Today I was driving between schools and listening to an interview with Sarah Silverman on NPR. Sarah told the story of being a chronic bed wetter as a child. It was a secret she didn’t want to get out, so at sleepovers she never slept, instead she’d spend the night pinching herself to stay awake.
On one memorable occasion a group of girls was invited to an impromptu slumber party. Sarah recalled she had to borrow pajamas and a sleeping bag from the hostess, as did the rest of the attendees. For some reason that night Sarah slept deeply and awoke the next morning to a sopping wet sleeping bag and drenched pjs. She quickly changed out of her pjs and left them beside the sleeping bag and went on as if nothing had happened. Then the Mom came in, took a look at the wet things and roared, “Who would do something like this?” Just as Sarah was about to raise her hand and take the blame her friend’s dad came running into the room.
“Elvis just died!” he exclaimed, thus saving little Sarah from major embarrassment and perhaps social death as everyone forgot about the wet bedclothes in their grief over the King’s untimely demise.
Sarah’s story reminded me of a time between my fourth and fifth grade years. A friend, “JB,” had invited me to Baptist church camp located about 25 miles from Floydada in the Texas panhandle. It was a sleepover camp and most of the girls had attended before. I, however, was totally unprepared.
Mom wasn’t sure what to pack for me. We had to have several dresses for daily services along with suitable pants (no shorts!) for hiking in the canyon. I must have grown taller that summer because all of my dresses bordered on being too short. I was just becoming aware of the differences in the “haves” and “have nots.” And, while most of the girls at camp were from the former category, including JB, I was firmly ensconced in the latter.
Judging from the looks I got from adults during morning services I was not dressed appropriately for camp. Someone must have mentioned this to my friend’s mom because she brought out two dresses that she’d made just for me the next day. They sort of fit me, if gunny sack was a fit, but most importantly they were suitably LONG. I remember trying them on for JB’s mom in the dormitory while the other girls were at crafts.
“Well,” she said. “You’re never going to be a beauty, but at least you can be modest.”
I looked up the word “modest” when I got home from camp:
1. Unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements.
2. (Of an amount, rate, or level of something) relatively moderate, limited, or small.
Talk about a blow to one’s blossoming self-esteem! I’d already pretty well determined that my beauty was going to be more of the inner rather than the outer kind, but she also wanted me to be limited or small. Screw that!
I wish I’d had the guts then to tell her thanks, but no thanks for the dresses. I wish I’d worn my too short skirts and basked in my immodesty. Instead I kept my mouth closed and suffered the giggles of the other campers for the remainder of camp.
Elvis, I’m glad you didn’t die that day, but a distraction would have been nice.
Peace, People (and, thank you, thank you very much)!