Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Oh boy, I can't wait to see you with your newly-sewn dress and head-dress. I will be taking pictures for sure! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 9:51 PM  

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Thursday, March 30, 2006  

Oh that costume. Sigh.

I can find all sorts of excuses for not doing something I think I want to do. Oh! I suddenly remembered the quintessential image of TheQueen as APrincess - the one the whole family drags out of the past to both ridicule (in the way families do, not tortuously) and exemplify the InnerQueen.

Swimming lakes were the thing when I was a girl. Swimming pools fell into the realm of the Country Club Set, not struggling civil servants with 4 kids. There were at least 2 and maybe more, around Richmond back in the 1950’s. The one we went to was Overhill Lake and the promise of going to Overhill lake was enough to ensure juvenile good behavior for long stretches of summer afternoons. In my memory it was a vast watery playground with a sandy bottom, water shallow enough to be safe, sliding boards in graduated sizes and a huge hillside beach house with changing rooms and a refreshment stand.

I am second in the line-up of kids, with an older sister who was so big and so grand and so smart and so brave and so much more it was a job even thinking about keeping up with her, much less trying to. To top it off, she is a Leo, boldly plunging ahead with regal disdain for the minions around her, so long as they didn’t touch her stuff. (I did, you may be sure, all the time, in secret and in the open.) It was she who could climb the Mt. Everest of a sliding board and whisk like a meteor into the murky depths of the grown-up section of that lake - where surely whales and sharks and sea chests full of treasure lay. How I watched with pride and envy as her pink suit flashed down the silver path into the sparkling water.

There was a smaller sliding board in the kiddy pool, not a lot taller than the ordinary backyard sliding boards, although much sturdier. It had the grey sheen of school yard equipment and as such, carried with it a certain big kid’s cachet. Little me, timid me, careful, foreseeing, thoughtful me, the girl with both imagination and intuition, longed to emulate TheGreatOne on the dangerous Chute of Silver, but there was something very scary about those sliding boards that threw you into lakey depths. I spent many days tiptoeing around those stout pillars supporting the flat metal tray, angling down from on high, but I never did succumb deeply enough to envy to give it a try.

The summer I was 4, though, one of Daddy’s sisters visited with her husband. AuntE was a very strange lady - I suspect she told me once that she was a witch, for I was sure that she not only knew the dark arts, but that if she ever got me alone she would pop me in the oven and cook me. Her husband, a big band trumpet player, was the most loving and cuddling man and it was many and many years before I could reconcile the anomaly of such a sweet loving man marrying a witch. There is a family home movie of me and TheGreatOne visiting them - first we are playing outside, then I am running away from AuntE. It looks like a cute little girl, maybe kindergarten age, playing tag with a grownup. It’s not. It’s stark terror fleeing certain doom. The next scene cuts to me snuggled in UncleB’s arms, safe at last. Later I developed some real affection for that woman, but the summer I was 4 I steered clear of her as much as possible.

She also teased me about being afraid of the sliding board and, in the way people who grew up in very big, very aggressive and very competitive families are, her teasing was pretty brutal. Just think of those Little Rascals movies and you’ll understand the milieu from which she drew her skills. Irish Catholic immigrants scrounging around urban alleyways and scrapping on black top school yards. In the end my pride was stung and step by step, as if walking to my execution, I climbed up the ladder and prepared to zoom into death by drowning. White knuckled, I gripped the edges of the sliding board and inch by inch I not so much slid down, but progressed down to the bottom of the sliding board.

Safe at last I hopped off the end into water that came up to a 4 year old’s waist. How was I to know that engineers had designed, brawny men and constructed, and insurance companies had confirmed so that the odds of death by drowning off the end of a sliding board were small enough to open that lake to the public? Grown-ups don’t tell you things like that. They just call you a sissy and a chicken and shame you into doing what you wanted to do all along.

They also capture it on 8 mm film, to be hauled out periodically and laughed at. When I see those films now my heart fills with softness and tenderness for that little girl. I don’t resent the stupid aunt either, since I had truly made that sliding board into a terror for me. Mostly I still feel the triumph of conquering fears and achieving heart’s desire.

I never did go down that big sliding board. My mother did not swim and was seldom in the mood to go somewhere that involved deep water. She also forbade me, at that age, to go into the deep water and we moved away from that neighborhood a year or so later. I went on to have other scary water experiences as well as to learn to swim well enough to not drown. I am still fascinated and lured and repelled by deep water. I also still have enough imagination to picture many worst case scenarios long before I embark upon a project, journey or task. It’s as if once I can come to terms with the worst that can happen, I can move forward, but while they linger on the fringes of my imagination, they can effectively stop me from doing the things I want to do.
So. What is all this about?

Ha! MEMEMEMEMEME, of course. TheQueen who was flabbergasted, last night, as she tied the large soft fringy shawly scarf thing that BH gave her for her birthday last fall into the perfect headdress to cover up a thoroughly 21st century hairstyle in a most 15th century way, so that when she does make that costume she won’t look an anomaly but she doesn’t either have to grow long long hair! Who knew that had been giving me such a hard time, from deep within my subconscious, effectively stopping me from making that costume?

As kind M said in the comments section a day or so ago - I really could knock this costume out in a few hours. Even the pattern says so - "The 2 hour dress" - it called itself. And so, there is every expectation that I shall be in costume when I go to Bedford next weekend, first to perform for CousinC’s class and the following day to do the same at the Spring Fiber Festival.

posted by Bess | 6:50 AM