Friday, June 25, 2010

Must Be the Season of the Stitch

Every summer at about this time the Moore clan (all 20 of us) gather for a family vacation, usually at a beach resort of some sort. This year we are staying at Anna Maria Island - which we Floridians used to pronounce Anna Mar-EYE-a Island back in the 1960s, before someone came along and made us get our Spanish pronunciations right.

An unanticipated surprise was a visit by cousin John Moore and his wife Norma who live on the east coast near Fort Lauderdale. Sister Betsy had been in contact with Norma via email since they ran into each other on some obscure branch of the Moore family tree which they had both been following on

This was a fun surprise since we had not seen John since he was about 16 and had never met Norma at all. We didn’t even know how they met and came to get married. All we really knew about John was that he went to West Point. This, it turns out did not shape him into a rigid, gung-ho army professional, but it was relevant to the way he and Norma met.

The story, as told to us by Norma goes like this: “I attended Ladycliff , a Catholic girls' school right outside West Point's main gate. It was a small liberal arts college with five hundred Catholic girls, forty-four nuns, and one Jewish kid. It was not the school I hoped to attend, but it did meet my father's criteria. The doors were locked each night precisely at eleven pm, and the only men around had haircuts and curfews. In the early 70's it was a Sicilian father's dream. [Norma had mentioned in our “family tree” discussions that her father was Sicilian.]

“I was dating John's roommate George. He was a Latino with a bit of an edge which I found attractive. John, I thought, was a stuffed shirt, boring and judgmental-- a real Dudley Doright. John described me as a "bubble head" so it's understandable why we didn't mesh right away. George would later get kicked out of the Academy, but that's a story for another day.

“Anyway, George and John thought it would be a good idea to send their laundry over for me to do. I don't remember why. Maybe they missed laundry pick up that week. I was mildly peeved at the presumption, as were my friends, who arrived in my room that night with sewing baskets in hand. I think we sang a chorus or two of “I Am Woman” as we methodically sewed closed every neck, arm, and leg opening in every garment, including socks and undershorts. We got the flies too. Elaine, who was particularly skilled with a needle, embroidered a pink Navy goat on the front of George's gym shorts and "Remember Me" in day glow orange on the fly of John's tightie whities.

“In hindsight, it may have been better to just stitch up the flies. Having the legs and arms sewn shut alerted them to the joke and prompted them to check the fly before they actually needed to use it. I so wish I could have been there to hear John explain the embroidered underwear to his mom.”

This as much of the story as Norma told us, and I don’t yet have John’s side. However, I can only say I absolutely understand the fascination a woman of such imagination and flair could have for a cadet living in the confines of West Point, or for any guy with an appreciation for the basics of life, for that matter. Anyway, the immediate result was a courtship that produced a warm and simpatico couple, and one with an off-beat potential that is surprisingly reminiscent of some of the nuttiness that occasionally makes itself felt on our side of the Moore clan. I hope we see John and Norma again before too long, not only because of their enjoyable companionship, but because they could provide new material for our NTB award (see previous blog) and might thereby screen me from potential embarrassment (not that I really need to worry about that given my scrupulous ways and highly dignified demeanor).