Vein Ambition

LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION

The legs is the last to go. That’s what my mama always said.

Mine ain’t gone yet, but when I look at them in the mirror I got to admit, I miss pantyhose.

To be in style these days, you got to let your legs dangle naked right out the hem of your dress, knees and all; no pantyhose allowed. But even if you don’t care about style, right now it’s too hot to wear an under layer of stretch mesh, even if it’s guaranteed to cover your flaws, squish down your stomach and uplift your buns. And there were all those times the crotch would slither down, and you would have to get behind something and slap it back up, and God knows how many people took you for a pervert.

But with my lily-white skin – plus my purple varicose veins – my legs got the color scheme of K&B Drugs. (If you ain’t old enough to understand that, you ain’t old enough to worry about it.) I did read in the papers that long skirts are coming back in, but New Orleans is usually 20 years behind the times fashion-wise, so it won’t help now.

The thing is, my job calls for me to walk the streets. I am a tour guide in the French Quarter. (Get your mind out the gutter. This ain’t Playboy magazine.)

 Usually I just wear slacks or Capri pants, but it’s too hot for that right now. I need a skirt that lets the breezes circulate, if you know what I mean.

So what I do, I buy that fake tan in a tube, which you smear on your legs and then waddle around without letting your thighs touch each other, or your clothes, or the furniture until it dries.

You could probably sell tickets to this performance.

I learned from experience that there’s a few things to be careful about. Don’t let the cat rub up against your legs while you’re drying. (If you notice some lady all gussied up in high heels with one bare tanned leg and one very hairy tanned leg, she’s got a cat. Me, I always stomp around and growl while I’m drying, so the cat thinks I’ve gone nuts and hides under the bed.)

And you got to scrub your hands real careful, immediately after applying this stuff, so you won’t have tan palms. (Tan palms is probably linked to some kind of sin I don’t even want to think about.) I don’t take no chances. I use blue rubber gloves, like doctors and cat burglars use. They also come in handy when I change the cat litter box.

The other morning, when my daughter Gladiola had spent the night at her friend’s house, I had the chance to shower and take my time applying my suntan before I went to work. When I put on my rubber gloves, I realized they were the last in the box and I thought to myself, I better change the cat litter now, in case I don’t get a chance to pick up another box of gloves right away.

 I stroll into my kitchen, naked as a jaybird except for the rubber gloves, but who cares, because I’m the only one home. I crouch down under the kitchen sink, which is the only place in this tiny apartment where I can stick a cat litter box, and I’m scraping it out when I hear a key turn in my living room door.

Somebody yells, “You home, Ms. Modine?” at the same time I hear feet clumping in. Louie the air conditioner man. I had asked my gentleman friend Lust, who’s also my landlord, to get Louie to check it, but I didn’t think he’d get the key and barge in at 7 a.m. this morning.

Now, my front door leads into the living room, which is between the kitchen and the bedrooms and bathroom. The inside unit to the air conditioning is above the broom closet in the kitchen. Where I’m crouching in my blue rubber gloves.

With lightning speed, I grab a dishtowel to cover my essentials and skitter under the table. This table has a glass top, but thank God, I got my festive Fourth of July plastic tablecloth on it at the moment.

I see Louie’s big feet cross the floor with a stepladder. The feet disappear up the ladder, then Louie says, “Gotta get a new filter.” He clumps down, and the front door opens and shuts. I snatch that tablecloth, spin myself into it and run for the bedroom before he can get back.

I should’ve realized that when Louie said he needed a filter, he was talking to somebody. That somebody, Louie Jr., is standing in my living room, between me and the bedroom, waiting for his daddy to come back.

Thank God I’m now very modest in my patriotic tablecloth and blue gloves. I say, “Good morning,” and swish past him to the bedroom, ignoring his jaw, which has dropped to the floor.

 I don’t come out until I hear them clomp away, probably to tell Lust that his lady friend thinks she’s Wonder Woman.

Then I hurry off to work. While I’m scurrying along, some kid in a Saints T-shirt glances at my legs and says “Nice tattoos.”

Huh? I look down and realize I never smeared on the fake tan, and there are my veins in their purpley glory.

“Cool,” he says.

 That’s an idea. I could save money on fake tan. I could get a ballpoint pen, and work out some designs …

 But when I tell Gladiola, she says, “Puh-leeeeeze, Ma. Just get a long skirt.”

So I guess I will. I’ll lead the long-skirt trend in New Orleans, like a regular fashionista.

So long, legs. It’s been nice.
 

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