Maeve Higgins’s ideal . . . pair of tights
I was in my room the other day, arguing with strangers on the internet. They’d make a point, then I’d use both crude, badly spelled language to dismantle that point. People read my responses carefully and I successfully changed their minds about things. They signed off by thanking me, or saying “I guess, to each his own, right?” with smiley faces and kisses. This left nowhere to express my impotent isolation and already difficult-to-place fury. All tuckered out, I decided instead to imagine the ideal pair of tights.
Tights, named after the restrictive sensation they cause, are the worst. I dread them more than a rat clambering out of my toilet or an unchecked vegan explaining their motivation. Tights are close and constant and forever need hoiking up and twirling around. They make legs look like tubes and bodies look like machinated dolls, and not in a good way.
As anyone who’s gone to a traffic-light disco (or driven on a road and used actual traffic lights) will know– colours mean something. A woman in brightly coloured tights is transmitting a message, loud and clear. She is clinging to a cliff of despair and pleading: Help me, I’ve got a bottomless pit where my personality should be! Do not help her. Don’t you dare. Stand back, watch her lose her grip and listen as she tumbles . . . but I’m quirkkkkyyyyy. Thud, she’s gone.
You, get on with your day, remembering always to wear black tights and black tights only. I will only be satisfied when children hiding under tables peep out and see a host of black spidery legs scuttling around busily. Quiche? (That an esoteric way of asking “do you understand?” – Latin roots.)
Not really, says you – stirring in the bed and rolling over on to one elbow – what about flesh colour? Surely flesh colour is ideal.
You’re flat on your back, winded now. You have no idea what happened, so I’ll tell you. I karate chopped your supporting arm out from under you because I need you to understand my point about flesh-coloured tights. They don’t exist. Of course you can buy tights that claim to be flesh-coloured, you can buy anything, but those tights could never mimic what nature has created on this little island of ours. That peachy, bluish hue is all our own, an impossible ideal. Okay? Sit up now, have a sip of water.
The wintry truth is this – there is no ideal pair of tights. Tonight, I will open my sock drawer, clear away the sweet wrappers and have a good look at my tights. They will be rolled up in rows like so many sleeping hedgehogs, totally benign.
Come morning, all will change. They will yawn and stretch and slowly unfurl into their true selves – treacherous, conjoined serpents. On they will slither, tormenting me until nightfall, when I can shed them with a roar and, no longer frightened, return to my enlightened, untightened, self.