Pictures found on the packages displayed elegant shots of legs encased in the close-fitting material.
My own tights puddled around my ankles. Wrinkles ruptured the white stretch of fabric across my calves. Runs cut over my knees.
My mother was a professional at balling up the nylon fabric in her hands. She slipped in her foot and the material would smoothly adhere to her leg like a second layer of skin.
My 5-year-old brow furrowed as I quizzically watched the act.
“Okay, Delaney, you try it now,” my mother prompted.
Frazzled eyes turned back to my own nylons which looked like a deflated elephant’s trunk.
“I can’t do it,” I responded, hoping to trigger her pity. Maybe she would take over the task.
Sheryl Walker was not so easily fooled.
“Sis, pull in the material with your fingers like I showed you,” she said. “You can do it.”
She was mostly right. I could do it — as long as wrinkles, runs and loose material around my feet counted.
This, I subconsciously thought, is what it must mean to be a woman. Being able to handle something as mind-boggling and thoroughly frustrating as nylons — without runs or wrinkles.
At 20-something years, I am now a woman. And yet, contrary to my girlhood thoughts, I have not mastered the art of proper tights technique. At least, not nearly so elegantly as my mother.
So, I can infer, based on my previous ruminations, either I am not yet a woman, or being a woman has nothing to do with tights.
How can this be so?
To believe the former is preposterous, to accept the latter unthinkable. My whole childlike concept of womanhood would be a farce. I’ve already lost Santa Claus, the ability to place my foot behind my head and an inexhaustible energy source.
Age and maturity have already taken too much. They cannot have this, too. They cannot debase my logical childhood conclusions to whimsical fancies. I will not stand for it.
Although, to sit and ponder the dilemma is not thoroughly detestable.
I am a woman, and yet my tights are mildly twisted. So maybe I am 85 percent a woman and 15 percent a girl. Except, no one seems to card me anymore when I go to the movies. It must be apparent I am over the age of 18 — and quite a few years removed, too.
Well, let’s just suppose then being a woman has little to do with tights. Maybe it is about scarves, dresses, slips or fancy hats. Am I on the wrong track?
Suppose it is in the way she carries herself. Or, the emotion packed in her words. Maybe it is her kindness when she holds the door open or the warmth in her greetings.
When did this question become so gosh-darn-it confusing? I have half a mind to pick up my former thoughts on what makes a woman. Yes, I will pick those tights up off the ground and continue through life without another thought to this ridiculous question.
... Except, I am a 20-something-year-old and not altogether great with tights — and I happen to be a woman too, ill nylon skills and all.
Growing older is inevitable for anyone blessed with life. We all stumble into infancy, the toddler years and childhood. We slip and slide through the turbulent teens full of puberty, pimples and mood swings to land ungracefully at the base of young adulthood. Then — BAM!
All the sudden girlhood becomes a collection of memories as society and slight crow feet wrinkles proclaim you a woman, with promises of maternal bliss, feminine rights and hot flashes.
Being able to successfully manipulate something like nylons probably comes with those advanced motor skills — which many women do seem to possess. Could it be I am really asking what it means to be a woman?
Perhaps. In which case, I do not even have whimsical fancies of childhood to help me out.
Thankfully, I do have my mother, who has been a Woman for ... well, let’s just say she has had time to refine the art.
My mother views being a woman through the lens of her daily experiences as a wife, mother and friend.
As a woman, she has had the “awesome responsibility” of raising my rascally brothers and me. She has done her best to “imprint on [us] the Godly values [she] holds so dear” in hopes they will guide us through life. She strives to be there for her family, including being a helpmate to her “precious” husband.
She is good at all of those things, plus a couple hundred more. We trust her, respect her and love her. She is a Wo(ah-)man.
I guess the capital W is something to be achieved even after society and age dub you a lowercase woman. It is rising to life’s challenges, taking on responsibilities, growing beyond those initial girlhood fancies and — well, to be honest, I have not figured out the rest.
To be honest, my twisted tights and I are just fine with that.