“Yes,” Emma says aloud, “yes.”
She is startled by the sound of her own voice; pauses. “That´s exactly it, like Amanda said: that’s why we’d rather wear pants. It’s not because only women fifty and above wear knee-length skirts anymore - and we refuse to be associated with the crowd we belong to… It’s the pantyhose. With pants, you can wear socks; with a skirt you have to wear pantyhose – pull it up...” she pulls it up, “... one leg after another... and then up and over your bu- Fuck!”
Emma looks at those three fingers now sticking through the hole she´s just poked in the hose by pulling them up a little too resentfully. The three fingers look back at her, reminding her of a long-gone teen-age Amanda.
Amanda had not been sure, that morning forty years ago, that they would be allowed into Church for Sunday Mass. The priest had even put up a sign just outside the door: "No bare legs in our Church."
Amanda had said, "Let´s bring a shawl, we can wrap it around ourselves if they have a problem with our hotpants." Hotpants were the latest craze in the spring of nineteen seventy-one; very short shorts that were sported all over town, and around Cathedral Square too, blessing the crowds with the sight of eighteen-year-old legs over platform sandals.
As soon as Amanda and Emma stepped inside the cool darkness of the Cathedral, eyes still clad in spring light, a young priest rushed towards them, horror on his face.
"You cannot! You cannot possibly expect to be admitted to the House of God in such... while you... so indecently exposed!"
Amanda pulled out the shawls with a speed and a smile that didn´t match her words, "Oh, I´m so sorry, we’ll cover up immediately!"
The young priest averted his eyes but didn´t move. "Ready?" he said almost immediately.
"Yes, Father." Amanda´s voice was more amused than contrite. Father was just a few years older than the girls; but when he looked at them again to check their coverup, he had a face of a thousand years.
"And," he said.
"And?" said Amanda.
"And where is your veil? Don´t you know that you are supposed to cover your head, in the House of God?"
Amanda gave Emma a lost look. They had brought two shawls only, in case their legs got them in trouble. They had forgotten all about your head being liable to get you in trouble too. Though men bared their head, in Church.
Emma and Amanda had to leave. Only one of them could have stayed, wrapped up in both shawls. So they both went.
Emma is still looking at those three fingers sticking out of her pantyhose when the phone rings. It´s Amanda. Bubbly, as she still is, in spite of the years and all the other changes.
"Hey, Beauty. You ready for Church?"
"Pulling up my pants", Emma says automatically. "See you downstairs in five."
published 27 February 2012