Apron Memories

Years ago, I asked Bob to write about the topic of "aprons".... he struggled at first, but it's a great story! Thanks Bob for being a good sport!

By Bob Burdick

When a woman asks a man about something he's familiar with, such as spark plugs, he'll square his shoulders and offer a straightforward answer. Why is this? The simple answer is comfort, as men view spark plugs as manly, so expressing a view falls within their comfort zone.

However, when a woman asks a man about something he perceives as womanly, he'll exhibit discomfort.

Human Behavior 101 is rife with forty-dollar words to explain this condition, but we need not wade into such pool, as my simple purpose is one of confession. And yes, this is in spite of male perception of "confession" as womanly.

You see, a few weeks ago Wendy and Sandra conspired and then decided we'd write about aprons in this issue. Aprons? Yes, and when this decision reached me, which is part and parcel of my confession, I experienced a certifiable case of discomfort. That's the bad news.

The good news is, and this came about only after giving serious thought to aprons, my discomfort ebbed. In fact, I said, "You can do this." Of course my inner voice quickly added, "Only if you do it from a manly point of view." So, fasten your seatbelt as I relate how the "three faces of aprons" played center ring in my life, first as comfort, next as stigma, and finally as reality. And, to quiet my inner voice, all comment will be from a "manly point of view."

My first awareness of aprons occurred while a child during WWII. With Mom and Dad caught up in the war effort, I spent a lot of time with Granny. I remember the colorful array of aprons she'd sewn from feed sacks, and that each was worn for a specific purpose, such as cooking, feeding livestock, or cleaning a chicken for Sunday dinner. When Granny donned an apron, I felt safety and comfort, as I saw her as fit and ready as our soldiers in uniform. In fact, armed as she was with the items that filled the apron's pockets, I believed Granny could do anything.

The stigma associated with aprons occurred later at some point during grade school. This did not involve a physical apron, only the teasing of one of my classmates that he was still tied to his momma's apron strings. I didn't fully understand these implications at the time, but I do remember the ugliness of it all and of my immediate wish to be a man instead of a boy.

Adolescent perception fades with adulthood and it was at this point when I understood the reality of aprons. Granny had worn aprons tailored to aid in a specific activity. My dad did the same, as he wore a leather apron when welding or using a cutting torch. And during my construction career, I often wore a nail apron.

So there you have it: this male's recollection of aprons. Now please excuse me, as I need to change the spark plugs in my truck.

Bob Burdick, a retiree, novelist and short-story writer, can frequently be seen robed in a grease-stained apron while holding reign over his outdoor BBQ pit.

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