Monday, April 30, 2007

The Sisterhood of the Tag Tuckers

If you harken back to the early nineties -- think Kriss Kross or TLC -- it was cool to let your clothing tags show. Those days are gone, and in the new millennium it's nobody's business if I hand wash or dry clean. Call me a perfectionist, but an exposed tag at the back of my shirt is as unsightly as my bra strap showing, a run in my stockings or a hanging slip. Tags are like belly buttons: an inny is better than an outty.

The problem is no matter how well put together you strive to be, a tag is easy to miss. You can't see or feel when it pops out, and even if you do you may not have the flexibility to reach it. I know I’m not the only one who’s pulled a muscle or two trying.

Thankfully there’s The Sisterhood of the Tag Tuckers. Our motto (like post 9/11 NYC Mass Transit) is "If you see something, say something." Whether I know a woman or not, if I see a tag sticking out of her shirt, I feel compelled to tuck it in. With a gentle touch on the shoulder and a whisper for her ears only, "Hey, your tag is out." I tuck it in, and score another victory for The Sisterhood.

If there’s a Sisterhood, is there a corresponding Brotherhood? Not exactly. Men don't really notice these things. And the ones who do tend to be very domesticated. A human male in captivity will only notice the tag of the woman who has claimed him. It’s safer for him that way. Noticing another woman’s tag means he may have been looking at her at little too closely. That's going to lead to an argument. It’s best he just notice his own woman's tag status.

And so in The Sisterhood we women rely on each other and are grateful for the tuck. I always get the knowing nod and smile that says, "Good looking out, thanks for having my back." Conversely, if another woman sees but doesn’t tuck, does it mean she’s not part of the Sisterhood? Not necessarily. It’s more likely that she just doesn't know. Tag tucking is not nature, it's nurture. The lessons of The Sisterhood, like anything else, begin at home.

My Mom taught me that a lady always wears the proper foundation garments: bra, camisole, slip, and nylons; control top if you need it. Growing up she used to have me stand in front of the window or the front door, and used the daylight to determine my outfit's opacity. If it was sheer enough to see through she'd say, "Go put on a slip, I can see your breakfast."

It took me years to realize that she didn’t mean that passers by could actually see my morning Fruit Loops. She meant that at a glance someone should see my outfit, not what’s under it. A lady must leave something to the imagination. But not everyone got this lesson. Every Summer I see women in beautiful dresses, and at the right angle -- with the sunlight streaming through -- everything from the continental to the full buffet is on display.

Although sometimes I’d like to, I don’t carry extra slips in my already too heavy handbag. Because my Mom I carry safety pins to secure an errant bra strap, nail polish to stop a run in my nylons, and a file to fix a ragged nail.

But you don’t have to be a walking convenience store to help a sister out. The simplest thing to do is each one, tuck one. I tuck your tag. You tuck some one else’s, and so on and so on. And thus, The Sisterhood grows. But if a stubborn tag just won’t stay put, a pair of scissors works wonders, too.

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