I was wearing my fancy clothes when I caught the little girl staring at me. I was feeling fantastic and I knew I looked good.
Perhaps, I thought, she had noticed that.
I was visiting the city for the day. All alone, I strutted the streets of downtown in my hip, city girl uniform of black high heeled boots and black pants and dark wool coat. My regular, comfortably frumpy uniform of worn yoga pants and hooded sweatshirt and the teenager’s fuzzy slip-on shoes sat crumpled in a heap on my bedroom floor. My fancy clothes had transformed me into a new woman.
It had been a fabulous day in the city. The black clad, more urbane, cooler version of myself had shopped in stores where I couldn’t afford a thing. I took my time in stores that had nothing to do with cars or sports or electronics. I ogled the spatulas in the kitchen store for over 20 minutes. No one rolled their eyeballs or huffed with impatience or begged me for a thing. No one was so hungry they were going to die. No one had to go to the bathroom 3 minutes after I asked them if they had to. No one burped out loud-twice-because they literally would have exploded if they hadn’t. No one bickered. No one touched breakable things. And no one thought it was funny to see who could squeak their wet shoes on the store floor the loudest. I was on cloud nine.
I held my head high as I took in the downtown life. I saw the sculptures and the art and the intricate oriental rugs. I went to the market and smelled the flowers and the fish and the bread that was just out of the oven. I felt like a giant among the skyscrapers. I watched an entire rainbow of races and cultures around me and knew that I belonged. I knew I was smart and edgy and hopeful. The day was good. Life was full of promise. The world was beautiful. And it all started when I put on my fancy clothes that morning.
I was dressed in those fancy clothes when I sat down on the park bench to eat a street cart gyro for lunch. I was bloated with confidence and attitude and a tiny bit of haughtiness when I first saw the little girl and her family in the park. I smiled at the little girl when I caught her staring at me. I mindlessly nibbled at my oversized gyro and took in the beautiful scenery. I reached for my napkin when I felt the first drip of tzatziki sauce run down my hand. I thought it would be a good idea to rewrap my gyro to stop the drips.
It was not a good idea.
An impressive flood of white, tzatziki yogurt sauce that had been pooling in the bottom of the wrapper was set free when I tried to rewrap my gyro. My lone napkin was no match. The bottom part of my coat, my entire thigh and knee and one of my boots were now sporting copious amounts of white sauce, bits of cucumber and garlic and a few stray lettuce and onion strands. I tried to brush my hair out of my face and streaked it, and the side of my face, with the dripping sauce that now covered both my hands. My self-assured, bloated attitude was immediately deflated. My lone napkin had turned to mush. I sat on that park bench, stunned at my predicament and a little bit lost as to what to do next. My fancy clothes were filthy. In one instant I had become a befuddled, bedraggled mess.
I looked up at that moment to see the little girl and her family walk past me as they left the park. The little girl stared at me with eyes that couldn’t get any wider. She grabbed her mother’s hand and said loud enough for me to hear, “Mommy, look at that lady. Her clothes are so dirty. Why is she so dirty mommy?”
The mother tried to hush the girl. “Shhh. That’s not polite honey. Homeless people don’t have any place to wash their clothes like we do. That’s probably all she has. Now let’s get going.”
I was wearing my fancy clothes on the day that lady called me homeless.
I guess she didn’t notice that.
Check This Out!
Try this tzatziki sauce the next time you find yourself in need of some.
1 pint plain yogurt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 TBL plus ½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup sour cream
1 TBL white wine vinegar
2 TBL lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 TBL olive oil
1 ½ tsp minced garlic
1 ½ tsp minced fresh dill
pinch ground black pepper
Place the yogurt in a paper towel or cheesecloth lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 TBL of the salt. Place it in another sieve and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours to drain. (Some Greek yogurt is thick enough that it needs little draining.)
Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, ½ tsp of salt and the pepper. Refrigerate for a few hours.