She was eight and she lived down the street, and when she accompanied her mother to see Joan's new dinosaur quilt, she asked, "Are they boy dinosaurs or girl dinosaurs?"
My Darling Wife, once a teacher of eight-year-old girls (and every other age boys and girls), gave a teacher reply. "What do you think they are?"
"They look like boys," she said.
"Well, maybe they are."
"Can you make girl dinosaurs, too?"
"Well, I hadn't thought about it, but, I think I can. Of course."
And that was the inspiration for Darling Wife to rummage once again through her stash, once again through her box of craft supplies, once again through her brain to think now about girl dinosaurs.
"They have to be different," she told me as she pulled scraps out of a box of scraps.
"Did girl dinosaurs look different from boy dinosaurs?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said.
"Males and females are often different. Some boy birds have fancy colorful plumage and the female is plain," I said. "Look at the peacock and the peahen."
"Canadian geese look the same," she said.
"How do you know that?"
"Why shouldn't I," she said.
"You've been reading the bird book again," I said. Indeed, we had several bird books. Since we had moved to Southern California four years before, birds we had never seen before surrounded us inland, in lagoons, on the beaches. And their droppings.
"Humans are different. Males are plain and women are fancy," she said.
"Men try to look fancy," I said, though it had been a long time since I had displayed any colorful plumage.
"So, female dinosaurs have to be fancy, too. It's only right."
"Whether it's true or not?"
"Who's making this quilt?" she asked.
'"Then you're going to make another dinosaur quilt?" I asked, though I guessed she was.
"A dinogirls quilt," she said.
"Fancy, frilly, female dinosaurs?" I asked, though I knew they would be.
"If I find the right fabric and the right trim," she said.
"I'm sure you will," I said.
"It's only fair to have girl dinosaurs," she said.
"I believe in quilt fairness," I said.
"So climb up to the shelf in the garage and find the box with the trim."
"From your sewing days?" I asked. She really meant shelves, not shelf, for she had stored boxes and boxes of patterns and notions and trim and crafts from the days when she sewed for our children and grandchildren. Now, except when she occasionally shortened my pants or hemmed a skirt, it was only quilts. Quilts were life.
I climbed and brought down the boxes and she went through them one after another, pulling out a lifetime's assortment of what she called her "sewing stuff." As she worked I went out back and looked for birds and tried to guess if they were male or female. I looked at the koi and goldfish in our pond and tried to guess if they were male or female. I could not tell if there were any fish girls or bird girls or even palm tree girls. I shook my head to myself and went to take a nap.
"Dinogirls," she said to me several quilting days later.
"What?" I asked. For a moment, I had forgotten the conversation of days before, the searching for 'girl stuff' to distinguish giant creatures from one another.
"My dinosaurs are definitely ready to go out in public and show off their femininity," she said.
"Did you put dresses on them?" I asked.
"Of course not. Dinosaurs didn't wear dresses. They would have been laughed out of the primeval landscape."
"Millions of years ago there was a lot of mud and stuff," she said.
"No one to make them," she said. "And besides, they would get dirty from being dragged around and the volcanoes would spew ash all over them."
"So, there were no quilts?" I asked just to make sure.
"Just dinosaurs and their friends."
"I'm sure they didn't go around eating other dinosaurs all the time. Some had to have friends."
"Girl friends and boy friends?" I asked. I realized then that she had me hooked, that she was going to tell me that her quilt was an accurate picture of some dinosaurs and that some of the dinosaurs were looking for mates and that it was a good thing they could tell which was which among them.
"Don't be silly. I'm just making some female dinosaurs to make a little girl happy. After all, there is no real Tinkerbelle or Snow White."
"They're not real?"
"Well, they could live in your imagination," she said.
"Like your dinogirls?"
"My quilt is real, and if I want to believe in feminine dinosaurs, there's no harm in that."
"Show me," I said.
"I was waiting for you to ask."
She showed me. Nine dinosaurs living in a primitive world. And it didn't take a paleontologist to tell that these were girl dinosaurs. At least, I thought they were. They had ruffles and lace and a sweet twinkle in their dinosaur eyes. "I am a believer," I said.
"It's a good thing I saved all the trim all these years," she said.
"Do you think they had beauty contests?" I asked. I was looking at the dinogirls.
"Good looking dinosaurs with happy personalities," I said. "Girls just want to have fun. There could have been dinosaur beauty pageants and Miss Universe contests."
"You have a prehistoric mind," she said.
"You're saying I don't understand quilting?"
"I'm saying it's time for put all the boxes back on the shelves in the garage. That's what I'm saying. Now!"
"You're asking Tyrannosaurus Rex to put the boxes away?"
"Tyrannosaurus Wrecks will be more like it. Shoo."
I shooed. "Good looking girls," I said behind me as I went.
Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Femosaurus Quilt"
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