She was reorganizing her sewing room when I came by and looked in. She had used up some of her fabric stash to make her last quilt, and one of her shelves had a large empty space. I knew that if I blinked the space would be gone and the shelf restocked. She had some secret procedure for rotating her stash that I've never figured out. I assume I blink too much to ever find out how her shelves stay full. I do know that some of the stash she has in other rooms will be moving around in some mysterious way so that it never gets too old or overlooked or lost. Somehow, SHE KNOWS what the "Move Date" is for each yard of fabric. Somehow she knows what the "Use By Date" is for each inch of fabric.
I blinked, and when I looked again, a white plastic bag the size of a pillow, filled the emptiness. On the bag was written, in black felt pen, the letters MAF. "You did it again," I said.
"Did what?" she asked as she patted the bag into place.
"Never mind," I said. It was an impossible question to ever answer. If I simply asked her how the fabric got to where it now was, she would just smile and say, "Magic."
I looked again at the letters MAF. I tried to work out what they meant. I had never heard the term used by her before, and I wondered if it was some new quilting term. I couldn't just ask her. Not yet. I thought of all the fabrics she had bought. I had never heard of MAF. I thought it might be an anagram, so I tried twisting the letters around. All I got was FAM and AFM and AMF. I never heard of them either. Next, I thought of acronyms. My Armpit Fragrance? Magnificently Alluring Female?
"You are magnificently alluring," I said, hoping to trick her into an admission.
"Thank you," she said.
"Mabel Artemis Feignwetter?" I guessed. Maybe it belonged to some stranger who left it at our front door like a foundling.
"Getting a fever, are you?" she asked. I wasn't even close.
"Made About February?"
She just laughed.
"Martha And Fred?"
"Tell me," I said. It was a husbandly command. She only laughed again.
"I surrender." Didn't I have other things to do just then?
"Messing Around Fabric," she said.
"That's it," she said.
"That's all there is to it? Messing around fabric? What is messing around fabric?"
"A dollar a yard. Maybe two," she said. She was very gentle with me.
"And?" There had to be more. There was always more when she talked about quilting.
"That's all. I use it for messing around. It's for when I try out a new block design or practice a new quilting technique or use the rotary cutter to try out new templates. It's for things I would never want to use good fabric for. Good fabric's for quilts, not messing around."
"That's it?" I asked again. "Does every person who quilts have messing around..." I caught myself. "...MAF?" I continued. I had to practice using the correct terminology when talking to this quilter. I knew, however, I would never say "MAF" to any other living person.
"Maybe. Maybe not. Some may have T-O-F."
"Trying out fabric."
I just looked at her.
"Very cheap fabric."
"A-D-W," I said, joining in. She just looked at me as if I was C-R-A-Z-Y. "A dollar wasted," I explained. I shouldn't have. In her world any money spent on quilting is never wasted.
"A-D-W-S," She corrected.
"A-dollar-well-spent," she said emphatically. She put out her hand.
"You want some more dollars?" I asked, already reaching into my wallet.
"I'm not going to use my own money just to mess around," she said. She took all my dollars.
"It's a good thing all your shelves are full," I said, looking all around her sewing room to be sure.
"In here the shelves are full," she said mischievously, "but just in here."
"So you're going to go shopping for AMFAP?"
"As much fabric as possible," I said. "Isn't AMFAP a quilting term?"
"It is now," she said.
Yes, I'm sure it is.
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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