Sunday, April 8, 2012

spotty, spots, polka dots

polka dot

1. one of a pattern of small circular regularly spaced spots on a fabric
2. a fabric or pattern with such spots

1. a rounded mark or stain made by foreign matter, as mud, blood, paint, ink, etc.; a blot or speck.
2. something that mars one's character or reputation; blemish; flaw.


1. full of, having, or occurring in spots: spotty coloring.
2. irregular or uneven in quality or character: a spotty performance.
2. erratic, random, sporadic, episodic.

I've been longing for a way to write about polka dots, a way to express their visual impression on me, without sounding frivolous and silly and childish. Polka dots evoke youth and a carefree beauty reminiscent of flamenco and 80s prom dresses (adorable and coveted items in my book, by the way). But there's also something more about polka dots that is pleasing to the eyes in the way that looking out at a beautiful landscape or staring up into the night sky filled with twinkling stars is. Which brings me to my dreamy and moody take on polka dots....

Leave it to me to take something simple and cute and girly and make it serious, weighty, and sad. (I'm such a damper sometimes, I know.) A special, sweet friend of mine whose command of English is sometimes more endearing than accurate referred to polka dots as "spots." They are spots, really. Many of them and in uniformity, usually. And so, naturally, I looked up the words in the dictionary to search for their antonyms and synonyms. To my heavy heart's delight I am now able to "connect the dots" between my obsession with polka dots and my damper's view of the world as irregular, unreliable, flawed, and random. Sometimes life can be so consistent and good, or consistent and mundane but reliable in a good way. Other times it is erratic and messy and episodic. One day we are innocent, childish, beautiful, and worthy. Another day we might feel flawed, insignificant, unreputable, and small. Someone lovely who is here today may be gone tomorrow. Such is life. Such is polka dots. Beautiful and spotty and reassuring and mysterious as the night sky.

(Photos: YSL shoes from Treasure Island Flea; 1930s polka-dotted red bolero from Roads Less Travelled; 1940s peter-pan polka-dotted blouse from my favorite sellers at TIF.)