Putting on the Dog
Okay, the lady in the drug store didn’t quite look like this photo of Joan Crawford all vamped out in some movie, but I didn’t get a photo of the subject of my story. And a visual beats a thousand words.
When I say fox fur can you imagine this fashion nightmare? No? Joan has it slung over her shoulder but the more uptown lady of the 1930-40’s wore it around her neck, the fox’s head meeting it’s nether end right in front. Looked, in fact, as if it was biting its own tail. Worn over a slim tailored suit, hat and gloves equaled Chic.
My two brothers and I were born in a three year period, so when I say ‘little brother’ it is a figure of speech only. But being the eldest I still pulled rank.
We’d slicked up and gone to town with a list from our mother. Little kids could do that back then, we didn’t know about crimes against children, and our town was about ten businesses all on one street. Thinking back, we were so naïve and innocent. Was it because television had never entered our lives? And we had never seen a lady like the one in the drug store. She was dressed to the nines in the aforementioned ensemble.
She may have been passing through our little town or just descended from a different planet. We three stared at her like she was a museum exhibit. I gripped both my brothers hands. (Remember, I was the boss.) Each processing the experience in our individual way. I was memorizing the suit and ten years later I would be wearing one just like it, minus about six inches on the hem.
My brothers looked aghast. My middle, little brother turned to me and said in his surprisingly deep little-boy voice. “Dot, (me-The Boss)….Dot, why does she have her dog around her neck?”
For a moment in time all sound and movement stopped. The store proprietress, the fancy lady and me all stunned by David’s question, which in all fairness was one that the rest of the world would ask at a later date. I telegraphed my answer by squeezing David’s hand and gritting my teeth. Bruce The Innocent, the littlest Harcourt , obviously thought it all great fun and just grinned.
When the freeze-frame moment was over the fine lady huffed out of the store and Mrs. Flynn ,the druggist, educated us country bumpkins . “Fox ,F-O-X, not dog!” she said in a hoarse reprimand.
I silently presented our list, and we exited with our package.
I felt the giggle trying to get out and shook for a while with internal laughter, trying to be the righteous big sister. No use. We staggered and laughed like drunks.
Then that kid that grew up to question everything said: “Hey Dot, really why’d she have her fox wrapped around her neck?”