Just the Other Day: The Quilt Club

I don’t remember who started it. I suppose it might have been me, although I’m not usually one to instigate trouble. Regardless who started it, it’s been going on for years and it’s still going on.


The first time I remember it happening, my wife had done something that annoyed me. I’m sure it was nothing big, but it was something because I felt a need to react. I went to the bedroom. Our cat at that time, Salem, was sleeping on Melissa’s flannel pajama pants, which were neatly folded at the foot of the bed. I moved Salem, unfolded the pajamas, tied a knot in the right pant leg near the foot opening, then re-folded them. I put them back where I found them and put Salem on top to resume his nap.


Later that night, I was folding laundry in the bedroom. Melissa came in to get ready for bed. She slid her left leg into her pajamas, then her right. Her foot obviously wouldn’t go through. “What the…” Confused she immediately looked to me with suspicion.


“What’s wrong?” I asked innocently.


With an accusing tone, she said “Someone tied a knot in my pajamas leg!”


“Really? A knot? In your pajama pants? Who would do such a thing? Maybe it happened in the washing machine.” She wasn’t buying it. “I saw Salem laying on them earlier. Maybe he did it. He’s quite a prankster you know.”


Melissa scowled as she untied the knot, put on her jammies and climbed into bed. I put the rest of my clothes away, turned off the light off and got in bed myself. “Goodnight, honey.” I said sweetly, suppressing my laughter, trying not to make a sound.”


“Stop laughing, you’re shaking the bed.” She said.  A few mornings later I found a knot in one of my favorite socks…and it’s been going on, back and forth ever since.


Once a garment has been sabotaged, you have to wait a few nights, preferably more, before retaliating. If you respond too soon, they will be expecting it, thus nullifying the element of surprise. Patience is key here. Revenge is sweet, but like a good wine, it must be properly aged.


Melissa eventually conceded defeat; or just tired of the game. She hadn’t returned fire for months and months; maybe even a year. Then, a few weeks ago, on a Sunday night, she was in bed reading. I was hurrying to finish up a couple things. It was late and I wanted to get to bed; I had an early dentist appointment the next morning. I brushed my teeth and went to the bedroom to put on my pajamas. That’s when something went awry.


I slipped my right leg into the flannel pants and was already lifting my left leg – but my right leg wasn’t through yet – it was like something grabbed my foot. With my other leg already in motion, gravity took over. My upper body started making its way to the floor. Instinctively, both my hands clinched tightly to the elastic waist band on my pajamas as if that was going to save me. With my feet tangled in the cloth, I stumbled a couple steps forward, bent over, bouncing off the side of the mattress. I let loose of my britches just in time to grab a handful of the bedspread, saving myself from crashing to the floor. I landed on my knees in a nearly perfect position to say my evening prayers.


I caught Melissa peeking over the top of her book; watching this spectacle with delight. She quickly turned her eyes back to the pages, appearing aloof to my situation. I quietly thought, very funny Melissa; I wasn’t about to give her any satisfaction by saying that out loud. She pretended to be engrossed in her book, trying to stifle her laughter.


I pulled myself to my feet, standing next to the bed. My pajama pants were on the floor with my legs still tangled. I retrieved them, untied the knot, then started to put them back on. I hesitated while I inspected the other pant leg, just to be sure.


I turned off the light and crawled into bed. Melissa closed her book, setting it on the nightstand, then turned off the lamp. “Goodnight, honey.” She said sweetly, suppressing her laughter, trying not to make a sound.


“Stop laughing, you’re shaking the bed.” I told her. I laid awake thinking; plotting. Perhaps in the morning, I would chain and padlock her car to a tree. She would have to call me and with a mouth numbed by Novocain, I would try to tell her where the key was hidden. I drifted off to sleep remembering, don’t rush things. Let the revenge simmer…it will be all the sweeter…zzzzzz…


Several days passed. On Friday morning after Melissa left for work, I was making the bed.  Her old, worn, brown hoodie sweatshirt was laying on the bed. I folded it, noticing the hole in the armpit. I had an idea to surprise her. I went to my sock drawer and pulled out my needle and thread. I started stitching on the brown fabric, but all I had was white thread. It was very noticeable and looked terrible.


I called Aunt Di. “Would you happen to have any dark brown thread? All I have is white. I could come by in about an hour for coffee and do my sewing while we visit.”


“I do and I would love to,” Di told me, “but I won’t have time for coffee today. I need to finish a couple things and go to my quilt club at one-o-clock.”


Di is a member of the Faith Lutheran Church Quilt Club. They meet every Friday afternoon in Silver Bay, Minnesota.  They make beautiful quilts to sell during the local Bay Days celebration, raising money to purchase material for the club. They also give quilts to high school seniors for graduation and provide free quilts to vets at the Veteran’s Retirement Home. My Uncle John used to join them for coffee on occasion and told me they were a real nice group of ladies.


“I could meet you at your quilt club, do my sewing and join you for coffee there.” I suggested.


Di said she would like that very much. “I think the girls would get a kick out of meeting you.”


When I arrived, the ladies had just finished a quilt. They folded and hung it on the wall racks with the other completed quilts. They laid out another large piece of fabric, taping it down to the surface, then a layer of fiber filling and finally the quilt top. It had orange and black Halloween theme patches and fall colors all sewn together. It was really neat.


“I went ahead and threaded it for you.” Di said, handing me a needle with a tail of brown thread. Then, she climbed a two-foot step ladder and crawled across the table top toward the material.


“Didn’t your mom teach you not to climb on the furniture?” I chuckled.


