I’m so happy summer is over but I hate feeling that way because photographs and memories of my young summers were so fun. Movies and books about southern summers makes one feel like you’re the delicate but touched Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire or Maggie the Cat lounging seductively on a brass bed wrapped in a silk slip in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof — but they’re not, they’re just hot. But I digress because I’m mostly happy about not having to wear shorts.

It takes me forever to wear shorts when it’s time to wear shorts. I thought about this way back in April and realized how reluctant I am and how long it takes me to finally put them on which is practically when it’s time to take them off.

My routine since my fifties is that I put a crack in the shorts drawer so that I catch a glimpse of them, then I put them in a spot where I can get accustomed to shorts season coming up, then I have a bunch of wine and try them on. I figure if I keep this up it’ll soon be Labor Day and since I’m a southern girl who follows wardrobe rules it’ll be too late to wear shorts. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My legs have taken a turn for the worse. I could name a few more areas that have taken a turn but this article is about my legs. They’re not the same legs that took me flying down a basketball court with a short brown-pleated skirt and bloomers on, or the ones that donned culottes in the 8th grade and hot pants in the 10th grade, or 11th. Trust me, they were all the rage.

I remember Mama changing from her teacher clothes to her coaching clothes every afternoon for basketball practice at Mt. Carmel and that consisted of a pair of white shorts that landed right above the knee, so I googled, “shorts that land right above the knee,” and I found some at Talbot’s. They’re between your typical length shorts and some pedal pushers. I used to shop at Talbot’s in Lafayette a lot and I’d bring Emily with me. She would lie down on the floor and nap under a rack. As she got older she told me I needed to move on from Talbot’s, which I did, but now I’m back.

I now have two pairs of shorts that hide the above-the-knee area. But since I’m all of five feet two inches short I feel like I look like Wile E. Coyote when he attempts to smash The Roadrunner with a boulder. I feel so close to the ground. If I had a therapist and called his office to set up an appointment and the receptionist asked, “And what is it you’re seeing the doctor for?” I’d have to say, “I have putting-on-my-shorts anxiety.” I don’t have one but maybe I should. Oh, and one more thing before I leave y’all, my cover-up on the beach is now pretty much at mid-calf now. I told Emily and Jacques, “In a few years Mama’s cover-up is gonna be at her ankles, sorta like a formal.” Do people still say, “formal and receptionist?” I hope so. Oh and did you know people from Ville Platte say, “short pants?”

PHYLLIS BELANGER MATA was born at the old Dauterive Hospital and grew up on Wayne Street. She is a 1974 graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy and is a chili dog “without the wiener” aficionado.

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