Track-suiting up

29 Jun

The Lure of Velour

January 1, 2012


While Santa was busy getting iPhone 4S’s and Kindle Fire’s for all the other little boys and girls his elves were busy tracking down the number one item on my Christmas Wish List for me.
“What could possibly be better than technology?” you ask, puzzled, “World peace? Clean drinking water for all Ugandan children? A pair of Toms?”
No, noble as those holiday wish list staples are, I wanted something simpler, something that old ladies, Shanequa’s, and Regina George on a fat day had already embraced whole-heartedly (and in as many colors as there are views on the “Charlie bit my finger-again!” video).
Yes. All I wanted from the big-bearded guy was a velour tracksuit. (Come to think of it, isn’t that essentially what Santa himself is wearing?)
I’m not really sure where my desire for a matching fake-velvet pants and jacket combo came from. It started off as a joke a few years ago but every year as I see countless styles and colors of tracksuits in the stores my desire to have one deepens.
So, this year when my long-awaited tracksuit finally appeared under the tree, I was nothing if not ecstatic. Unfortunately, Santa (or his elves) went shopping in what appeared to be the maternity section and, silky soft and luxurious as my suit was, it didn’t quite hug my curves like I had always dreamed it would. I had to hit the after-Christmas sales to find my suit.
In Belk, I thought my quest would be over as soon as it began. There were velour tracksuits everywhere. A deep, elegant plum. A dramatic, plush merlot. An airy azul, reminiscent of the waters in Cabo during my honeymoon.
(Just kidding about the honeymoon part).
I grabbed a suit set in every color and size that I thought would fit and hauled my finds into the dressing room, staggering under the weight of the velour and getting odd looks from the swarms of old ladies shopping the pantsuit clearance. I slipped on the first one, a classic black number, the LBD of velour tracksuits, and was horrified. It was too long and baggy, a shapeless velour pillowcase. I stripped it off and threw it back on the hangers and tried on the next three, all with the same result.
Dejected, I carried my pile of suits out of the dressing room and returned them to their racks. A 60-something-year-old lady was at the register, wearing a perfectly-fitting peach velour tracksuit with her sensible shoes. I scowled in disgust at her suit that neatly covered her stomach pooch, grabbed my sister, and huffed out of the store.
What did I see walking outside of Belk, manicured claws flashing in the sunlight, but a bodacious black lady wearing a royal blue velour tracksuit that hugged her ample curves.
Everyone in the world, it seemed, had a velour tracksuit. Except for me. Outside of the restaurant where we met my mom for lunch, a black velour tracksuit-clad mother berated her unruly child.
I was ready to resign myself to a cold and fake velvet-free future when I decided to make one last-ditch effort to find the suit of my dreams. I printed out a coupon for Kohl’s and drove out to the store, not expecting much. Yet, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a rack of magenta and light royal blue gold-piped FILA velour tracksuits on clearance.
I snatched up one in my size and ran with it tucked under my arm, QB-style, to the dressing room. I slipped it on, not daring to believe that after all these years of wishing and searching, I might have found a velour tracksuit that fit. I turned around slowly to look at myself in the mirror and exhaled. The gold-banded hoodie circled my waist like the perfect dance partner and the pockets on the back of pants fell exactly where they were supposed to. It was deliciously soft, what I imagined angel’s wings would feel like. Sure, the blue and gold made me look like a guidette Argentinean soccer fan, but let people say what they want. I had finally found my track suit and I wasn’t letting go.


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