Di explained, “Karen usually does this, but she couldn’t be here today. Since I’m the next youngest person, (at 78 years of age) I get to do it.” I asked what she was doing, “We use push-pins to hold the layers together where we’re going to tie it with yarn. We can’t reach the middle of the quilt from the floor, so we climb on the table to do it.”


Being taller than the ladies of the quilt club, I reached to the middle of the quilt and put my finger on a spot. “You mean like here?” I chuckled.


I was face to face with Di. On her hands and knees, she glared over the top of her glasses. “Don’t you have something to do?”


The ladies continued to work; I told them an original joke I made up. Nobody laughed. “I don’t like that one.” Di said, “Tell them the one you told me the other day.” I did, but again, nobody laughed. When I mumbled something about this being a tough crowd today, Di asked, “Shouldn’t you be sewing your shirt?” The ladies all laughed about that.


I sat on a stool, turned the brown hoodie sweatshirt inside out and lined up the two edges I wanted to stitch together. I pushed the needle through the fabric, pulling it out the other side. I gave it a light tug, then started another stitch. Di observed from the table. “I thought you were fastening on a button. If I knew you were sewing a seam, I would have put a little knot at the ends of thread.


“It’s no problem. This is working just fine.” I said and kept stitching. Then I asked, “Do you have any more of this brown thread?” Di told me where the thread was. I pulled a long piece and threaded it through the eye of the needle. I pulled the two ends together, tied a little knot and resumed my work.


When Di came o the quilt table, she came over to inspect my work. “Your stitches are nice and evenly spaced, but they could stand to be a little tighter together.”


“I don’t want them too tight.” I said, explaining, “I’ll probably have to pull them out tonight.”


Confused by my comment, she leaned in for a closer look. Di wrinkled her face, “What are you doing?”


“I’m sewing the face shut on Melissa’s favorite hoodie.” I announced proudly. A couple more ladies came over to see. One asked why I would do such a thing. I explained our tradition and how it had died out the last year. “Melissa restarted it by tying a knot in my pajama leg on Monday. I’m just upping the ante a bit.” I went on to explain, “I sewed it shut at home with white thread. The seam really showed, so I tore out the stitches and called Di to see if she had some brown thread.”


Di quickly defended herself, “I thought he was sewing on a button!”


“I never said what I was doing. I simply asked if you had any brown thread and that I would meet you at the quilt club.” I replied.


“Don’t you involve our quilt club in your nefarious deeds!” Shelby said, drawing a good laugh from the other girls.


After pulling the last stitch through, I cut the thread and turned the shirt right-side-out to show them my work. Most agreed that I did a pretty nice job. They all laughed when one of them said, “It’s a shame to waste good stitching on such foolishness.” I wondered, why can’t I get them to laugh like that?


I asked Di if I could have some more thread. “I think you’ve done enough sewing for today,” she said.


“I was going to repair the hole under the arm while I’m here.” Di looked at me with skepticism. I held the sleeve up, showing the hole. “Seriously, I was going to fix this.” Di was reluctant, but pulled off another stretch of brown string and threaded the needle for me. I finished mending the hole. The ladies, ready for their break, began migrating toward the table for coffee and snacks.


I hadn’t formerly met all the gals in the quilt club, so I introduced myself. Arlene said, “I’ve heard all about you.” Bev said, “Di told us about you.” Hmph. I wondered, told you, or, warned you?


I told the ladies a story: “Melissa was a photographer for the newspaper. She bought a new pair of black dress slacks for a big photo assignment, but the legs were too long. I hemmed and pressed them for her. My ability to sew, very well might have been why she married me.” I said.


Bev commented, “Well it certainly wasn’t for your sense of humor.” The ladies and I all laughed about that.


After we had ice cream bars, I folded the sweatshirt and said I needed to get home. The girls said I could come back anytime, then returned to the quilting table.


At home, I set her hoodie at the end of the bed, then went about my business. A few hours later, Melissa walked into the kitchen wearing her old worn, brown hoodie. I had to fight off any smirk or sign of emotion. She finally started laughing. “You goof! I thought I was drunk and must have put my shirt on backwards. I felt the front for the pocket, then figured out what you did.” We shared a good laugh about that.


“Did you notice I fixed the hole under the arm?”


She lifted her arm to look. “Hey! You did!” She said with excitement, “Thank you, honey.” Then she gave me a hug.


We had a fire in the woodstove that evening and watched a movie. The house was pretty warm at bedtime, so I thought I would just sleep in my boxer shorts. About four in the morning, I woke up feeling chilly. I was going to put my pajama pants on in the dark, so as not to wake my wife, but I felt something odd – almost like a package a new T-shirt would come in…or maybe a new pair of pajamas pants. Did my wife surprise me with new jammie pants tucked inside my old pair? I carried my PJ’s to the bathroom.


I turned on the light, excited to find the present my wife left for me. “What?” Someone, used black duct tape to seal off, not just one, but both legs of my pajamas! “Boy! That woman just never gives up.” I said as I pulled the tape from the flannel. I was going to ball the tape up and throw it away, but had a better idea. “There’s no sense in letting this duct tape go to waste.”


I lifted the lid and seat on the toilet and used the black sticky tape to securely fasten the seat to the bottom side of the lid, then closed them together. I snickered, “Let’s see who’s laughing when someone sits on an ice-cold porcelain rim in the morning.”


I went back to bed, trying hard not laugh or make any noise. “Stop laughing, you’re shaking the bed.” Said the sleeping person next to me.


As I laid there, I thought to myself, I’m going to have to come up with some new material before going back to the Quilt Club.


…to be continued…