Thursday, October 18, 2018

OctPoWriMo Day 17: Definitions

I had a bit of trouble with today's prompt, less with the three variants of it, and more with defining madness. I've had (and still have) my share of mental health issues I'm working my way through, so I'm very familiar with dark sides and the feel of everything spiralling out of control.

What came to mind instead, after a good long think on the way back from choral rehearsals tonight, was a different sort of madness - one that many fellow singers and performers are very familiar with: The Saga of Dressing For The Occasion and the pressure-come-stress of it all (for those who aren't so familiar, most performers have so much black clothing in their wardrobe they could build a black hole. That's because more than half the performances they do require them to wear formal black.)

Here's my not-so-tongue-in-cheek take on the prompt (not-so, because of the underlying expectations and perceptions that necessitate the whole situation to begin with), in the pseudo-style of illustrated dictionary definitions.



Annual clothing sales are of the devil.
(So are major choral conducting events which necessitate
attendance at said annual clothing sales
in search of the next perfect black jacket or black pants or whatever else
the event has decreed but that’s another story.)

Or rather, all the Outfits You Cannot Afford are suddenly
somewhat within range of covetousness 
(covetousness is a sin. Especially when the black outfits in your wardrobe
have inexplicably taken over and multiplied like trolls on social media.
That's why clothing sales are of the devil.)

And then there’s that One. Perfect. Black. Outfit --


-- except it’s a size and a half smaller than is comfortable.
Do you really want to hold your breath
for a few hours on end?
No you do not. You really do not.

Parisian chic and sophisticated style aren’t substitutes
for oxygen, breathing, or turning purple in the face
trying not to give a demonstration of Exploding Seams
in the middle of conducting Camina Burana. Or Gilbert and Sullivan
(even though it would fit in the latter world quite well.)

But. It makes you look tall (at five foot nothing, that’s important.)

But. It’s slimming (of course it is, when your innards are compressed
to the width of a noodle and your ribs have migrated down
to your hipbones which have migrated
down to your knees and your stomach
is now located somewhere in your esophagus).

But it’s that One. Perfect. Black. Outfit --


-- So come that day you hook yourself up to an oxygen pack strapped around one thigh
like a concealed gun and holster, and arm yourself (and your students)
with old-fashioned smelling salts (those Victorians did know a thing or two)
and strict instructions on how to proceed if you
turn purple in the face and gracefully buckle like a tottering swan
in 4-inch heels –

but hey! At least you’ll be dressed in the pink of
Parisian chic and sophisticated style

Because it’s that  One. Perfect. Black. Outfit
(even though it’s a size and a half too small and you
are going to need to be inflated with a balloon pump
later on)

and even mere choral conductors
aren't immune from wanting to look glamorous
(even when passed out on the floor.)


Ron Potter said...

I think this is brilliant. It’s a short story in a poem. And the voice of the speaker, who wouldn’t love this honest, funny person.

Shuku said...

Thank you so much Ron! I can't tell you how many times I've gone through charades similar to this, whenever I've got to do a major performance somewhere. My wardrobe is practically all black, but it never seems to be enough! Annual clothing sales, I tell you... I'm glad you liked the poem!

Merril D. Smith said...

It is like a short story in a poem. Both daughters were in theater and chorus in high school and college. I remember lots of black outfits. (Except for those madrigal gowns!)

I deleted my Google+ account because of that breach, since I never used it anyway, but now I can't get notifications about your posts. :( I will just have to remember to check for it.

Shuku said...

Heeeeeee MADRIGAL GOWNS OMG. I remember having to hunt one down for a particular tour our chamber choir took to Europe, when I was an undergrad! (It was too big, and I looked like a tent, but IT WAS A BLACK GOWN DERNIT.)

No worries on the Google+ - besides, I'll be visiting you lots now, so whenever you remember, just drop by. :)

paeansunplugged said...

This is fantastic! I so love it.

Shuku said...

Thank you so much! I'm glad you do!

Sunita said...

Wow! A deep deep poetic prose. The collateral damage of an artist.Brillant presentation, Shuku.

Jane Dougherty said...

Any colour as long as it's black? I like your humour :)

Shuku said...

Sunita: Thank you! I'm glad you like it - it was a moment of massive irritation with the ordeal of having to find things to wear for performance.

Jane: AAAANY colour as long as it's black yes! The black clothes have taken over my wardrobe, all various shades of black too. It's amazing how fast they proliferate...

Sarpadeon said...

It reads very well, flows naturally and keeps you interested throughout. I like the humor and the constant tangents that keep interrupting this seemingly-everyday tough spot; the intrusive philosophical interludes that pop up as the mind tries to elevate the mundane to the level of deep. Love it!

Ornery Owl said...

When I was in the eighth grade a million years ago, the very tight disco jeans were the fashion. I would lie down on the floor to zip them up. Fortunately, my wise pet pterodactyl convinced me that squeezing my innards up to my neck was neither enjoyable nor smart. From then on, I have worn loose-fitting clothes.

Shuku said...

Sarpadeon: Thank you! That's more or less how my mind works on a daily basis (and oh boy does it argue with me on the merits of 'glamour' vs 'practical'). Glad you liked it!

Cara: I hear you there - I haaaaaaaaaaated trying to zip up tight jeans, I was a chubby girl, and while I wanted to be in fashion (don't we all at that age) I hated overflowing out of everything. And like you, now, I wear everything loose-fitting, unless it happens to be an occasion that calls for something that allows me to breathe AND fits a little closer!

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