Confessions Of A Clampette
I have a confession to make. I have a hard time letting go of the things I love. Not in a hoarding kind of way; I’ve come to discover it’s more of a tactile dysfunction.
Like a toddler and her woobie (torn and tattered blanket) there are certain things you will have to pry out of my hands while I’m asleep, for that is the only way I will be able to release my grip.
I had a small blanket as a child; it was a warm, buttery, yellowish cream color, with a satin trim. It felt delicious. I would carry it everywhere, folding the corner into a perfect point, and obsessively running my fingers over that satin triangle. It soothed my soul, making me feel secure; it was my tactile toddler Valium and it could only be mended and washed while I slept – otherwise there would be hell to pay. Even now, during my darkest hours, I pine for the calming effect that blanket had on that fast walking, fast talking toddler – me.
Here’s where the confession gets embarrassing. Like red-faced, hide under the couch embarrassing.
I have replaced that sainted blanket with an adult woobie – My $750 set of Italian sheets.
You scoff, well, let me take you back to that day I first fell in love, and I KNOW you’ll understand.
It was a perfect September afternoon, the year was 2002, and the city was Rome.
The big handsome and I were finally enjoying our postponed Italian honeymoon (detoured by the events of 9/11).
Imagine, if you will, the two of us gleefully descending the Spanish Steps, gelato in hand; careful to navigate ourselves around the cool kids passing a joint and the numerous couples that were practically having sex in broad daylight.
We were strolling into the Piazza di Spagna, enjoying the colorful characters that surround the Barcaccia Fountain (the people watching in that particular piazza is off-the-hook ridiculous), when it caught my eye. It is to the right of the steps, across from where we’re standing; the facade is a sun bleached salmon color, and the smell is intoxicating, even thirty feet away – old Italian cotton, class, and money. I try to look away but there are SALDI (SALE) signs in the windows, making its siren song that much sweeter and more seductive.
The Frette Store – in Rome – a veritable wonderland of linens, towels and all forms of hedonistic goodness.
“Oh, sale, let’s go in” I say, trying to sound nonchalant, pulling my poor, unsuspecting husband into the cool, dark, recesses of Italian Heaven.
I call it that because if you’ve ever had the good fortune to touch their sheets, the sensation, especially to this tactile whore, sends you straight into ecstasy.
It was unlike anything I’d ever encountered. Forget the thread count. These are woven from the soft, down, hair of a cherub; marshmallow, and cloud.
They would never have the bad taste to be stiff and starchy, they are impossibly soft and worn in from day one – and they just get BETTER and BETTER.
We had been talking about getting a King size bed, so we were brazen enough to purchase two sets of the Italian equivalent of California King sheets with pillow shams. They were to be shipped in four weeks, after the bottom sheet had been Americanized (elasticized). $750 was the sale price, half off, which is how I talked him into two sets. “Two for the price of one.”
It was easy since he still had on his rose-colored glasses where finances were concerned. He was on his honeymoon, in Italy, high on pasta, red wine and gelato; well before he started to “hemorrhage” money on the remodel to accommodate the King sized bed.
For two and a half years; the time it took us to build the room to fit the bed; I looked at those boxes covered in FRETTE tape high on the closet shelf everyday, imagining ripping them open to reveal their magical contents, and then enjoying our first night sleeping on cherub’s hair.
At last, in February 2005, it was time. I slowly opened the boxes, the smell of Rome filling the room. I was never so happy to make a bed in. my. life. and I can tell you emphatically, – they did not disappoint. Amazingly, through the years, they have gotten softer and cozier – more than you could ever imagine.
They are my wildly expensive Italian woobies, and I love them.
We are now almost ten years in, and even though they are in rotation with sadly inferior Pima cotton sheets, the last year and a half has been hard on them (me).
My beloved Frette sheets have become threadbare.
I’m ashamed to admit, I even called Frette to complain that they had started to tear and develop holes, “oh my, well, how long have you had them?” her thickly accented voice inquired, “um, ten years” I answered, hearing myself say it out loud for the first time… crickets. They sent me a catalogue out of pity.
We have become the Clampetts, those hillbillies that hit it rich and moved to Beverly – Hills that is. Because inside the facade of a life of put together beauty, lies my tattered, patched up, little secret.
My cleaning lady, carefully patches them when I’m not looking, bless her heart; just like my mom did with my wobbie.
Sadly, with one set, the patch to sheet ratio finally became unacceptable, forcing my husband into an intervention. That night I took the long walk of shame, head hanging, eyes tearing up, to the trash to throw them away. Then I fished them out. It took me three tries.
I still think about them, late at night, sleeping in a dump somewhere.
They deserved a better fate.
Last night I put my foot through a hole in the bottom sheet of the remaining set. They have become impossibly delicate, like some ancient parchment from the Vatican archives; I need to wear white gloves and socks in order not to snag them. These sheets are so heavily mended and patched I’m completely mortified even though I’m alone in the room making the bed.
The writing is on the wall – they’re about to join their compadre in the city dump – or I can cut them up and have $750 rags.
Time passes, things move on. They let go a looooong time ago. Every marshmallow thread, every fiber of cloud – and I just need to do the same.
Wish me luck.