Women spend almost as much time wearing clothes as they do thinking about them. As a matter of fact, they will sit for hours in dormitory smokers leafing through Vogue, Mademoiselle, the Crimson, Harper's Bazaar.
In the end of course, they haul their laundry bags out of their closets and pick out the least grubby shirt, a pair of argyles that were too big for the man for whom they were intended, a skirt salvaged from a bundle for Britain, and the charred remains of little brother's tennis and furnace-stoking shoes.
But in the springtime, a girl likes to turn fancy.
Off comes the hair, on go the brand new chartreuse angora sweater, the simulated stickleback hiking and gavotte slippers, the rhinestone and jezebal belt buckle depicting scenes from the War of Jenkins' Ear. Then, with one gesture, she dissipates last scrapings from her depleted cache and purchases a grosgrain plastic imitation-borzoi hip-strap pocketbook, to carry money in.
But let us turn aside for a moment from the tedious, workaday aspects of haute couture.
Is it madness that impels this annual, almost manical, frenzy of buying? Or is it perchance a more basic drive, one of those bewildering instincts so closely attuned to the very innermost workings of nature herself?
Here, then, let us look to the facts:
As the limpid moon ascends majestically to her zenith, to the wistful baying of the tethered hound; as the last stately ice floe drifts sedately between the burgeoning shores of the historic Charles, then indeed is the voice of the turtle heard in the land.
And her plaintive cry falls not on deaf ears. Of a sudden, there is a subtle, barely perceptible murmur in the town--a faint rustling, and in the distance, the monotonous scrape-scrape of steel wool on long forgotten hope chests.
Soon, as the first robin raises Santo Domingo on the gladsome return to northern climes, the lichened Gothic structures that line the still leafless boulevards shed their study oaken shutters, much as a yearling copperhead sheds its skin.
The thrifty townsfolk are quick to keep pace with the changing season. Even as the first buds peep from the ashen skin of the lofty Ginkgoes, so too do hints of color invade the once-barren display cases of the tiny shops and marts. Bright-hued apparel and shiny trinklets bedeck the shelves and counters. A holocaust impends, but all is yet serene waiting, waiting.
Now, almost imperceptibly, the merchants' movements assume a nervous, nearly furtive air. They start at the slightest sound--the clank of hoof on manhole, the raccous grate of a newly varnished sash, the quick scratch of a mongoose at a loose floorboard.
And then, without warning, it is upon them--hour after hour, wave after wave, until the blood pounds in their ears and they totter on limbs long unaccustomed to such arduous travail.
Hold! There is a break! Then, as suddenly, as mysteriously as it came, it is over. A strange silence engulfs the city, broken only by the infrequent whimpering of a shattered milliner. Peace descends, the western sky assumes the soft reds and blues of a New England sunset, and the first calm note of the angelus rings out over the countryside. Lights are beginning to flicker and glow in dormer windows. Let us take our leave now, softly, quietly. . .