Just Between Friends

August 2, 1896
Margaret Spooner

“Do you remember the last time your mother spanked you in a store?” Katie asked.

Katie and I have been friends ever since her family arrived. She was all of 6 at the time and I was 7. Our parents never looked favorably on our friendship and most likely that is precisely why it lasted. For years whenever I was being lectured for my latest misdeed it seemed her name was inevitably brought up as the whole incident being caused by her bad influence on me. Likewise her parents often said the same about me to her.

We were in town doing a small bit of shopping. For me it was a few necessities before returning to school later this month and for Katie it was a great excuse to get away from her mother for a few hours.

“I think I was 12 maybe 13. Why?” I replied.

I fought back a slight blush as I recalled the nearly decade old incident. It had been embarrassing at the time and even with all the years having passed since, the mere thought of the memory was still enough to cause me to squirm. I do not even recall what it was that I had done to deserve the punishment but the shame of it remains.

“My mother was just threatening such a childish punishment last week. I know your mother has done that more recently than mine but I was fairly certain it was a long, long time ago.” Katie said.

I had stopped and was looking at some rather sensible culottes. I have noticed a tendency for a lot of young women to wear such things and they are indeed very convenient for riding and then looking presentable once arriving some place. My parents were completely against them last year but surely the swing in fashion has swayed their old fashioned opinions by now.

“I wouldn’t put it past either of our mothers to this day. Despite them swearing they have nothing in common, neither of them have any concept of bluffing.” I replied.

I noticed they had improved the folds. You could hardly tell at first look that the culottes was not an ordinary skirt. Perhaps if I buy them, my parents will not even notice.

“I think at my age, it is likely some shopkeepers are likely to come to my aid if mother attempted a public display of disciplining me.” Katie said.

I noticed an older woman hovering around near us. She could not have been more obvious about listening in on our conversation, but if she had an opinion to share, she was keeping it to herself. I decided it was time to move on to more traditions skirts before I grew too tempted to tempt my own fate for the afternoon.

“I am certain plenty of shopkeepers would have comments for your mother, but I don’t think you would approve of them.” I giggled a little at the thought.

“You’re probably right. People around here seem not to notice I’m a grown woman. Aren’t you going to get some of those?”

“No, even if I could convince my mother of their practicality and acceptability, I could never convince my father. If Ben would actually set a wedding date, then you might be treated differently, but until then you are just a girl in your parents’ care.”

“He promises it will be soon. He is working toward a promotion and when he gets it he feels he will be able to provide adequately for us. Since when do you care what your parents think in regard to your clothing?”

“I’ve always cared, I’m just a little more cautious about doing things which will upset them these days. Ben has been saying soon for two years now. I honestly do not understand why your father allows him to continue to put it off.”

“You know he is about the best sort I could ever pull with my family background.”

“I don’t believe that and neither should you. I am certain you can pull a man who would at least go through with the wedding after the proposal.”

“I don’t like it when you insult my fiancé. You put me in an awkward position.”

“Your awkward position has nothing to do with me.” I replied.

Katie glared at me for a moment, but then busied herself looking at the nearby blouses. Her cheeks were flushed slightly but I knew better than to assume she was embarrassed. She was getting upset with me, but sometimes that is what friends must do to help their friends.

I picked out three fabrics for a traditional skirt and called over a salesman. A few minutes later I was measured and ready to leave with a ticket to pick them up next week. Katie looked depressed as we left the store.

“I apologize if you feel I was out of line in regards to Ben. It is just not acceptable how long he has made you wait. My father would never allow a suitor to be that rude to me or any of my sisters and if one of my brothers tried something like that, he would disown them.”

“I know. It has been a common discussion lately is all. I find it frustrating because Ben has even stopped replying to my letters for the last four months. I am afraid he has decided to back out.”
“Even if he has not, he given you plenty of reason to.”

“I cannot see as I have any choice but to continue waiting.”

“There are always choices. Family connections are not of the importance they once were, you might be surprised of the men who would be interested in you if you went away to college.”

“My parents can barely afford me living with them, how can I ask them to send me to college?”

“Maybe it would be worth discussing with them. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I hate to see you wasting your youth waiting for a man who will never be one.”

“Please, don’t.”

“All right. Let’s talk about something else then.”

“Yes, tell me all about this boy you met at school.” She said.

We walked back toward home as I told her all about the man now in my life. She was breathless for every detail, especially our time on the beach together. I made a point of the fact he knew nothing of my family when he began courting me. I conveniently left out the part about him spanking me but it did cross my mind that she might be interested to know about that too. I am still not quite certain how to explain my feeling about that though. No doubt, Katie would call me crazy.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, ok I'm hanging on here.
Warm hugs,