Thursday before last I bought a new cardigan. It’s cherry red with a little black fleck through the wool. If it were a plant, you might call it variegated. But I’m calling it Cherry Ribbon. It has tiny diamond cut black buttons and a wide gathered ribbon around the V neckline. I bought it from that shop with a lady’s name that has an E at the end.
I simply had to buy it.
Last night I wore the cardigan for the first time. That’s one week and two days after the initial purchase. In between I have operated according to my standard, how-to-roll-a-new-cardigan procedure of which I thought the world might benefit from hearing.
Firstly, I must point out that to a librarian a cardigan is a most important accesory. I mean with contact lenses and permanent rinses, the profession has been in danger of blending with the general population. A tendency towards cardigans may be our sole distinguishing feature in the twenty first century.
Secondly, I would like to say that I work part time and write the rest of the time and, quite frankly, I should be shopping at Dimmeys. But when it comes to cardigans, the queen of all garments, I sometimes lash out no matter how badly the price tag reads.
That’s the way it was with Cherry Ribbon and me.
Anyway, back to the roll out. It’s a four step process and you must follow it exactly, or it won’t work. It’s like one of those post-cards-from-all-over-the-world, chain letter things.
Step one: throw out an old cardigan. Now I know that sounds harsh. But even a librarian can have too many cardigans. Fuschia Pink simply had to go. I bought her nine years ago. She no longer did up at the front. Well, she did at a pinch,but the effect wasn’t flattering.
She is now at the Op-shop, readjusting.
Step two: talk nicely to last year’s best cardigan. In this case, Tealy Ruff. Tell her how much you’ve appreciated her contribution to your sleek professional appearance. But now you’ve found a new cardigan, things have changed, she will no longer be your best cardigan anymore.
I advise, a strict, no nonsense tone. Cardigan’s on the way down have a tendency to whine. Tell her the news is not all bad. That a second-best cardigan gets worn more than a best cardigan. Tell her you’ll still be friends, that there will be a new freedom to your relationship.
Step three: wait
Now, I expect this step is a surpises. You imagined, having made such a signifcant purchase, I would leap out of bed Friday morning and don Cherry Ribbon immediately.
But that isn’t how the program works.
You must wear your newly demoted second-best cardigan the morning after purchase. It sets the tone, demonstrates the benefits of her new role, and proves what you said about freedom and friendship.
Don’t for a minute think I didn’t consider Cherry Ribbon that first Friday morning. Taking her out, standing, head to one side, smiling at my good fortune. I did. But you can’t wear a new cardigan the morning after purchase.
You have to wait.
It’s one of those law-of-the-universe things.
Then you have to wait, and wait some more – until you’ve almost forgotten you have a new cardigan.
So that one day you step from the shower all fresh and steamy, wipe your feet on the bath-mat, towel your hair, walk still dripping from the bathroom, and fling wide the wardrobe door, and think: What shall I wear today?
You scan scan the hangers, going from black, to green, to blue, then purple, pink and red (yes, it’s important to colour code your wardrobe), then your eyes alight upon it and realisation floods you anew, and you think, yes, this is it. I will wear my new cardigan.
Step four: You pull it gently from its hanger and lay it on the bed. You pick out the skirt that’ll match it best, the stockings and the shoes. Apply make-up and blow dry you hair, never rushing, though your heart pounds and anticipation flooda your senses.
Then, when all is in place, you don your new cardigan – and the moment is deeply satisfying.