So raise your hand if you know what smocking/applique is. Alright, y’all born in the south can put your hands down. We know you know what it is. But I defy my northern compadres to say with a straight face that they know what smocking is. I didn’t know what it was when I first saw it and I’m not sure I have a grasp of what it is even today.
I do know that my son was dressed in it for a time, when he was between the ages of 6 weeks to 1 yr old. I also know I was not involved in the decision for him to wear it. To tell you the truth I’m not sure I’ve have ever been given a good explanation from Tracy on what it is. So I did some digging.
The technical definition: smocking |ˈsmäki ng | |smɑkɪŋ| |ˈsmɒkɪŋ|
noun: decoration on a garment created by gathering a section of the material into tight pleats and holding them together with parallel stitches in an ornamental pattern.
Some definitions go on to accurately state that smocking was used mostly on women’s undergarments in the 18th and 19th centuries. This coincides with my practical definition: clothing designed for the express purpose of making a perfectly normal looking boy, who is unable to object or defend himself, look like a girl.
My objection to this particular bit of southern culture is that very fact. It is ambiguous in it’s gender identification. This is especially true when you allow your child to grow his hair out because you just can’t bring yourself to cut off his curls. Closing in on his 1yr birthday, Frank had a good rug going. So add some good ole` smocking and well he looked like a girl. We didn’t even have to wait for his hair to grow for people to mistake him for a girl when he was all smocked up.
The first time Frank got smocked we were going to church and I think he was maybe 6 weeks old. I walk in to dress him as I always did on Sunday and Tracy had mysteriously beat me to it. When I saw him I was all “what the heck is that?” Her reply was something to the effect of, I’m the mom and I get to dress him, then added and I quote, “I gave myself 1 year to dress him like this.” Even Trump doesn’t make deals this shady. She made a deal with herself! Who does that? The Donald sure as heck doesn’t.
Of course it makes sense, cause there was no way I was signing on to that deal. In the military we called this, “Better to ask forgiveness than permission.” Although there was no forgiveness being asked, it was more of an invoking of motherly rights. She carried him, had a c-section scar to prove it and I got nothing. Lesson to you young lads, once the “I carried him for 9 months” card is played, you are done, just walk away; especially if the tike came out through the sun roof, because you not only get the statement you have to see the physical proof. Oh I had hooked my wagon to a shrewd one alright.
However, when we get to church one of our young pastors sees us and proceeds to ask, how old is SHE now? This dude knew we had a son and knew his name*. It was the smocking! Ha ha! Vindication, and it only took about 20 minutes. Then we go out to the lobby to feed him and a homeless dude who wandered into the church saw Frank in all his smocked up glory and asked, “What’s HER name?” Woo Hoo!! Can I get an amen from the congregation. Then the look on this dude’s face when I said his name was Frank was the same as me saying “Your honor the defense rests.”
Well, regardless of the mounting evidence to support my claims, and what was going to be a clear landslide victory with the jury, Frank was smocked for a year. Then unfortunately appliqued for another year due to a separate but equally binding deal Tracy had made with herself.
It was OK though. Vindication by the hobo and the pastor were enough to satisfy me. It’s like in golf when you hit a huge slice out of bounds but you hit it really hard and it travelled farther than you normally hit it. It’s still out of bounds but you’re cool with it. Smocking – it’s clearly out of bounds but I’m cool with it.
*in the pastors defense, he is presbyterian and they are trained not to listen to or remember facts about their congregations. I think they waste the brain-pan space on more important stuff like shorter catechism or something.