You know what I think is a good time? If you said “going upholstery shopping” you would be wrong, and yet somehow I find myself compelled to write on this topic.

Just a little over a year ago, my folks moved from my childhood home in the suburbs of New Jersey to a home on the range in Delaware which most of my siblings and I descended upon last Christmas. For over thirty years we were used to the holiday sights, smells and activities that could be found in the shadow of New York City, and suddenly found ourselves in a cold, snowy plain with little activity to be viewed from the back porch of the new home. There are only so many games of Farkle, Uno and Skip-Bo to be played before a large family starts developing signs of cabin fever. What to do? What to do?

Well, if you were like us, I grabbed my plaid-lined jacket as everyone piled into the car one frigid white day and traveled an hour north to go UPHOLSTERY SHOPPING!!! Yippee doodle.

Yes, that’s right – thousands of bolts of cloth fabric greeted us at the store, all available for the astute decorator ready to deck their halls with plaids, fleur de lis, stripes and paisleys. My mother was on a mission to find material to recover her old dining room chairs to match the paint of her new dining room. My sister was on a mission to find something delightful to cover her nice old living room chair. I was on a mission to find a chair in the store on which I could retreat out of the way of their missions.

Thankfully, I had the foresight to bring along my sketchbook to draw in. Equally thankfully, the fabric store had the foresight to provide several comfortable chairs for husbands and sons to sit in. As I was making my imprint in a nice leather cushion with one part of me, another part of me was imprinting the blank pages of my sketchbook with doodles.

I soon was lost in the world of my imagination as my hand wielded the pencil about the pages, and then suddenly, there she was like a mirage calling to the thirsty desert traveller – GLADYS! She was a woman smiling, chatting, and enjoying her time tending to the needs of shoppers buying their last minute bolts of cloth to put under the tree. I’m not even sure that Gladys was her real name for she never revealed her real name to me – a true woman of mystery. But there stood this vixen in her cobalt blue sweatshirt and bobbed blonde hair with dark roots wearing a delightful pair of flower print pants with an elastic waistband. Not only was she beautiful, but she was practical. Oh glorious Gladys – where have you been all my life? It was at that moment that I knew I must draw her…

The coy and demure Gladys offering her siren call to unsuspecting holiday fabric shoppers.
The coy and demure Gladys offering her siren call to unsuspecting holiday fabric shoppers.

Then, just as unassuming as the day began, our time in the fabric store was at an end. I reluctantly closed my sketchbook and slowly walked to the door with a wistful look in my eye having an unfulfilled profession of love for Gladys. It’s just as well, though, as it never would have worked – she was clearly into flower prints, while I was into plaids.