A journalist observes life in the far north.
When we were kids, my mom enrolled my sister and me in charm school.
We attended the poor kids’ version of charm school, sponsored by Sears and Roebuck.
The weekly classes were supposed to teach us how to sit and walk and act like a lady.
The climax was a fashion show in the clothes of our choosing from Sears’ selection of merchandise. I love clothes. Always have.
Now, my sister was born with charm and grace. She probably drank her baby bottle with a pinky sticking out.
By the time I came along, it seems my mom had used up all of the charm she had to give. I have the poise of a roadie for Aerosmith.
I’ll never forget the first day of class when we were asked to walk across a stage and sit in a chair so the instructors could evaluate us.
My sister floated across the stage on some kind of ethereal cloud and lowered herself into the chair like she was New York high society.
There was no way I could attain that and I knew it. I weighed more than my sister, who is five years my senior. It’s hard to float across a stage when you’re sporting a muffin top.
Also, my sister’s blonde hair and golden tan fit the ideal for good looks in the Midwest, where we grew up. She was like a mini Farrah Fawcett. I had big feet and freckles.
People were drawn to my sister’s personality. She was a cheerleader, class president and a contender for homecoming queen.
I can be prickly sometimes. I was the editor of the school newspaper.
I decided that instead of being the pitiful younger sister who, try as she might, could never attain the sort of aplomb that came naturally to her older sister, I would do a good job of being awkward and clumsy and sloppy. I would stand out by mastering the art of the unladylike.
So I traipsed across the stage like a Clydesdale and flung myself into the chair. I think the instructors were shocked.
I don’t know how I survived the class. My mom probably told me that I had to get with the program or I was out. I wanted to finish so that I could pick out any outfit that I wanted and be in the fashion show.
The only thing I remember from that class is practicing walking with a book on my head. I can still do that very well.