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Jean Shriver

My mother’s bureau drawers were works of art. They held silk slips and panties carefully ironed and folded in a way that showed off the lace.  

When she visited, inevitably, she’d dive into my messy drawers and try to make order out of chaos. This both annoyed and embarrassed me.

“Why bother?,” I’d ask in a snappish tone. My underwear and nighties were washed regularly, then bundled up and shoved into a drawer any old which way. I couldn’t see the point of taking time to show them off.

Being, a gentle soul my mother didn’t argue. And I didn’t point out that she’d always had someone to do that ironing and folding for her. 

My mother has been gone for more than thirty years and my bureau drawers are still a mess.

But I don’t have much to do in this quarantine time. When I opened my scarf drawer, it looked as if a painter had tipped over jars of brilliant hues onto silk squares, or as if Vesuvius had spewed purple and red lava over a green landscape. What's more I couldn’t find the paisley scarf I needed to go with my outfit.

Sighing, I took all the silky scarves out and laid them on my bed.

Here's the enormous black and white one I’ve never worn. It was a gift from Presbyterian South Koreans in Seoul when I traveled there as part of the board of a Presbyterian seminary. A big Korean church inexplicably paid for our trip, our five-star hotel, our meals and then gifted us with scarves big enough to wrap our suitcases in.

Next to it was a small, crumpled scarf in white, yellow and red featuring puppies. I had purchased it for fifty cents in Tian Am Square in Beijing. That one is worth ironing as I wear it quite a bit. My mother’s flowered scarf from Liberty of London still retains a faint scent of Arpege perfume.

There are two hand dyed scarves I bought from an artist friend. And here's a lovely scarf with green leaves and purple Iris on a white background I bought from its creator Gemma del Rio at our annual Arty Party. Next to it lies a narrow scarf in a bright blue with gold lettering, a souvenir from the Los Angeles Yacht Club.

A thoughtful grandson who is a tattoo artist gave me a lovely scarf, really a stole, created by a famous tattoo artist which he bought at a San Francisco Museum. Wish I could wear it as regally as it deserves.

And what’s this little booklet? 

Ah yes, it’s on scarf tying, an art I’ve never really mastered.

A trip on the Queen Mary from New York to England was so boring that I was reduced to attending classes on how to tie a scarf.

Five days of watching the woman yammer on and still I’m no good at it. They slip off my shoulders and fall in an ungainly heap on the floor. If I knot them to fill in the neck of a suit, they pull to one side exposing my scrawny neck. 

So now I’ll iron my rainbow-colored pile, fold them carefully and put them back in the drawer. 

They will look just so for a while. 

Wish I could call my mother to come see them, because soon enough they’ll be in an untidy pile again. 

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