Who Stole Aprons? (with apologies to Christina Hoff Summers)

apron6It’s time to stand up for the kitchen apron! It got a bad rap in the 70’s as a potent symbol of female domestic slavery. To this I say: “Bah humbug!”  Outdated paradigms begone! Why should I deprive myself of this practical household accoutrement just to keep some ageing feminist from crying into her chai green tea latte? And hold on a minute…what slavery? Have we been churning butter, pumping water, and cooking on woodstoves lately? I ask you.

Some may say that the apron is an anachronism along the lines of Viking helmets, sleeve garters, and…oh, say…fanny packs, because a) nobody cooks anymore, and b) globalism and automatic washing machines have made clothing so cheap and carefree it’s disposable as kleenex, so why bother protecting it? This argument actually holds a little water, which is more than I can say for the gauzy, virtually transparent jersey tees I keep telling my daughters NOT to buy at Eternally Juvenile because you need to layer them in threes to meet even the most modest decency standards and they also tend to fall apart in the above-mentioned automatic washing machines.

apron1Yet I still argue in defense of aprons. They are worthy. They are useful. They are uniquely fitted for their purpose, they remind us of our grandmothers, and there is a certain rebellious pleasure to be had in kicking that dusty feminist trope to the curb and flaunting the humble apron as a badge of honor. Therefore. I hereby publicly declare a campaign to rehabilitate the image of this nifty lifestyle accessory, and in service of this campaign I have crafted some arguments not only rationally related to a legitimate household purpose, but also appealing–absolutely nothing I say carries the force of law (my children have drummed that into me!) so I know I’m relying on voluntary adoption here. Please give these arguments your thoughtful scrutiny.

So to wit, heretofore, and hereunder:

recycle1) Aprons are environmentally green. Think of all the electricity and water you’ll save by not having to change your clothes each time your toddler smears tempera paint all over your denim jeggings. Or spits up that syringe-full of neon pink amoxicillin all over your crisp white business shirt! Extra points if you use cold-water wash and hang them up on the clothesline to dry, which you can do if you live in a place where it is NOT RAINING ALL THE TIME. Like where I live. In Portland, Oregon.

car-keys-1024x7682) Aprons are practical. See above, in re baby vomit and tempera paint (in this regard, bib aprons score high). And let’s not forget pockets, so very practical and an absolute necessity for the busy houseperson. Where else are you going to keep your car keys, iPhone, loose chang033274-00e, toddler board books, #1 Phillips head screwdriver, gummi bears, Star Wars bandaids, and tuning fork? Not to mention your bottle opener, e-cigs, rosary or worry beads,post-it pads, plastic army men, paint sample cards, lost driver’s licenses, bizarrely-shaped lip gloss containers only a tween could love, AAA batteries, and  flashcards (multiplication, division, Yiddish)? Domestic engineers love pockets. My favorite apron is sold at my favorite local bakery, Keep Portland Tiered, by my favorite local baker, Chickie, whose mother lives in Alaska and has to have something to do during those long, dark winters. These are full-coverage bibs with major pocketry. No dainty little ruffle-edged patch here, but a capacious six-inch-deep repository along the entire hem sewn into two compartments, so you can divide and conquer: WET and DRY (lettuc6b2fb9ff97958fd3b55d7366f2c70ee8e leaf, bridge pencil). TRASH and OH MY GOD (gum wrapper, missing semi-precious gemstone earring from pair your husband gave you last Christmas). EDIBLE and NON-EDIBLE (I’m not going here. This is a land mine–we all have our own rules). And finally, the infamous BIG ENOUGH TO KEEP TRIPPING OVER if I do not pick it up right now and SMALL ENOUGH WE MIGHT FIND IT IN THE imgresBABY’S DIAPER  if I do not pick it up right now (Little Golden Guides, lego pieces). And it has a sewn-in dishtowel. I have four of these aprons: summer (watermelons), Christmas (tastefully subtle gingerbread man theme) and two for general rotation, so I am always au courant.  We domestic engineers do have fashion standards to maintain (see, infra, Section 4).

3) Aprons are gender neutral and a feminist statement–simultaneously! How cool is apron9that? Real women aren’t afraid to throw it into park at the curb and dash into Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt with their apron on to drop off some paperwork at the school office.

And think of the role modeling for your kids. Even if it was just that you forgot you had it on. Which it has been.

Also consider this. See those moms over there in the post-drop-off lobby huddle, those amazing young women of the Short Skirt Long Jacket type, who were raised on Belle and Mulan and Pocahontas and have no idea why ageing feminists are weeping into their triple skinny smoked butterscotch lattes? These latchkey alums are still young enough to be malleable and are ripe for conversion. Seize the opportunity. You’re a smart chiquita; you can figure it out. Here are a few suggestions: pull out your pocket-sized copy of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and innocently exclaim “Now where was I?” like, really LOUDLY, as you march past. Or: wander over and start a conversation about something really heady (the Mahabharata…the laws of thermodynamics…the Thirty Years’ War…sumpin’ like that). Then look down, innocently exclaim, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize I still had this on!” and sashay out the door. Now don’t get too cute or it might backfire and they won’t like you anymore and they’ll steal your favorite spot in the school parking lot. But if you do it right they just might start a rumor about how you’re a judge, just because you walked into school WITH AN APRON ON! And if you’re lucky, your best friend won’t squash it like a bug after, like, three minutes, by laughing like a hyena when she hears it.

apron45786914) Aprons are a fashion statement. This final argument has universal appeal. Talk about self-expression! Talk about flair! Color, pattern, political slogan, witty aphorism…the sky’s the limit. Transform your look with a flick of the wrist, just as easily as you switch out your scarves and tiaras. Aprons are the veritable definition of flash fashion.You don’t need to get undressed, which is great because I don’t know about you but those maternity jeggings are REALLY hard to peel off.

Now I know there’s a certain preoccupied, beleaguered percent of the population that is too tired to be fashionable; those who say, “If I have purse, keys and baby when I run out the door I’m ahead of the game and other than that I don’t really care what I look like!!” To this segment of the populace I say: Don’t give up! Don’t relax those standards! This is the easiest buy-in ever! Just hang a couple aprons on the car key hook and throw one over your head BEFORE you walk out the door. Who’s gonna know? And in today’s “athleisure” fashion climate this is NOT cheating; if women can wear workout clothes to Sunday brunch then you can certainly do this. Old Mother runs a big-tent operation here; all are welcome, even those currently in a microwaving phase (we’ve all been there).

So get on trend! Join the Apron Nation. Lattes are on me!




Posted in Non-fiction, seriously funny

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