I hate to see someone get picked on. And when it’s my sewing machine, I feel compelled to defend it with the same zeal with which I rip out seams: Slowly, methodically, and with a burning hatred in my heart.
My poor sewing machine. She’s just a basic little thing, as plain as Jane and twice as homely. She’s old and cheap and she has bad habits . . . like if I don’t put the bobbin in just so she leaves a tangled mess of thread in her wake . . . And when trying to thread the needle, she squinches up the hole and releases an invisible fog of odorless gas that blurs my vision . . . And the pedal is so sensitive it goes from zero to sixty in the time it takes me to get my fingers out of the way. She doesn’t do anything fancy like automatically cut the thread or embroider in cursive celebratory wishes. In fact my sewing machine is kind of a douche, but she’s my douche and I would thank you not to bring up her inadequacies in front of me.
And I’m talking about you, people at the sewing machine maintenance places who have a wisecrack convention every time I take her in for regular maintenance.
Now that I sew more often, I have to get the machine tuned up and oiled about every six months. And every time it’s the same old story.
Sewing machine guy: O-o-o-oo-kay, um, you want a tune up? On this?
Sewing machine guy, who also fixes vacuum cleaners, by the way: You know we charge $98 plus tax to service it and you probably —
Me and sewing machine guy in unison: — spent less than that on the machine itself.
Just me now: Yes, I’m aware.
Sewing machine guy, who, sure, probably sees machines every day that are fourteen times as expensive as mine, but doesn’t have to be so mean about it: So you’re gonna end up paying more to have it maintained than it would cost to just go buy a new machine. You know that, right?
Me: Yes, I know. I’ve gone through my options and the only way this makes financial sense would be for me to buy a brand-new $89 sewing machine every six months and throw away the old ones when all they need is an oil and tune-up. Either that or buy a way more expensive machine just so that the maintenance cost-to-purchase price ratio makes me feel better. I’ve decided to go with Option C and just ask you to go ahead and give this machine a tune-up as I asked without getting all up in my business.
Disposable sewing machines are not who we are as Americans, right?
Because I’m not privy to what goes on in the sewing world. I sew now, but I’ve never felt really accepted by other people who sew, and there might be some rules and tenets out there that no one told me. My sisters are very accepting, but are the exceptions to the rule. I’m shocked actually at how snarky and competitive the quilters were at a quilting conference I went to a few years ago. They looked down their noses at me and my little hand-pieced heart square and one chick with a mouth full of bagel and cream cheese lectured me on the length of my thread. It wasn’t the sisterhood I expected, having been to women’s writers’ conferences and the Girl Scouts.
So when sewing machine guy disparages my cheap little machine, I can’t help but stick up for her and her self-esteem. Yes, she was cheap. Eighty nine dollars at Walmart, a Christmas gift for my daughter, who at 12-years-old decided she might want to sew. She never did, but I did. Starting with simple projects, I used it more and more, especially when I was the marching band mom in charge of uniforms and that Velcro wasn’t going to attach itself to all those gauntlets. And then I took up quilting, under my sisters’ protective tutelage. I started making everyone in my family a homemade gift for Christmas. I made and gave away dozens of aprons one year, tote bags the next. Pillow cases, placemats, napkins, coasters and table runners were flying through my little machine on a monthly basis. And despite occasional douchey behavior, she did just fine.
“You should get one of the newer, fancier machines,” said everyone in the world.
I’ll stick with this one. Who else would defend her like me?
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