The Problem of Pockets

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Something funny happened the first time my family spent a week at the now infamous home of Jim Bakker, Heritage Village USA. Since I am not a Christian and had to work anyway, I spent the week as a bachelor. Well, not exactly a bachelor, more a bachelorette. I hate that word, it is as awkward as some of the supposed "sexual-bias-free" creations that grace the media these days, and I have a whole new understanding of those libbers who object to those sexist terms. Be that as it may, let's just leave it that Ricky had run of the house for a full week, something that doesn't happen very often.

Of course I spent a good deal of time doing things like reading, washing clothes and dishes, poking away on my computer, sewing, and other more serene and ladylike pursuits, but there comes a time when all the work that needs to be done in an old house like ours can't be ignored any longer. I have been threatening to actually clean up the basement for years, and had been conveniently forgetting the wallpaper for my daughter's bedroom so long that I have forgotten how long I have forgotten it. In other words, it was time for less than ladylike activities, but I didn't want to quit being a lady. So I put on T-shirt over one of my more utilitarian bras, designated one of the oldest skirts as my "work skirt", and knowing full well how silly it was I put on an old pair of pantyhose anyway and adjourned to the basement with the broom, dustpan, and several garbage cans.

It did not take me long to raise a prodigious cloud of dust, so I reached for my handkerchief. Or to put it more precisely, I reached for the pocket that should have held the handkerchief, and I had a revelation: women's clothes do not normally have pockets. I had not noticed this previously, as my dressing was confined to motel rooms or a few hours on a Sunday morning when the family was at church. In that confined area, and when engrossed in such ladylike tasks as writing letters, I had never noticed the lack of pockets. As I ran upstairs for the handkerchief and other small items I usually carry in my pocket, I realized that if women's lib is ever to succeed, someone is going to have to invent a practical pocket for a woman's skirt.

Let's look at the options. The first and most obvious is to abandon the skirt and put on a pair of pants. Practical yes, but who said fashion is practical. Let us assume that the person wearing the skirt or dress is wearing it for a good reason like being a TV, or whirling around a dance floor in an evening gown or working in an office where the successful woman must wear a skirt. Pants will just not do in these situations.

I hear a rousing chorus of "What's the problem, she has a pocketbook?" from the great multitudes reading this treatise. But while a pocketbook (aptly named, what?) may be practical when a lady is out shopping or on the town, it is a bloody pain to tote around the house and the strap gets caught in the broom handle. I know I can't keep track of the fork I just set down at the dinner table, let alone which room I left my handbag in. To be useful a pocket must be attached to you, so you don't have to keep track of it. So much for that idea.

Then there is what the girls of my youth referred to as the 'womanly'. For those of you that didn't grow up in my part of the world, a womanly is the area more generally known a the cleavage. It was a familiar game of my youth for a girl who liked you to drop some object into her womanly and offer to allow you to retrieve it if you had the nerve. This was invariably done in front of a large group of people and I fail to remember a single instance of the object being removed by anyone other than the owner of that particular womanly.

Leaving the memories of my teenage years behind, there is still some possibility that this anatomical attribute of womankind could be made to substitute for the male pocket. There are some obvious drawbacks, of course. Low cut garments would leave the wearer looking like a portable collection of the odds-and-ends found in your night table drawer, while a turtleneck sweater would make access difficult and embarrassing. This, of course, would not apply to a nursing mother, who has learned how to get in there without anyone but her baby seeing her breast, but for a TV it is a skill that would be just too revealing. Besides, while Dolly Parton might have no problem, someone built like Twiggy would be unable to carry more than a spare pair of earrings. Let's try something else.

So what about an actual pocket in the skirt?. The main objection to that is, unless you are down in the basement helping me and don't have an audience, a full pocket will ruin the flowing lines the skirt was meant to show. No one gives a hoot if a man walks around with lumpy pockets, but let a woman look like one hip is malformed and everyone will notice. I will refrain from commenting on the remarks a front or rear facing pocket would inspire. Scratch this option too.

Maybe we could steal the sporran from some Scotsman's kilt, after all many ladies have stolen the idea of the kilt before this. I am not sure of the etiquette of this situation, however. I know that the kilt requires a lack of underclothing to be worn properly, but does this extend to the sporran as well? I could not get a straight answer out of my Scots friends, they were too busy laughing. If the prohibition were to apply, a woman wearing garters, stockings and no undies (pantyhose would come too close to underwear for use here) beneath her skirt could create the wrong impression in the coarser of male minds, and TV would literally run the risk of exposure. Sorry 'bout that - I couldn't help myself.

So I guess I must leave the question unresolved. If you have any good ideas, let me know.

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