Emma June Grosskopf Mask

This past weekend, I went through a horribly traumatic experience.

A mouse jumped at me.

No, no, don’t worry, this isn’t another “Emma has issues with wildlife in her apartment” column, especially since the only words I can say about the return of mice to my humble abode are 4-letter ones that would disappoint my mother.

The mouse that jumped off my kitchen counter was the catalyst for a weekend apartment deep clean. I scrubbed that kitchen floor. I vacuumed under my bed (a tough and sweaty task that I regretted as soon as I started it). I bleached those kitchen counters (3 different times, because I didn’t want any signs that a mouse was ever there).

I even started going through my closet. What I found in there made me smile.

(No, it was not a mouse. This is not a column about mice.)

I found a pair of smiley-face leggings.

Yes, they look exactly how you imagine they would. At 1st glance, they look like black leggings splashed with big yellow polka dots, but those polka dots are actually smiley faces.

They’re glorious.

Let me tell you about these leggings, or as my mother always called them, “leggins.” I used to love those things. I got them from Forever 21 in high school, and I wore them A TON. I wore them with a black fur vest. I wore them with 5-inch heels. I wore them with knee socks pulled over them. I wore them under ripped jeans.

I don’t remember what ever possessed High School Emma to buy those leggings other than the fact that they were just painfully obnoxious. And loud. And fabulous.

They were fantastic. 

The last time I ever actually wore those leggings was at a Halloween party during my sophomore year of college. I was dressed as an 80s rock star (though, to be quite honest, I’m not sure any 80s rock legends styled smiley-face leggings. I could be mistaken, since that was before my time, but I’m just taking a wild guess here), complete with a pink bandana, a ton of glitter and hot pink leg warmers.

Take a moment and imagine that outfit in all of its glory.

These days, I’m wearing much more subdued outfits, like head-to-toe leopard print. Gone are my days of wearing smiley-face leggings, and to be quite honest, I forgot I even still had them. When I held them up to the light this weekend, I could see they were faded and pilling, with a little rip on the knee.

(That rip appeared after I tripped and fell leaving the Halloween party sophomore year. I am many, many things, but “graceful” isn’t one of them.)

I figured I’d have thrown them out ages ago.

I didn’t bother trying them on for old time’s sake, because if they fit me in high school, there isn’t a chance they’d fit me now. Seeing them did bring me back though to those times.

Pre-COVID. Pre-New Kid in the Holler. I’ve changed so much since then, but the reaction to seeing the leggings was the same. They definitely made me smile, and no, I didn’t throw them out when I found them.

Will I eventually? Probably, but right now I’m relishing the smiles. Both on my face and on a pair of leggings I haven’t worn in 3 and a half years, and never will again.

But I need that reminder to smile sometimes. For example, on Monday night, when the mouse came back. Sigh.

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