by Beth Boswell Jacks
So, listen, I made it through this fine frenzy of a weekend where I pranced down Capitol Street in Jackson, hoofin’ it to Louie, Louie, resplendent in my role as one of the most magnificent of the 2,000 Sweet Potato Queen Wannabes.
I’d prepared for this weekend in spite of pal Lee Lewis’s telling me: “You will go unnoticed. There is an absolute plethora of queens hailing from all corners of the universe. [The main thing is to] have a sense of humor so you don’t mind making a fool of yourself.”
His advice dampened my enthusiasm not a whit. I was bronzed and glowing with a spray-on tan. I had the royal wave down--fingers together, hand cupped. I’d captured the perfect attitude in my purple wig, purple nail polish and lipstick, green sunglasses, and yee-haw dangling earrings. [View Strumpets!]
I was--and am--a queen, and after the St. Paddy’s weekend I’m not likely to forget it.
Rolling out of bed Monday morning, I was ready to tackle the computer to describe the rollicking time I had strutting in the big parade, and wouldn’t you know? We’re on the verge of war with Iraq.
What to do? Is there anybody who wants to hear about my 48 hours of glory? I don’t think so.
Therefore, like everybody else, I parked in front of the TV, listening to the commentators, listening to President Bush and Colin Powell, listening to all the universal talking heads, wondering why we (Americans and French and Spanish and Canadians and British and Syrians and Guyanans and Chinese and Iraqis and . . .) can’t all get together and have one giant parade where we dress up, stick a flower behind each ear, hug, laugh and celebrate the joys of life.
Talking to my friend Beverly Lucey in Little Rock, I whined that there was no way I could, in the midst of war, write about a silly parade. She answered: “As Vonnegut said, when you look around the world you can only laugh or cry, so you might as well laugh. Not laugh at Iraq, but get yourself into a purple wig, haul butt down the thoroughfare to the beat of raucous music, and try to have a couple of harmless goofs to keep from concentrating on how powerless we are in the larger scheme of things.”
And there was more good advice from Marynell Jacob in Atlanta: “Nothing else seems very important now, although it all matters, don’t you think? I understand that expression, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ followed by ‘It’s all small stuff.’ However, I want to ‘sound my barbaric yawp’ (Walt Whitman) and say, ‘Sweat the small stuff, sweat the big stuff, and sweat all the stuff that comes in between, because every single thing is LIFE . . .”
I decided these savvy girlfriends are not only smart, but right.
The St. Paddy’s parade in Jackson, see, was like a huge “Here’s to Love and Life!” extravaganza, where folks gathered to welcome spring and salute with gusto the privilege of being alive in what ought to be a beautiful, peaceful world.
Sweet Potato Queen Wannabes congregated that weekend from all over the United States. Our Struttin’ Strumpets group met “girls” (almost all 40-plus years old and happy to be kicking) from Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and a zillion other exotic places.
The gals were short and tall, thin and wide, shy and brash, blond, brunette, and blue-rinsed. We Struttin’ Strumpets knew the others in our little group, but we knew none of the other Wannabes. Did this stop the camaraderie?
Not a bit.
Face it. We’re not on this earth long. Fighting takes up valuable time and energy, and frankly, not a one of us has extra to spare.
So I was thinking in the shower this morning: Wouldn’t it be just naturally great if international relations could be like one colorful, joyous, get-down parade?
I’m not going to fight about it, but if nobody else wants the job, I’m ready--I’ll be the queen.
BIO: Beth Boswell Jacks, editor of USADEEPSOUTH.COM, is the author of 3 books and writes weekly humor/personal essay columns for a number of regional newspapers.
Contact her by clicking this link.
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