Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Call me Cordelia

This is Cordelia.

She is wearing pantaloons.

I cannot prove to you that she is wearing pantaloons for the following two reasons:
(1) It would be rude!
(2) If I showed you the pantaloons, you would catch on to Cordelia’s terrible secret; a secret I made solemn vows to Cordelia, my bosom friend, never to tell; a secret wild horses could not drag from me!

Eh, what the hell.

Cordelia is very badly crafted. Cordelia is a textbook example of shoddy workmanship. Cordelia is of poor quality.

She does have a rose-leaf complexion, starry violet eyes, and hair black as a raven’s wing, but that’s only because her little china face came from a factory. The rest of her was created entirely by yours truly, the most gammy-handed seamstress that ever had to google the term "dart" just to be sure. You might think creating something of such dazzling complexity would have made me heady with power, but in fact I feel mortality more keenly than ever because I know how horribly close Cordelia’s head is to falling right off onto the ground and rolling around much in the grotesque manner of Marie Antoinette's, post-guillotining. Cordelia: a symbol of death and the revolution! . . . in pantaloons.

No, she's pretty cute. But her infirmities are entertaining enough that I am unable to resist cataloguing them below. Apologies to Cordelia. Even the beautiful must suffer indignities. Just ask Marie.

Indignity number one: being packaged like this.

She didn’t have a chance, especially after I declined my grandmother’s kind offer to assemble her for me. I’m sorry, Cordelia: she would have made a delicate and proportional beauty out of you, and I butchered you like the Lennie of the sewing world. Now you will have all these sartorial complexes that your Shaker community will not know how to deal with except by reading you endless exerpts from Job. It's hard out there for a Shaker doll with a disreputable tailor.

Moving on: the torso.

If a real woman had Cordelia’s torso, she’d have to forego the use of several internal organs because they would not fit. On the other hand, if she were a real woman, the little paper with the quote on it that I sewed into her would be a serious and costly medical problem, so the issue of realism is something of a moot point. The really embarrassing thing for Cordelia, as a doll is this: she is not properly stuffed! There is extra filler between her torso and her bodice. Loose filler, so she would not look emaciated after I understuffed her torso. She’s afraid to play games in case it pops out in front of her competently-manufactured peers.

Thirdly, her limbs.

When I sewed them on they turned out crooked and are all different lengths, probably because I was laughing the entire time. Appendages!

Fourthly, the limb-torso combination. You may think this is kind of amusing:

I thought this was hysterical:

Then I sewed the arms on, and the chance for Cordelia to have any self respect pretty much ceased here. This is one demon zombie that will never bother Ash again.

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that Cordelia has freakishly muscular calves, so much so that I very nearly couldn’t turn the muslin back over them after gluing it on at the knees. This leads me to believe that, during her ten- or twelve-year stint lying unassembled in a small box in my closet, Cordelia managed to take up what else but Irish dancing.

Ironically, now that all of her parts are sewn together, I doubt she could even manage a round of golf (which is the opposite of any sport that requires being awake much less expending energy). And anyway if she moved enough even to putt a ball three inches, white stuff would bust out of her, so lethargy is really an asset supporting her new, assembled lifestyle.

Let us now turn to the dress. The bodice in a word: hell.

I had to make it twice because it did not occur to me the first time that I shouldn’t sew it closed because Cordelia’s cranium was three times the size of the neck of the dress. Oops. That mistake cost a solid ninety minutes.

The pleats in a (few choice) word(s): hell plus having your fingers repeatedly burned by the steam from a big clumsy iron of DEATH. No, MOLTEN DEATH.

The directions for the skirt specifically warn against cutting the fabric before reading the directions thoroughly. But you have to read the directions thoroughly to know that. Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men ARE THROTTLED BY THE LENNIE OF THE SEWING WORLD. I cut the skirt in half. Then had to sew it back together; then realized I had sewn the wrong ends together and the pleats were off; then ended up having to sew it onto the bodice backwards. Cornelia, still in pieces at that point, wept from her starry violet eyes.

The bonnet I didn’t even try. Having managed a pair of very fetching pantaloons with elastic, a five-part bodice with puffed sleeves (twice), a pleated skirt (ow), and a little ribbon-lined capelet that was so tiny and had so small a seam allowance at the neck that I was forced to repeatedly stab myself in the fingers to complete it – I felt that the bonnet, the darling little bonnet, was really quite beyond me. Victorious over pleats only to be undone by headgear. Actually, I just wanted to be done.

And I was.

But before I reveal the full and finished project in all her flawed, disproportionate, ill-stuffed, badly-ironed, unevenly-sewn, loose-seamed, bobble-headed glory, I would like to thank my loyal dog for her hard work.

Also for her bravery in saving me from the scary, scary thunder. Couldn’t have done it without you, Abbie.

And now, the moment you have all (mainly Ivan) been waiting for: the wearer of the infamous pantaloons: Cordelia!

She is the reason I am now hunchbacked, blind, and arthritic, but I've forgiven her because she looks awfully sweet sitting on a shelf, and also because, before this, I had never had legitimate reason to use the word "pantaloons" even once, and the lack, let me tell you, was sorely apparent.


Ivan said...

She's absolutely wonderful!

Katie P. said...

You really should put warnings at the top of your posts so that people don't read them in public places. I was sitting in a room at the convention center with about 10 other people, all of whom turned to stare at me when I just started laughing hysterically. Then I had to read them segments. Their response: "That's excellent narrative." Pretty hillarious given this is a CS conference.
So, thanks for the hillarity. I'm glad that Cordelia has pantaloons.

Cera C. said...

you dont know me. but i know her ^ and she made me read this. Which turned out to be quite funny. Congrats on Cordelia, congrats on the pantaloons. one should never pass up the chance to use the word 'pantaloons'

Simon said...

It is ever so comforting to me to know that even complete strangers can be brought together by a common belief of the importance of "pantaloons" to a healthy and happy lifestyle. Thanks for commenting, Cera C.! (And thanks for drumming up readers, Katie P.!)

Katie P. said...

I am dissapointed, however, that you did not notice our wonderfully rhyming names.

Simon said...

I did! I really did! But I didn't mention it because I thought I would be made fun of. Next time I won't make that foolish mistake.

Matthew said...

She really is quite marvelous in person (although still smaller than I imagined, making the stitching all the more impressive). See if you can work her into the *top-secret* Playmobil project. :P She'd make an excellent addition.

:: insert comment about pasta + sauce + "excellent narrative" ::

Becky said...

EVIL DEAAAAAAD. dead pantaloons (disregard the fact that they are inanimate, please!). also, good job!