Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Monahans are, by nature, cold people. Not frigid (although occasionally aloof), but actually, physically cold.

When I was younger, I mostly anticipated our weekly Wednesday night trips to Shoney’s – kids could eat free, and I would pile my chilled, metal salad bar plate high with reckless abandon. But there was a certain dread in knowing that once indoors, away from the humid summer air, the waitress would inevitably seat us near an air conditioning vent or a ceiling fan or the soft serve dispenser, and my dad would ask that we be moved.

While in hindsight it was a perfectly legitimate request – he was cold, and there were warmer spots available, the shame that came with getting up and walking across the restaurant to a new table was almost enough to keep me from enjoying my plate of ham cubes and syrupy strawberries.

Over the past decade, that constant chill my dad experienced has crept into my bones and skin and fingernails with a vengeance. But not only do I feel cold, I’m actually cold to the touch. I’m a pet iguana that likes to sleeps in the microwave. And just as my dad almost always had some sort of extra layer present – a jacket in July, two sweaters in September, I too have my armor. I am obsessively, hopelessly dependent on cardigans.

If I am not wearing one, there is one in my hand, or stuffed in my purse. There is likely one in my car, one on the back of my chair at work and numerous others in my closet at home. The beauty of the cardigan boils down to several factors – it is not a parka, so no one will look at you like they look at those people who wear parkas in the summertime; it is portable; it can enhance an outfit without dominating it; and, if sufficiently substantial, it keeps your arms and torso warm.

Through the years, I’ve accumulated an Imelda Marcos-caliber collection, but for every one or two cardigans I acquire, I’ll loose one. I can only hope that those fallen soldiers are out there somewhere, keeping an office worker warm or a chilly moviegoer comfortable enough to stay for the closing credits. Or even keeping a Shoney’s customer from embarrassing her progeny by moving to the smoking section, just to get away from a drafty window.

Cardigan Hall of Fame

Most angst-ridden: A little navy, wool number I picked up at the Dodge Street Salvation Army store when I was a freshman at Creighton. Its label was stitched with gold thread. I wore it with corduroys and t-shirts of grade school sports teams.

Most worn: A gray v-neck I bought from Forever 21 shortly after moving to Chicago. I know clothing from Forever 21 is supposed to turn to dust when it hits water, but this has been washed and worn more times than I can count. And I am wearing it right now.

Most missed: Kelly green with green buttons from Francesca’s Collection. I loved it, and yet I didn’t love it enough not to leave it in a cab.

All-time favorite: A royal blue, merino wool three-quarter sleeved sweater from J. Crew. It has a small ruffle around the neck. It fell behind the radiator at my mom’s house during my brother’s high school graduation party and went missing for a year. Getting it back was like being reunited with a lost dog, if the dog came back wearing my cardigan.

Most wanted: Something dark orange with pockets for snacks.


Chris Othic said...

The Cardigan Post. It basically says that you are not only a newlywed but also a grandma.

Catherine said...

It was only a matter of time.

Joe said...

I feel the onset as well, and it's a bit unnerving. It won't be long before I start wearing a hole-filled brown sweater that I cut the sleeves off of as I clean the bathrooms.

Katherine said...

There was a jesuit scholastic I used to work with at prep who, in the midst of his vow of poverty, had a distinct few stylish, pairs of shoes and perfectly hipster-worthy cardigans. One of my favorite cardigan origin stories that left me feeling hopelessly jealous was the acquiring of his perfect v-neck, navy, crested cardigan from the "dead jesuit closet." You heard me, the dead jesuit closet. It's a closet full of clothes that used to belong to jesuits who have passed away. New, young jesuits are allowed to sort through the closet and pick out whatever fits them. Thus, said jesuit wore the most awesome cardigan I've ever seen, if not to rub it in my face, as many a man had before him.


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