What you see above is not a multi-generational photo. No, this is simply Katie’s family – the one she grew up with. The Fillmores. You have her parents there, front and center, and then all the siblings (minus one, Robyn, who passed away when she was 8 and Katie was 14).
Yes, you’ve counted that correctly. 10 children. Nine daughters. In a row. I’m just going to let that gel in your mind for a moment.
Though it’s contrary to social standards as well as most movie stereotypes and dated stand-up comic jokes, I quite enjoy my in-laws. And I’m always intrigued by how diverse they are. I mean, nine young ladies baked in the same oven and raised in pretty much the same environment…but their approaches to life as well as their passions, interests, techniques and leg-shaving habits are as varied as their hairstyles.
However, one thing they do have in common is their universal subscription to the frugal mantra “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” None of these exceptional women have the attitude of “I am entitled to Such-and-Such,” or “I deserve Thus-and-So.” These are prudent, parsimonious girls.
And while I admire that trait, I will freely admit that what I love most about it is that these cost-conscious attitudes occasionally produce what the Fillmores affectionately refer to as a “Throw-down.”
According to tournament rules, a Throw-down may occur when three or more of the sisters know they will be together for an evening. It involves the preliminary steps of going through your closets and drawers and bagging up whatever clothes you are feeling “done” with. You then lug these clothing items to the Throw-down location (usually in somebody’s living room), and when all are safely gathered in…you hock your wares.
Please note, you are not actually selling your clothing to the highest bidder. Your goal is just to get rid of your clothes, and hopefully head home with armfuls of clothing that your sisters – for whatever reason – are no longer interested in. It is essentially a “clothing exchange” party, wherein you are throwing down your old clothes and picking up used clothes that are now new to you.
Simple enough, right? But where the hilarity ensues is here, in the trading of the clothing. See, one of the other traits that the Fillmore Girls all share is honesty. OR, you might also call it “dismal salesmanship.” They wait their turn, then stand before the crowd and present their clothing, like an auctioneer. An auctioneer who, despite his honesty and disdain for the clothing items in his arms, manages to get other people to snatch them up. I have to think that it’s because each girl is so enthusiastic and upbeat with their sales pitch, you can’t help but want to give it a try! And then try it on immediately in the “changing area,” otherwise known as “behind the couch.”
Recently all the sisters were together – plus the new addition of Mark’s wife – for the first time in many years. The excitement and energy were almost tangible. I could barely contain my giddiness in anticipation of the singular sales pitches! And it did not disappoint. And for you, I present here some of my favorite quotes, overheard at a Fillmore Throw Down. (And said with much enthusiasm and gusto!)
Katie, holding up a straight, red dress: “This dress is super cute, but you can’t wear it if you are pregnant…or nursing…or if you’ve ever had a baby. Or if you are bloated.”
“This is cuter than it looks.” (And it wasn’t.)
“This blouse is nice, but I have a hard time moving my arms in it.”
“These pants say ‘dry clean only’…but they’re not anymore!”
“These pants might fit you…the elastic just isn’t good for keeping them on.”
Rachel, walking into the room and then observing Stephanie holding up an item of clothing, “Hey! Wait, what’d I miss?…YUCK!”
“These are so cute, but they’re size 8, so I only wear them when I’m pregnant or just had a baby.”
“This is completely out of date. I should have gotten rid of it when it was still in style.”
“You could make this jumper into a nice tote bag.”
“Here’s a good ‘wash-the-kitchen-floor’ shirt!”
“These pants come with spit-up on them.”
“I like that shirt!” “Well, it’s got weird sleeves.” “Ok, great!”
“This jacket is kind of ratty on the ends.”
“When I wore this, people told me I looked like a bell.”
“This is so cute…I actually might keep it.”
“These pits are a little sour on this one…I’m not even sure why I held on to it.”
“This sweater makes you look like a bee…or that you’re from Hufflepuff.”
“Here’s some running shorts. They’re Speedo. They kind of feel like a diaper. But they wick away the moisture!”
“Here’s a shirt. It’s actually a little boys’ shirt. But I like the fabric.”
“This one just has a couple of holes in it. And the pits have seen better days. But it’s a cute shirt, and I wore it a lot.”
“This is a shirt Rachel gave me … but I feel like a pumpkin every time I wear it.”
“This skirt is nice and long, but you can’t walk in it.”
“This one is so old that Eve wore it out of the Garden…and in high school.”