Tuesday, March 13, 2007

No Dancing for Me! Part I

Ten Saturday morning bake sales, five Saturday afternoon car washes, three Sunday afternoon trips into the woods to collect pickup-loads of walnuts to sell at the mill. We’ve worked nearly every weekend for five months and it all adds up to this: a live band for the Christmas dance. Not just a band but the band of our dreams: The Lavendar Hill Mob from Springfield.

We get by with local bands for Homecoming and the dance we hold after the Athletic Banquet in the spring. In the real world, those dances would be given by the school or at least held there. But here at the epicenter of the Bible Belt, the shiny silver Rodeo-champion buckle itself, we aren’t allowed to dance in school. We don’t play cards, we can’t enter the contests on the backs of cereal boxes (Enter and Win an all-expenses-paid, 10-day vacation to DisneyWorld. Void where prohibited by law and in Missouri), and we don’t dance in school.

Luckily, Rainbow Girls, an organization for the daughters of Masons or the members of Eastern Star, is not part of the school. Our ancient Eastern Star advisor is mostly deaf and never sure exactly what we’re up to. We wake her at the end of each meeting and help her down the Lodge Hall stairs to the parking lot where her husband waits. No one else seems to care that we’re throwing ourselves down a greased chute to Hell, so several times a year, we pony up $50 to rent the Legion Hall, fill it with crepe-paper streamers and folded-Kleenex flowers, and invite hormonal boys to risk hellfire and damnation by dancing with us.


The Christmas dance is the highlight of our year. We spend months working and saving and planning for it. We add a Christmas tree and aluminum-foil snowflakes to the usual crepe paper and Kleenex-flower d├ęcor. This is no ordinary Christmas tree. We cut it down our very own selves. Sue Curry’s father lets us have a tree from some land he owns out south of town. Debbie and I talk Dad into letting us use his big green Ford pick-up and a handsaw.

Bundled in 14 layers of warm clothes, the three of us drive as far as we can get, then hike the rest of the way to the ridge where the big trees grow. We take turns pulling the saw back and forth until we can’t stand it anymore and then push the damn thing over to break it off. Then we haul its carcass back to the truck. No matter how many times we do this, we never learn to pick a tree we can drag easily or one we can throw over the fences between us and the truck. Instead, we choose a tree that requires a series of physics experiments to get it back to town. There are sharp words and more than a few tears. When Sue and Debbie and I finally get the tree up in the corner near the stage at the Legion Hall, we agree that it was worth all the trouble. It’s beautiful.

9 comments:

Deb said...

Hmmmm. I'm wondering where you're going with this. Not That Kind of Girl riding a greased chute to hell for dancing. Now there's a picture. You were one spunky girl who has grown into a wise woman full of spirit who tells a powerful story. I'm itchin' for the next installment.

kario said...

Same for me...tell me more, tell me more! Love the "greased chute to hell" - I can remember a few of those moments in my youth.

magicaldamselfly said...

Dance like no one is watching (especially MO)
Life is about the dance of the journey we are on and if we don't dance to our own music then we aren't alive and living fully in the present. I hired my very own live band years ago and park it in my mind and now I dance every step I take and let everyone around me try to figure out what it is I'm dancing too.
Dance on Jerri and have a ball.

Hugs,
Sheila

Mystic Wing said...

Masterful, disciplined writing.

The roll you've been on clearly continues. More, more, more.

Kim said...

Yes, absolutely, more please! Great writing, and I'm so excited to run immediately to your next post.

Prema said...

This is a great read. All of it, a great ride. Ditto, more and more. It's such a great weave of personal and cultural, maidenhood and womanhood.

Go Mama said...

"No one else seems to care that we’re throwing ourselves down a greased chute to Hell, so several times a year, we pony up $50 to rent the Legion Hall, fill it with crepe-paper streamers and folded-Kleenex flowers, and invite hormonal boys to risk hellfire and damnation by dancing with us. "

Love this!

Monica said...

Yes, have to tell you how damn funny "greased chute to hell" is. Oh my god, I laughed so hard.

This has such a great tone to it. I love these pieces. You're recreating such a specific, unique time. Wonderful.

Nancy said...

Reading back on your site- I was "on break" when all of this was written. I love love love this. Can't wait to read the rest!