|God, President Kennedy and Me (page 2)|
Making out with Jean Paul
When I look back, I realize that I didnt really have to win that contest to take up more than my share of space in the high school yearbook. Id been a dismal failure in junior high school. Partially because I got a bad reputation when I made out with Jean Paul Mathieu, the French exchange student, at the Thanksgiving homecoming game, and the Vice Principal had reprimanded me right in front of everyone: You shouldnt even be wearing lipstick, much less doing what you were doing. But Jean Paul Mathieu was a foreign student, and from a very early age, foreigners were my idols. I regarded them as celebrities.
In fact, I had a fantasy of marrying three foreigners a Chinaman, a Frenchman, and a Mexican and having a baby with each one. Then the children and I would travel around and spend four months in China learning Chinese and the Chinese culture, four months in France learning French and the French culture, and four months in Mexico, et cetera.
That had been my fantasy until President Kennedy introduced the idea of the Peace Corps. Having three husbands was a beautiful fantasy. But the Peace Corps was a cross-culture dream that could come true. Anyway, girls werent even supposed to begin wearing lipstick until the second semester of seventh grade, so because of the lipstick and what I was doing with Jean Paul Mathieu people thought I was fast and cheap, and this was a school for nice girls, so I was ostracized. Now that I think of it, though, Ursula stood by me. But of course she was the one whod told me to wear lipstick my first semester even though everyone in the car pool and at Miss Sloanes Dance Class had agreed on the second semester. The point, though, is that I had a bad reputation in junior high.
|Winning friends with Dale
But in high school Id over-compensated. Id learned that success consisted of being like everybody else, only better, and God willing prettier. Id learned how not to be weird, not to look too eager. Id learned how not to dress. (Not in my wilted, smelly gym blouse just because I could never get my locker open. Not with my bobby socks crawling down into my loafers.) Id even learned how to open my locker. Id learned when to help others and when to help myself. Id read Dale Carnegies How to Win Friends and Influence People, and Id begun my negotiations with God.
| Gradually Id become socially acceptable even decent. I was DAR Girl and Chairman of Religious Emphasis Week. Id accumulated awards and been elected to school offices. Now I was a member of Executive Council and the Editor of the literary yearbook, The Rebel. This was a big turn-about for a girl whod been nominated for an office only once in junior high school and had broken out in a cold sweat because she feared the only vote shed get was that of the kid nominating her. I was right. The teacher forgot to erase the board, and I saw it with my own eyes.
Did I mention that my name is Barbara Lee Shealy?
Splendor in the grass
Ursula had told me to cut classes that day so shed have longer to work on me after all, she was cutting three days of her classes at Winthrop to come home to help me but the principal had a new policy. He saw how girls were being absent from their classes to have their hair done on the day of the beauty contest, so this year hed announced that roll would be taken, and any girl absent from any of her classes would be ineligible to compete in the Miss Greenville High School Beauty Contest. So Ursula agreed to start in on my Jackie Kennedy do right after school got out.
Before I left for school that morning, I caught my mom reading when she was supposed to be working on my dress.
Whats The Feminine Mystic about? Id asked her.
| Its Feminine Mystique, shed corrected me. Its all about the sacred feminine ideal.
Id nodded. I had a sacred feminine ideal: God willing, Id be the prettiest girl of all please, dear God, just for one night. If mother ever finished the dress! When Ursula got up, she could nag her while I was in school. Shed driven up the night before in the little Fiat Daddy bought her because he wouldnt support the re-industrialization of Germany by buying a VW, and she and I had had a little bit of time to confer on how I should walk, how I should smile, and things like that. Shed been nice until she just had to ask that question shed been taunting me with all semester.
Hows your campaign going?
You know. The one for the highest possible moral standards award?
I dont know what youre talking about.
Glenn McAteer Scholarship