Coming back home without anything normal to wear was a mistake. Etta knows that now. She had chosen to fly empty handed and so she had to dress like a clown. She was fine as long as she did not leave the house but a trip to the grocery or to the neighborhood restaurant required a big coat, one that could be worn through dinner or up and down aisles at the grocery. A coat that would cover her unusual ensembles.
They were wondering if she was ill, cold, uncomfortable. Could they hang her coat on the rack. Would she please quit knocking the cereal off the shelves when she shopped.
So one day she just gave in to the whole uncomfortable situation. The coat hung in the closet. She went out wearing her old New Years Eve velvet skirt topped with a Hawaiian t-shirt. Etta was a beach bum on the top and a tango dancer on the bottom. She decided that it was more important to be perfectly comfortable eating her lunch and shopping for beets than it was to keep up appearances.
They stared and went tsk, tsk but at least no one mentioned her coat and she did not leaves oranges rolling down the aisle behind her at the grocery store. Yes, Etta finally realized there would be talk…”dementia”, “nuts”, and “she shouldn’t be out in public” would be whispered behind her back. She had ceased to care.
She should have known from the start that she was not above gossip. She had been naive to believe that they would not talk and would have some respect for her station in life.