You can sum up my entire winter wardrobe with three words: bag lady sweaters. Until this week, I never questioned my loyalty to the fashion concept because of a dream my friend had nigh unto 10 years ago.
I volunteered at the Mesa Temple Visitor’s Center for 18 months as a missionary. In Arizona, one quickly becomes accustomed to the 120° heat, and in comparison, the balmy 68° conditioned air inside feels nigh unto the part of the North Pole where even Santa must wear a full-body down suit.
Thus, every day regardless of the clothing worn underneath, I donned, what was dubbed, “the granny sweater,” a once-white, wool sweater that my mom handed down – which, judging by the style, was given to her by a homeless person. My brother once said that I was 23 going on 50. A statement applicable to my attire, but now that I think about it, he was probably referring to my 8:00PM bedtime.
Alas, another sister missionary dreamed vividly that a man nigh unto Brad Pit came into our humble Visitor’s Center. In the dream, I, Sister Oveson, was the lucky missionary who guided him on the tour and when completed, he announced our engagement. When the other missionaries asked, “How did you know Sister Oveson was the one?”
He said, “It was the granny sweater.”
Hey, if granny sweaters are good enough for men nigh unto Brad Pit, then they’re good enough for me.
Last week, my entire winter fashion paradigm unraveled.
Thinking that my son and I both had strep throat, I thought I’d kill two bacterei with one doc by visiting a Family Practice. But when no one could fit me in, I decided on a Walk-in Clinic. I threw on a large, brown, lint-ball adorned atrocity – one that when worn in the presence of my immediate and honest family members would undoubtedly result in someone saying, “that sweater makes you look terrible” – and headed to the doctor, sans make-up or anything that would have indicated my status of trophy wife.
The Walk-in Clinic seemed off. The too-kind doctor strolled out, said hello to us, and then told us it would be a minute. An obese man waited with us. He kept mumbling about vanity. He wore sweat pants. He had "walked-in" from the nearest bus stop. Another woman weighed 85.03 pounds, and looked like she had consumed altogether too much meth for that time of the morning. I don’t remember seeing her teeth. The office décor circa Leave it to Beaver.
It dawned on me. This particular Walk-in Clinic was a favorite of homeless people.
Trying to confirm my suspicions, I asked the woman at the front desk if I was in the right place. She eyed my bag lady sweater and said, “Yes.”
“No, I mean, do people who come here have insurance?” I said.
“Some do and some don’t,” she said.
I said, “No, I mean, what type of people come here?”
“People who need our assistance.” She looked at my sweater again. “I assure you, you are in the right place.” Then she added, “We will help you. Just sit down. Everything will be all right.”
The office did not have the capability to do a quick strep test. The doctor said, “We need to get your son to a pediatrician.”
“He has a pediatrician. But I thought we could just kill two birds with one stone,” I said.
“I can refer you to a pediatrician. Is that what you need, a referral?”
“He has a pediatrician,” I said.
“Yes, we can help you get a pediatrician,” he said.
On the way home (don’t freak out, I use a blue-tooth), I called my husband. He said, “It serves you right for wearing that sweater. Of course they thought you were homeless . . . and crazy.”
Although my husband is nigh unto Brad Pit, even he couldn't form the words, “How could anyone mistake you for a crazy bag lady in that beautiful granny sweater?”
Why is it that some of us have a penchant for things that are so bad for us? Chocolate, eight hours straight of BBC dramas, bag lady sweaters? I’m not sure. But I’ll share with you the uncommon insight I gained from the experience: if you’re going to wear a granny sweater, you have to come to grips with the fact that you’re going to look nigh unto a bag lady.