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GALLOPIN’ GRANDMA: Who you callin’ wholesome?
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – When we were little girls we all wanted to be Shirley Temple. She was cute, rich, famous, had great clothes and lived in Hollywood. I am sure she didn’t want to be us with our hand-me-down clothes and lack of cuteness, but we just knew that a life of glamour and fame awaited us, if we could only figure out how to get it.
My mother wasn’t much of a housekeeper, but she was good with a hammer and a saw and made some of our furniture. I never wanted friends to play at our house because it had an extremely lived-in look. One day I went to a friend’s house and came face to face with a vision of true elegance, a vision that has informed my life.
The house was lovely with real furniture that had not been whacked together by someone’s mother. There were no cigar butts, six-day-old coffee cups and old newspapers littering everything, and no cat and dog hair attached to every surface. Best of all, they had a real coffee table and on this table was an object of true glamour, a crystal dish with candy with not one person eating out of it. It was candy as décor, as a social statement. No one was standing around with his or her hand in a bag of candy, throwing wrappers on the floor. It was a vision I never forgot.
Years passed and while I wanted to look like Ava Gardner, I didn’t. One day, someone told my mother that I looked “wholesome.” Wholesome is for cows and even they don’t like it. It is a known fact that teenage girls want to look like cheap sluts. There is plenty of time to be wholesome.
It is also a fact that wholesome girls don’t get asked out much and when the prom came along, a couple of friends bludgeoned some poor victim into asking me out. My mother suggested that I make my own prom dress and she had just the perfect fabric. She gave me about 100 yards of red, white and blue polka dot material. So I made it, and it was cute with a big full skirt, ruffles, lace and ribbons. I would have fit right in with the cast of Oklahoma.
On prom night we all marched into dinner. All the girls had pretty prom dresses and there I was in a polka dot circus tent. I was mortified but I was wholesome, like a loaf of Wonder Bread.
Later, I went out to the county farm to see Gertrude, the big mamma pig. We were friends for many years and had much to share. I told her about my prom disaster and how I was afraid I would never be glamorous. She told me that she could put on a dress and go to a hundred proms and she would still be a pig, so I should just be happy with what I was. As a warning, she told me about her cousin who left home to have fun and wound up in a can of Spam. Now that’s wholesome.