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I have always liked to dress up. My entire childhood I jumped at the chance to wear twirly dresses and “tap” shoes while my sisters preferred jeans and sneakers. I liked skirts and ruffles and slips (what happened to slips?) and never had to be reminded to cross my legs, because unlike my heathen sisters I knew how to act in a dress. Mainly I got to dress up on holidays, but sometimes if it wasn’t gym day, I would get up extra early and dress up for school.

Such was the case one morning when I was eight. I had spent a considerable amount of time the night before picking out the outfit to beat all outfits. Apparel so amazing that I was sure it would skyrocket me to the top of the elementary school social pyramid, and every one would start looking to me for fashion advice. I had selected a black turtle neck. A black skirt. Black tights, and – get this – red penny loafers. The red penny loafers were brand new and ridiculously cool all on their own, but being the only pop of color on an otherwise black canvas, I just knew they would make me the envy of third grade girls everywhere. I jumped out of bed long before I had to and got myself ready. My face was washed and shining, my hair was brushed and hung long and straight, the kinks and bumps from sleep smoothed out. I pulled on my tights and made sure they weren’t wrinkled at the knee or ankle, (I didn’t need the elephant skin look dragging down the caliber of my get-up.) Skirt and turtle neck were wrinkle free and fitting perfectly. Finally, it was time for my penny loafers. I slipped my feet in and felt the warm glow of satisfaction wash over me. My ensemble was complete. One last glance in the mirror and I was off.

I headed down the hall on my way downstairs to eat breakfast before the bus came. As I stepped down the first of the thirteen wooden stairs I climbed a hundred times a day, my foot slipped. My brand new penny loafers had shiny, brand new soles! I felt myself pitch forward, my arms flailing in a desperate attempt to grab something, anything that would keep me upright; but there was nothing to be grabbed. Thirteen wooden steps hit every place on my body as I tumbled my way to the bottom. My Mom was there in a flash, scared to death (though not especially surprised, since falling was kind of my thing.) and trying to get me to talk to her. I was attempting to catch my breath, do the mental once over body scan to see if I had damaged anything vital, and also locate my loafers which had flown off during the fall. I could hear myself sobbing so I knew I was breathing and though everything hurt, nothing hurt especially more than anything else, so I assumed nothing was broken. My face had skidded across the floor and I had a significant rug burn on my nose and cheek, but I was going to survive.

My outfit wasn’t as lucky. My tights were ripped, my skirt was dirty, and my shirt was now wet with tears and snot from all of the sobbing, and blood from me wiping my scraped up face on my sleeve. The bus was heading towards our house and though alive, I was in no condition to head off to school. My heart was broken! My mom sent my sisters out the door and helped me get cleaned up and changed into something comfortable. She wanted to keep me home to make sure I didn’t have a concussion and I wanted to stay home because the disappointment of my destroyed fashion statement was too much to bear.

I never wore the outfit again. I wore each part of the outfit separately, and wore those red penny loafers until my feet absolutely could not fit in them for one more second, but my red-shoes-on-black-canvas statement was never made. Thus, I never made it to the top of the social pyramid and had to settle for being in the middle. My face healed without a scar, but twenty-four years later my soul is still a little wounded!

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