Friday, October 13, 2023

Money & Me: School uniforms and Red lipstick (4/12)

My high school, "Malchika", was in the city of Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. It was five miles away from my parents’ town. It was strategically located two blocks away from the main pedestrian-only shopping mall. During school recess, we would lose track of time checking the fashion trends in the apparel stores. At that time, high schools required uniforms. Every high school girl across the country wore the same boring dark blue cotton apron with an oval white collar, and two pockets, tight with a belt. You could wear whatever you want underneath it as long as it is neatly covered by the apron. 

Identity was only to be found in personality, not in appearance.

One December, a traveling carnival set the stage on the vacant parking lot by my school. Oddly, the shooting stall also sold lipsticks and nail polish. Committed to standing out in school despite my dull uniform, and because my personality was not quite colorful yet, I decided to buy lipstick. I skipped buying lunch for two weeks in order to afford the coveted beauty product. And even though I only could enjoy wearing it in recess, when school rules didn’t matter, or on a secret date with a boy after school, I was giddy to liven up my dark blue uniform with fire engine red lipstick. 

Most rewardingly, I had learned that if I wanted something I could make it happen, with enough financial discipline and sacrifice.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:38 PM

    Is a sensualist someone to whom material things and appearance, plus scent, and sound, etc. (taste, texture) are almost all-important? Do people cross cultural barriers all the time, think differently in terms of the laws, and figure, what the heck, no one else will know about it? I remember Beth driving by me a million times, with the guys, her "crew," and daughter and her husband, from shit to shinola, even cutting in front of the buses I was on, to make a sharp righthand turn - and when I was walking, yelling out stuff like, "Is she familiar with the area, Tom?" (Tom was in her car then, but cut out of her "gang.") "Dull eyes!" (Then out the window to me): "Try red lipstick!" Another of her ploys was to go and pick up her son, Sam, from his bicycle, often right at the corner where I was waiting for a bus - at a bus stop for the millionth time. For example, School St. & Clark Sts. How apt, I thought wryly, for Beth, a school teacher (turned candidate and CS Reader, etc.), and why yell at me in a loud voice out of her vehicle what she was going to do, because otherwise I wouldn't have noticed them at all.