What I Would Tell Her
She's cute, isn't she?
In that awkward, poise-challenged, I
don't quite know what I'm supposed to do with my hands
The Fourth of July
1970, and she's dressed in her Miss Fire Prevention finery: cheap
rhinestone tiara, red velvet cape, Sunday School dress, pristine white
gloves. Plus she's wearing her very first pair of nylons, a fact that
has her feeling both sophisticated and terrified. (It took her a month
to convince Grandma that she was old enough to wear them, and then
another month to save up the $1.98 to buy them. Now she's scared to
death that she's
going to ruin them.) In a couple of hours she'll be riding an antique
fire engine down the main streets of Burien, along with Fire Marshall
Patterson, Mrs. Fire Marshall Patterson, Sparky The Fire Dog and Smokey
The Bear (in reality, two hapless local firefighters drafted to walk
around in fur costumes in the middle of the hottest summer on record)
as part of the local Fourth of July Parade.
what I would tell
her, if I could.
it's OK to relax and smile, first of all: she looks just fine.
(Although she should probably not plant her feet so far apart if she's
going to wear nylons and high heels: she looks like she's posing for a
high school wrestling team photo.) I would tell her she can quit
whether or not her dad will show up in time for the parade: he will.
he'll take her and her brother out for Frenchie Burgers and a movie at
the Midway Drive-In.) I would tell her that this is going to be
one of the best
nights of her young life, and that she should try and squeeze every
molecule of fun out of it, because evenings like this one will come
fewer and further between, the older she gets.
would tell her that as
soon as the picture-taking session is over, she should walk across the
lawn and give the photographer a great big hug.
what I wouldn't
tell her: I wouldn't tell her that in two weeks her dog is going to get
hit by a car and killed, and that it will be the worst moment of her
childhood. I wouldn't tell her that the boy she's currently pining for
-- her first real *crush* -- is going to completely ignore her for the
next five years. (And that by the time he finally gets around to asking
her out, she won't be interested anymore.) I
wouldn't tell her that
junior high school isn't going to be the Malt-Shop-and-Clearasil Fun
Fest she thinks it's going to be: that in fact it's going to be
three years of adolescent hell on earth. I wouldn't tell her that those
Marcia Brady pigtails make her look like a dork. I wouldn't tell her
that she'd better not get used to wearing a crown. I wouldn't tell her
that someday she will find herself drunk and semi-naked in the basement
of Fire Marshall Patterson's house. I wouldn't tell her that whether or
not she's aware of it, these are the final moments of her childhood.
wouldn't tell her that those brand-new nylons of hers will be shredded
within an hour.
(click to enlarge)
to throw a rock?