me and decided I would try and kill him, although I am pretty sure that’s not in my job description. At this stage he hadn’t heard my Outlander sexy Celtic accent and I thought it was likely that he had a dodgy ticker. Perhaps he had also taken a Viagra the night before given his predation. So, I said –
“Actually these go all the way up but I do have some thigh highs in ecru lace that my husband loves. The only problem is that my legs are so slim that they tend to slip down to my ankles…”
He went bright red, made a comment about me not wearing a wedding ring, and reversed back to a seating area. Later on I had to shout to the general public about something that had changed. I walked over to him and said, “I’m not so sexy now that I sound like a fishwife, am I?” He was still alive when I finished my shift.