Puttin’ Wheels On The Pumpkin, Just This Once

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I was never the cheerleader, never a beauty queen. My sister was all of those things. If anyone even breathed the word “pageant” she was there with her shirley temple curls, fully made up face, and head just itching for a tiara.

While she was doing that, I was reading practically everything Beverly Clearly ever wrote. Later on, she moved on to bigger pageants and boyfriends and I moved on to Emily Dickinson, Rainier Rilke, and the school literary magazine.

In my teenage snark I used to refer to myself as “the literate child” in the family.

There was nothing remarkable about me, nothing that would cause me to stand out if your glance swept around the room, and like most folks in that boat I had a tendency to wear that badge with a bit of self pitying pride.

My first day of high school I remember being a ball of excitement and nerves. I had a new pink shirt, it was beautiful. I wore it with new acid washed jeans and new white reeboks and jewelry my friend Mary Anne and I had picked out at Claire’s Boutique in the mall. Showing up at school Mary Anne was there to greet me and we set off on our first day of our wonderful new high school lives.

I went into my first class, still walking on a cloud of confidence and hope, and sat down in a desk in front of one of the Tate twins. Under his breath, but loud enough for me to hear, he uttered a word I can’t even repeat here to put me right back in my place. It started with the word “fat” and I’ll leave the rest unsaid.

Boy, did that deflate my cloud.

I grew to have a group of very close knit friends throughout high school, good hearted kids who didn’t fit into any mold or click. We were the ragtag group of folks made up of kids from every imaginable high school social class-and it was wonderful.

I never really tried to fit in elsewhere, partly because I didn’t care to and partly because I figured if I ever tried it wouldn’t work for me anyway. On the other hand, I am also blessed with a contentment. I know me and I’m confident in that. I like me where I am and who I am right now, jeans and t-shirts, loafers and hairspray. My too-thin lips and the hump in the bridge of my nose were all designed with care and make up me. The too soft heart that causes me to avoid funerals and weddings at all costs, and the ability to go from zero to ecstatic in .02 seconds are all part of the master plan.

I’m who I am supposed to be and the rich experiences of my life have built me up to be able to fill the shoes I wear today.

But sometimes, we gotta go out on a limb, for whatever reason, and see if we can’t add a little something else.


I’ve been churning stomach acid for two weeks over this because I really don’t wanna do that. I’m not cinderella and I know this coach is just a pumpkin but I’m about to put wheels on this sucker anyway, just for tonight.

You see, my husband’s company has a semi formal Christmas party every year. It is a big whooha and I’ve managed to avoid it for the past twelve Christmases. Well, this year I can’t hardly avoid it anymore. Ricky asked nicely, I defiantly told him if I went he’d have to foot the bill for a dress, he coughed up money, I had to eat my words and go shopping.

I took Bradybug with me and as he waited outside the dressing room while I tried on the first of many dresses, imagine my surprise when I discovered….a waist.

I had no idea I even had one. I’ve certainly never seen it before as I don’t wear form fitting clothes. There it was, plain as day, not thirteen inch or anything drastic mind you, but a waist just the same.

I showed Brady the dress and he responded immediately with what had been my second thought “It kinda shows a lot of skin Ma”

He was right. It was sleeveless. I have worn something sleeveless once in my entire life and it was the most uncomfortable day of my life. We were in Florida on vacation, Brady was two. I had a sleeveless t shirt and thought “I’ll wear it just this once. I’m sure I won’t run into anyone I know”

I spent the entire day glancing nervously around as if I was secret service and someone was after the president.

Never wore that again. Not that I have anything against sleeveless-It’s just not me.

After ten or so dresses, I came across one that I loved. I looked in the mirror and had to introduce myself to the confident Jane Russelesque woman who looked back at me, complete with waist (During my literary years I also watched an awful lot of American Movie Classics). It was sleeveless of course (because, goodness knows a dress designed to be worn in the middle of winter must use as little fabric as possible ~eyeroll~) but a quick black satin bolero jacket remedied that.

I looked and wondered if I dared. It was tasteful, but confident. It was deep red. It was so very different from that time Ramona Quimby got new flannel pajamas and felt they were so comfy that she wore them to school underneath her clothes.

It wasn’t me, yet it was.

I bought it.

Now to see if I have the courage to wear it.

I’ll update this post tomorrow with a photo if I do.


I went, we had fun, we stayed til it was over at ten, I was yawning by eight o clock. Surprised at how many folks I knew there.

This is Amanda. She and I have known each other since elementary school. We used to sleep over at each others houses when we were girls!

This is the dress I told you about. I added the jacket and a black cami/tank and am soooo glad I did. I was actually comfortable rather than self conscious all night because of them!

This is Ottis. Back in our younger days we went to church together and our group of twenty something singles was very tight knit. This was during the hey day of the “Friends” tv series and I gotta tell ya, our friends made those characters look like they’d just met. We talked about how great it would be to get the original group together again now that we’re all married with families.

This is me and Ricky. I surprised him with the black shirt and red tie. I told him it was important that we looked like we had at least met randomly before we went together! lol This was our first night out without kids in several years.

Okay, so here I am. Self portrait, in the ladies room because where else can I get a self portrait?

It was fun. I MAY even go again next year, we’ll see. Once again, I’m immensely impressed by the character of the company my husband works for. We got to spend some time talking to one of the heads of the company and I honestly think you’d be shocked at finding a company this large with such strong family values and integrity.

Companies like that do exist, just so ya know. 🙂

Truly, I need you to know and realize this: The world is full of good people just like you, absolutely brimming over with them. It’s just that the ugly folks are louder than us. Don’t mistake lack of volume for lack of population. We just gotta come out from the woodwork and shine our lights in order to be counted. It’s so easy to make a difference in someone’s life and a simple smile or word of encouragement is all it takes. How many lives can you change today? You’ve already affected one…

Thank you for all of your encouragement. Love you.




  1. I just found this post for the first time. It was hidden away in the “pumpkin” search. How sweet and humble you are. So glad you found your waist and confidence. You looked fantastic and so did Ricky. I hope you went every year after that as well.

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