Flashbacks in a Fabric Shop

My mother sews, beautifully. She made all of our clothes as children, much to our chagrin as teenagers, when all I longed for was just one item of clothing with a label (the ingratitude of adolescents!) She still sews for us, only if we are specific about what we want, years of experience having taught her that.

It was with a pair of pants in mind that I found myself, reminiscent of my childhood, in a material shop with my mother this morning. She can spend hours, possibly days, in those places, so I had prepared myself mentally for some people-watching while she ambled about touching, stretching, experienced-seamstressing the hundreds of rolls of material.

My father drove us to the edge of the city where the enormous, warehouse-like material shop lives, two buildings down from the lap-dancing place where young Eastern European beauties trade their ware (apparently) and my mother and I went into the Aladdin-like cave (the fabric place, not the lap-dancing one.) As expected, my mother went into her Material Hunter mode and I sat quietly watching people.

The thing is, though, I had this funny feeling from the moment we walked in. You know that feeling when you meet someone and you feel like you know them, but you don’t know where from? I looked at my mother’s fellow hunters – the elderly sisters dressed in clothes too young for them, trying to find the perfect blue chiffon to go over the pale violet satin they’d chosen; the movie-type blonde wanting metres and metres of white fabric for a set; the gentle Xhosa lady going through the cordurouy for the perfect colour for children’s dungarees (with my mother, momentarily distracted by possible fabrics for dungarees for the fabulous twin grandsons) – nope, none of them seemed familiar (other than my mother, of course.)

Then I suddenly got flashbacks of dark, smokey corners, flashing lights and loud music and I realised that behind me, where there were now shelves and shelves of buttons and zips, there used to be a bar and there, on that huge floor covered in rows of material was a dancefloor and up there, where the material shop owner stood talking on a cellphone, surveying the room, was the DJ box.

This here material shop used to be a club, it was the building that was the familiar person I’d been feeling, having been there once, in it’s previous life as a nightclub, before it had retired into the more sedate phase of fabrics. I sat thinking of the night, the people I’d been with, that time of my life.

It’s always nice to bump into an old friend, isn’t it?

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