The Picnic

“But Jody, that dress in Lerner’s Shop window may not be ‘right’ for the school picnic.  I’m just trying to warn you! What are the other children wearing?”

“I don’t know, Mom. I don’t care! I want something different. I want to look nice and I want to choose it myself, ok?”

Jody could hardly contain her twelve-year old explosive excitement. Her mom had given her $5.00 to buy something for the picnic and agreed it would be her choice. She stood in front of the shop window on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida and imagined visions of herself, floating and frolicking, fairy-like, through the woods at the picnic tomorrow, looking wonderful!

It would be a ‘magic’, fun day!

The dress was typical 1940’s style thin, cotton fabric with stamped, tiny print red and pink roses with green leaves covering its expanse. The top of the dress is made of a shirred elastic base similar to a fitted bathing suit top to cover her tiny breasts and it falls in a straight gathered line at the waist to form a full skirt which flows to just above her spindly knees. It is ‘strap-less’ as Jody gasps with delight and considers it the most romantic, daring ‘sun-dress’ she has ever owned!

Jody is a hit at the party the next day: all the girls “ooh” and “aah” over her new dress.

The boys give Jody a more quizzical look: why would a girl wear a silly dress to a sand lot picnic?

“You can’t slide into first place wearin’ that”, gassed Joe,  from the sidelines.

But, all agreed: girls are silly, anyway, right? The boys shrugged it off as another implausible action of their classmate…all except Pat Hanley. Pat is taller and more mature than most of the boys. He has an inexplicable desire to see just how that dress works, though later, when asked,  cannot explain his actions, either!

“It was an innocent game of tag; give-me-a- break!”, said Pat.

“What happened, anyway?”

“I grab the top of Jody’s dress while Jody continues to run!”, says Pat.

Guffaws and shrieks and howls of laughter follow this volcanic action as Jody struggles for her maidenhood, red-faced and embarrassed. Jody and her dress, restored to its proper place, remain on the sidelines for the rest of the day. She never wears it again,  but that dress and the picnic remain in the deep-freeze of her memory, forever.