October has been designated as United Nations month to the dismay of cash-strapped parents throughout the country. What used to be a thoroughly enlightening and character-forming event has now been reduced to expensive fashion shows that kids have to join to get good grades.
Merchants who can smell opportunity miles away have gotten a whiff of this potentially lucrative event and now sell a myriad collection of international traditional clothes. My own search led me to a rack at a local store with the following list of nations: Korea, Argentina, India, Mexico, Hawaii and Aladdin. I had no idea a new nation was recently born and named after a petty thief at that.
My troubles would have come to an end if I had volunteered my daughter to represent Aladdin but alas, she had to be Ms. Panama. None of the stores in the city carried Panama’s national dress so I ended up walking 1.5 km of a street dotted with seamstresses, showing each some dress pictures printed from the internet, as if I was looking for long lost cousins in the wrong side of the world. None of them would accept the complicated design for a pittance. They all said it was so difficult to sew that they’d only accept the task if I paid them my kid’s inheritance.
I finally found a seamstress who agreed to sew the dress for less than a fortune but I had to do the materials shopping. I came back a few hours later with 3 meters of satin. The seamstress looked at me as if to ask, “How could you do this to your own daughter?”
Apparently, satin would make her look more like a little bride, the bride of Chuckie perhaps, rather than a lady from Panama. I wanted to explain to the seamstress that I was born with a shortage of estrogen and couldn’t tell satin from cotton, wool or toilet paper but Britney Spears started singing in my head, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman. All along I knew, I’m really half a man…” So I kept my mouth shut.
After three more hours of leg work and distress, I finally settled on 300 pesos worth of something, a.k.a. whatever. I next set out to visit my father-in-law to look for baubles to hang around Ms. Panama’s neck. He listened patiently to the story of the last few hours of my life and then he rolled his eyes and gestured to the windows. I blinked in disbelief. Fancy that, after all the stress and expense my pa had the perfect dress fabric hanging over his windows.
That settles it. Next year, my daughter will be wearing my pa’s curtains.
P.S. No disrespect is meant to Panama and the country’s national dress. The curtains are made of expensive lace that costs 290 pesos a meter. Of course, I do know Panama’s actual national dress isn’t made of lace but no one I’ve consulted knows what the fabric in the pictures really is.