Well, to begin with, there's the bib. It is a very comforting feeling to have a thick denim barrier between my tatas and the eyes of men.
Now that I think about it, that is why I went out and got my first pair. This was maybe - oh - seven years ago or so.
I was out working in the garden that day. I can't remember exactly what I was wearing but it was probably just a t-shirt and shorts. Grubby - you know. I don't like to fuss about my clothes and gardening is dirty work if you are doing it right.
Anyway, when the sun got hot at noon I decided to run into town to pick up a few more tomato plants. I was only planning on going to the nursery so I didn't bother changing. Just cleaned the dirt from under my nails and tidied my hair and jumped in the car.
I never was one for looking in mirrors.
But the tomato cages at the nursery that year were cheap ones. You know the kind that your tomato plants just rip apart the very first season. So I decided to stop at the hardware store in town to pick up some two by two posts instead.
How I hated that hardware store. It was owned by young Bill Lawson after his father retired. But they're both the same. Cut from the same mean cloth and given to striking out at anything they don't agree with. Like people from anywhere in the world besides Anneville. Or women. Especially women.
Bill married the nicest little girl from up over by Wallaceton. I did the flowers for their wedding. It was a spring wedding and she chose lilacs. The hall smelled heavenly. But that was the last time anyone really saw her. Kim, that's her name. Anytime anyone asks about her Bill says she is busy taking care of the kids. He doesn't say it but his tone lets you know he means 'like a woman should be.'
Anyway, that hardware store served as a sort of clubhouse for young Bill Lawson's friends. Half of them worked there and the other half just hung around all day, offering up opinions about anyone dumb enough to wander into the store. Normally, I would drive the extra half hour over to the big place out on number five road, but I wanted to get those tomatoes in that day and you need to put the support in at the same time as planting, if you can.
So I stopped at Lawson's Hardware against my better judgement.
Inside the store, the men were all congregated around the chairs at the back and it looked like I'd be left to get what I needed and get out. But then the two by twos needed cutting so Bill's younger brother David came over to the saw to make the cuts. I told him I wanted five foot lengths but he just stood there looking me over from head to toe like I was a prize heifer and he was a judge at the county fair.
"Bill," he called over to his brother. "Bill, you better come help me out here. Lily needs some help with her posts."
Bill sauntered over and joined David in leaning against the counter. Neither one was in a hurry to cut the posts.
"Well, Lily, what brings you in here today looking so hot? Is it summer out there already?"
They just leaned there, both of them, with their arms crossed across their chests. Assessing me.
"I don't know, Bill. I'd say Lily looks a mite cold."
Both men smiled identical nasty smiles as both pairs of eyes boldly dropped to my front. It was air conditioned in the store, so I guess they were looking at my nipples and I felt my face go hot. I felt a rush of shame and anger both, all at once. I didn't know whether to stand my ground and get the damn posts or leave and give them the satisfaction of having rattled me.
"Say, Lily, how are you doing out at the house in the country all by your self. Don't you feel like you need a man around the place to feel safe at night? Why - anybody could just show up there one night and then what would you do?"
Well that did it and I guess I should thank Bill for saying that because that gave me the push I needed to get out of there.
"I would shoot him," I said clearly, looking them both dead in the eye. And then I turned around and left.
I could hear them calling after me - oh honey don't be mad - stuff like that. I just kept walking.
When I got home, I took those tomato plants into the back yard and beat them to death with a shovel. I had to do something. I felt so ashamed of my body with its bits and parts and so angry that those yahoos could get to me like they did.
The very next day I went over to the co-op and bought myself a pair of overalls. I have worn them everyday since for seven years. Well, not the same pair, but you know what I mean.
Lawson's Hardware burned down a few weeks after that and Bill took the insurance money and built himself a big place over in the next county. Good riddance, I say. People around here think maybe he set that fire.
I don't say that. But other people do.