Rae's son was being honored with other students at a dinner. I can't remember where it was, but Rae had purchased a new pant suit for the occasion. This was not just an end of the year pot luck banquet but a dinner at some banquet hall in Columbus.
Rae came to me in a panic when the woman who usually altered her clothing became ill and could not hem her pants and 'take in' the suit jacket. The dinner was that night, she had said to me...that would be plenty of time to make a few alterations...right? Maybe she thought I had spent hours watching my mother sew and had somehow through osmosis knew how to 'make a few changes'...and anyway...she had called a few others and I was her last hope.
I knew I was in dangerous territory when I heard the words, "Okay, I guess I can try," come out of my mouth. But her transformation from pathetic pleading to joyous relief gave me that false sense of confidence that leads to disaster.
This was in the late 70s...so polyester was the fabric of choice. A flash of my mother bemoaning the invention of polyester and never going to sew with it again crossed my mind but I dismissed it. I had a job to do and I had no clue where to begin.
I finally had Rae try on the suit so I could measure how much altering needed to be done...three inches on the pants and two on the sleeves...the rest looked 'okay'. Progress was slow...too slow...and what would have taken Mother an hour to do was taking me all afternoon...and it looked horrible. I called my mother and she said in a time crunch I could use some sort of sewing tape. I only heard the word 'tape' and had the solution. I ripped out the crooked seams and began again,
No time to go out to buy fabric tape...but tape is tape and I had a whole roll of carpet tape. If it can hold down a carpet, it should be able to hold a hem...at least for an evening. Within an hour I was finished, Rae donned my new creation and left for the banquet hall.
Later that evening, Rae appeared at the door. I did not have to ask how the banquet went...her face expressed what I feared to hear. Stepping through the door I noticed a piece of carpet tape trailing from her pant leg. She reminded me of Red Skelton's Clem Kadiddlehopper character...or was it Freddie the Freeloader Hobo...whatever...I had to stifle a laugh because of the distress on her face.
"Oh, Jackie, it was terrible," she said. "Things were okay until one of the city councilmen asked me to pass the butter...and my sleeve popped out with the tape landing in the butter dish." I was swallowing hard...this was not the time to laugh...which I tend to do at what some may think inappropriate times. She just looked so bedraggled.
"The worst part was walking with Kevin to receive his award and the tape broke free from the pants. I tripped over the hem and heard a rip. A man stepped on the tape and got it stuck on his shoe and the tape kept pulling out of my pants leg. Kevin caught me before I fell, but got tape from the sleeve stuck on his hands. It was all I could do to find a graceful way to leave the party early!"
Fortunately, Rae finds humor in this now...and that is one banquet she will never forget. But I wonder....what would have happened if I had used duct tape?
Rae dressed a bit spiffier at her grandson's graduation.