by Beth Boswell Jacks
[Heeeeeere are the pictures!]
MONDAY, MARCH 3: I’ve lost my mind. In a weak moment, I agreed to march in the St. Paddy’s Day parade in Jackson with the “Struttin’ Strumpets,” a group of girls with questionable Millsaps diplomas (circa late‘60s) who are feverishly grasping in their old age for a few more wild and crazy days.
My cousin Marg roped me into this. She and the others are a tad younger than I, and are not new to wild and crazy. I am. They thought I’d never accept, but I fooled ‘em. Besides, all the proceeds go to the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children--one of my favorite charities.
I’m so excited I can’t stand it.
TUESDAY, MARCH 4: Marg said I should get my costume ordered ASAP because the other tramps in the parade might wipe out our inventory. Already did that--ordered yesterday afternoon. The Strumpets all dress alike. Purple flapper dresses with miles of fringe. Towering purple wigs. Black (and wicked) fishnet stockings. White turkey feather boas. Absurdity, insanity, and strict uniformity are the rules. The motto is something altogether different, and that’s all I’ll say about that.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5: The costume arrived before noon today. Of course, I had to try it on immediately. My friend Daisy said, “Oooh, girl, you look good in that short purple dress with yo’ big legs.” Gave me pause.
I will have to remember to scooch in behind some of the other Strumpets when pictures are made so all of me is not front and center. Marg says the Strumpets are the most photographed group in the parade other than the Sweet Potato Queens, but with my addition this year she’s sure we might surpass them. I most definitely can strike a pose. I’ve been practicing.
THURSDAY, MARCH 6: The Strumpets want hubby G-Man to be a cabana boy, pulling the water wagon or carrying the boom box. Marg says she has a green leprechaun hat he can wear. They’re also planning to order purple pants and attractive painted muscle body shirts with “Struttin’ Strumpets Staff” on the back. He’s balking.
FRIDAY, MARCH 7: Received word this morning that we Strumpets will meet on Saturday morning before the parade to rehearse our dance routine. The music of choice is “Louie, Louie,” and I have an idea my one bit of hoofin’ skills (Shuffle/Ball/Step) will not fit into the moves they’re planning.
SATURDAY, MARCH 8: Modeled my purple costume for the grandkids, who squealed with delight. I think I remind them of Barney.
SUNDAY, MARCH 9: G-Man is still balking. Marg says if he’d just put on the stupid outfit and some big sunglasses, nobody will know who he is. When the throngs begin screaming at him because he looks so cool--and because they want “Beads, Mister!”--he’ll be transported into the euphoria of the whole wacky affair. He’s saying something about decorum, and I’m saying, “Decorum, schmorum. You don’t get an opportunity like this every day.” If you ask me, I believe the problem is the leprechaun hat.
MONDAY, MARCH 10: My poor treadmill doesn’t understand all this activity. I’m going at it twice a day, which has put blisters on both heels and nagging aches in assorted places. At least I don’t have to worry about my spider veins because the fishnet stockings provide sufficient camouflage. The girls planned well there.
TUESDAY, MARCH 11: This morning I put “Louie, Louie” on the CD player and gyrated up and down the hall. I never have had a problem with rhythm, it’s just that simultaneously moving/breathing is more difficult now than it used to be. We’re to dance for 2 minutes in front of the judges’ stand at the Governor’s Mansion. Marg says I shouldn’t worry--the cabana boys will have wet cloths and smelling salts.
Chances are good hubby G-Man will continue to refuse to be a lowly cabana boy. In my opinion, the silly man just needs to grow up.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12: No time [puff] to write [puff, puff] any more about this [puff] till after the parade. Have to stay on [puff] this treadmill [pufffff] . . .
Addendum -- The 2003 parade, all 600 miles of it (or so it seemed), is over. My spray-on tan is fast fading. My purple nail polish is chipped. Purple eye liner and stick-on tattoo are long gone. I’m but a shadow of my Struttin’ Strumpet self, but there’s joy in my heart.
For one solid weekend I was a rootin’ tootin’ middle-aged queen . . . and I won’t soon forget it. A follow up will follow up.
Queen Wannabe Yearns For Worldwide Parade
BIO: Beth Boswell Jacks, editor of USADEEPSOUTH.COM, is the author of 3 books. She also writes a personal essay/humor column for several Deep South newspapers and is a member of both the Mississippi and Louisiana Press Associations.
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