From: Hana Schank
Date: 16 Mar 2015

Dear Catalog People,

Thank you for your continued belief in me. While I may think of myself as a desk-bound 42-year-old mom, you see someone who will one day require short shorts and a bikini top to wear when I go stand-up paddle boarding. I appreciate how you think that one day I might just chuck it all and move to Maui, where I will need a waterproof moisture-wicking sundress that I can change into behind a taco truck, after paddle boarding and before attending a parent-teacher conference. How thoughtful of you to realize that I’ll need a dress so I won’t spill hot sauce on my bare midriff while I laugh and eat tacos. I also like that the dress will look appropriate when I get to the parent-teacher conference. It moves well, so I can scrunch easily down into one of those little first-grader-sized seats, and the wicking will come in useful because I always sweat during those conferences. Teachers make me nervous. I guess you knew that.

I like that you’ve given the dress a built-in bra because when I go paddle boarding I’ll probably not have remembered to pack a bra. Most likely I’ll have driven my ’50s-era pick up truck to the beach, maybe after picking up anti-wrinkle cream at the pharmacy, to hang ten with the other 40-something moms. Do paddle-boarders hang ten? Well anyway, I’ll need something to wear to the beach, over my bikini top and short shorts, so I really appreciate the fact that you make a jaunty straw cowgirl hat and a flowy see-through shirt with a picture of whatever-asana on the front. But I won’t have a bra, and also I won’t have my gigantic mommy bag filled with child-sized mittens, hats, a half eaten granola bar, and a juice box from 2009. So it’s a good thing you put a stash pocket into that dress too. That way I’ll have a place to put my keys.

Thank you for believing that even though I live in the middle of New York fucking City I might one day be out running in a field and need some lightweight pants that I can throw over my running tights when it starts to get chilly, maybe while I’m doing my cool down next to a lighthouse as the sun sets behind me. Of course we both know that I’m not going to wear those pants for any activity that has anything to do with running. In fact, I will probably wear them for the opposite of running, which is to say they will be the pants I put on when I wake up on Saturday morning and decide that what I really want to do is eat bacon. But I appreciate your continued faith in me.

I can’t help but wonder, though, which article of clothing I ordered that caused you to start sending me the catalogs for women who are on the verge of giving up? Was it the somewhat shapeless blue sweater dress I purchased from a catalog filled with faux-indigenous-peoples attire? What was it called… Earth Ninja…? Simple Alpaca…? Blue Peru …? I did notice a lot of the clothing descriptions in that catalog said things like “easy” and “languid” and “Zephyr-light” and the women in the catalog don’t seem to be the stand-up paddle boarding type. They clearly prefer lounging comfortably with scarves, clutching a cup of coffee and remembering the days when they used to wear clothing that wasn’t beige. I guess those catalogs were your way of telling me that you were thinking of dropping the pretense that I might do something in my clothing. Maybe, you thought, Hana really just needs something that removes all sex appeal from her wardrobe because she just wants to be comfortable, damn it.

Speaking of which, remember when you guys used to send me the Victoria’s Secret catalog? What happened with that? I used to open the mailbox and there would be like forty-three V.S. catalogs piled in there next to a few bills and maybe an errant Fredrick’s of Hollywood. Though you and I both knew I wasn’t trashy enough to order something from Frederick’s, I did appreciate the thought, especially in college, that I might be having sex, which I wasn’t.

But now instead of Victoria’s Secret you have decided to send me a catalog called something like Bazongas. That is where my bras come from. These are bras for breasts that are about to scream “I quit” and walk out the door. They are feats of engineering, hydraulically powered contraptions designed to prevent one’s breasts from communing with one’s navel. I guess you were trying to be nice when you took me off the Victoria’s Secret list because you know that I no longer aspire to lounge around with tousled hair while my boyfriend makes me a cappuccino. I do not aspire to do this, and I don’t want to be reminded that other people aspire to do this.

Although, you never know: one day I might just fling my kids in the back of the SUV and drive across the country to go stand-up paddle boarding. I might quit my job, open a yoga studio on a craggy beach in Maui and make friends with some people who own a taco truck. And then I’ll need something to wear. Something waterproof and moisture-wicking, with a built-in-bra and hidden stash pockets.

Aspirationally yours,
Hana Schank