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The Zipper
by Christine Dorothy

The sun shone brilliantly that day in January of 1972.  It seemed to illuminate the  marshmallow piles of snow on the quaint roof tops of the village.  We are in Champery, Switzerland, a small town high in the Alps, located at the very end of the train run.

I was working there in the main hotel for the winter and my parents had come to visit me for a couple of weeks.  They were renting an apartment a few paces from the hotel.
I need to interject here that my parents met when they were 16 and I don't think they ever grew up.  It was only when they separated after 25 years together that real life kicked in.

So there I was, establishing my good name and work ethic with the townsfolk and shopkeepers and being a good upstanding Canadian.  Then came along my parents. My mother was like Elizabeth Taylor, quite a looker. She was of course interested to shop and scout out the town so I took them on a tour. 

A mannequin in a boutique window caught her eye. She was wearing a beautiful jumpsuit that looked like it had been sprayed on her petite body. Well that was the one Mom wanted to try.  She insisted on the smaller size so it'd be good and tight.  So the saleslady dutifully took it off the rack and lead my Mother into the fitting room. 

My Mother decides that she will try it on on bare skin, and proceeds to remove her 'unawares'.  After she manages to tuck in the tuckables, she succeeds in getting it on.  She came out and modelled her shapely outline in the long mirror just outside the changing room.  We all approved!  Now she has to face the challenge of peeling it off.  Shortly, helpless calls drift from the changing room: "Ian!! Ian!”

My Father, a shy guy who likes to keep in the shadows, automatically gets up from his chair,  as he has responded so many times in their life together.  Unbeknownst to the innocent by-standers in the Boutique, Mom has got the zipper stuck half way down.  She desperately needs assistance and he is the only one around who can answer such a call for help.  

What ensued left an indelible impression on the witnesses within hearing shot. Behind the curtain cries of “Oh Ian!". "Oh, my god!!"  echoed through the air. The wails continued, "Not so hard!!", "Not so fast!!", "Gently!!", "Oh no!”

Finally, since their efforts failed miserably, my Dad came out of the changing room, flustered and self conscious as the people in the Boutique were staring at him with blank stares, wide eyes and frozen stances. In hushed tones, he meekly asks the sales clerk for a pair of scissors.

We left the shop empty handed and I silently wanted to send my parents back to their apartment until after dark, when I could sneak them out for dinner at some restaurant far from town.