Every time I put on a trendy kimono, at first I feel amazing. I love a flowing, brightly-hued addition to an outfit and especially right before spring. But it doesn’t take long when I go about doing regular human things to realize what a hazard the kimono can be. I just caught my sleeve on the bathroom doorknob, for example, and almost spilled the coffee I had in one hand and the water I had in the other. I would have spilled them both had I not already been on kimono alert after catching myself on the front doorknob, the hook where we keep our car keys, and then pulling a knife from the counter into the sink with my extra fabric.
You’ll be saying, “Look, Ma, no hands,” until you literally have no hands (or burn them badly).
Maybe the reason you so often traditionally see kimono paired with those flat, wooden, platform sandals is because regular kimono wearers know the importance of having to move slowly when you carry sleeves that could take you down while going through your daily chores. The wooden slabs you strap to your feet would prevent quick movements and, in turn, your personal demise.
Last summer my sister and I bought matching kimono (yes plural is without the “s,” and I feel like kind of a jerk writing it like that) at a cute shop in New Jersey called South Moon Under. There are so many embarrassing things about this paragraph already I should just roll myself up and be done with it. But I’ll plod on for your (hopefully) amusement and because it could save your life. I convinced her she should have the black kimono with the embroidered flowers because it was perfectly in line with her vocation as a social worker — someone with that kind of wardrobe must have all the answers.
The ’60s vibe embodying the kimono my sister and I both purchased implored me to dress flowingly and then attempt my Joan Didion dreams of making lentil soup in style. But I implore you to take heed: Do not wear a kimono and then “put lentils to soak on Saturday night for lentil soup on Sunday” as Didion might have done. The soaking part is OK, if messy. But never, ever attempt to cook while wearing a kimono unless you are a seasoned kimono-wearer who comes from at least one generation of kimono-wearers who have learned the pitfalls of extra fabric in the kitchen and can handle themselves around flame and drapes.
Other things of which you should be careful while wearing a kimono (if you’re still convinced it’s a good idea, and you might, because they are so cute): eating at a restaurant, family-style, especially if there are candles on the table; reaching for anything, anywhere, anytime; drawing a bath; cleaning; moving quickly about your house, your life, the world.
Wide open spaces, however, are the perfect environment to wear your adorable kimono. Spread your wings and fly. Just do not, under any circumstances, wear those sleeves and fry.
Jenn Sutkowski celebrates Japan’s Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest person, who celebrated her 117th birthday on March 5, 2015. Okawa is the daughter of kimono makers and, hence, knows her way around a kimono.
This Full Frontal column was first published in the Newport Mercury.
In the spirit of the New Moon and in celebration of the Spring Equinox and an invocation of the Throwback Thursday, and a time where the veil is thin and even Spock has sloughed his mortal (half-alien) coil, I wish all of we gentle souls healing and love. May our inner children be happy, plump, and full of cheeseburgers (or kale, if you’re veg-style). May we call on the strength and wisdom of our forbears, the spirit of the bear, and anyone who’s ever been a teddybear. We can use all the fuzzy strength we can get, wocka wocka wocka, and so forth.
I was looking through my senior high school yearbook and came across this beautiful gem from my old friend Martin Bosworth, who was one of the smartest people I know:
Martin and I did not see each other a ton after high school — now and then we would run into each other around the Boston University campus and then would catch up on Facebook until he passed from a pulmonary embolism in February of 2010. But when we did connect I appreciated his sharp wit, huge heart, and his authenticity. He was one of the most unique people I’ve known — wearing these great black leather driving gloves in high school basically always. I remember him jumping up on a desk in our history class over a heated political discussion. I admired his passion.
My favorite memory of Martin, however, is from a school dance, when he plopped down on the floor at the end of Faith No More's "Epic," and flopped around like the fish gasping for air at the end of the music video. Everyone was so goddamn serious in the 90s and the levity he brought was palpable.
Martin’s authenticity and empathy taught me a great deal when I was a teenager and going through a rough time, feeling really shitty, trying to learn how to express myself and explore interests and my creativity without being crapped on too much. But we all know no matter what, if we put ourselves out there, we will likely eventually be shit on in some way. Someone always wants to take you down or won’t get you. It’s just something you have to deal with, and — as Martin so eloquently puts it in his yearbook entry to me (while quoting the Red Hot Chili Peppers) -- screw ‘em:
Bust my britches
Bless my soul
I’m a freak of nature
Walking totem pole
Look and see, I think you’ll agree
Nobody weird like me
Long since Flea and Anthony Kiedis’s underpants-antics stopped holding some cachet for me I still take Martin’s words to heart.
You did not live long enough but you did prosper, friend, in your richness of character, relationships, and individuality. I promise to keep that attitude alive. Nobody weird like me.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.