Short Stories by Pat Nelson
304 Island Aire Drive
Woodland, WA 98674
Submitted to Dahlynn by email
Chicken Soup for the Red Hat Society Soul
November 5, 2006
I pulled my hair back into a saucy ponytail to show off the deep purple hickey on my neck. A sterling silver going steady ring on a beaded metal chain bounced up and down on my ample chest as I walked.
My white bobby socks were rolled down just-so at my ankles and my denim dungarees were rolled up to a point just below my knees.
Mary Ann picked me up in her little green Plymouth. It looked really cool with the fuzzy white dice dangling from the mirror. We turned up the radio and sang along with Doris Day to "Que Sera Sera." The dice bobbed in time to the music.
As we neared Norma Jean's house, she ran out excitedly to meet us. I opened the door and leaned forward so she could crawl into the back seat.
We headed for the birthday party, giggling and talking about boys we had dated. Mary Ann and Norma Jean commented on my hickey, and we all had a good laugh.
When we arrived, our friend Nancy greeted us at the door, her black-felt poodle skirt swishing from side to side as she moved from friend to friend. She belonged to a club made up of several girls, and they had planned this groovy bash.
Red and purple balloons decorated the tables. I placed my high school yearbook on the purple tablecloth. "I can't wait to read all the juicy comments in your annual," Mary Ann said.
"Same here," said Norma Jean.
Girls showed up at the party in all sorts of neat outfits. They visited together, admiring each other's dungarees, pleated skirts, pedal pushers, prom dresses, pep-club sweaters, and poodle skirts. I didn't know many of the girls, so my clique of three sat down and gossiped about the fashions. "Look at that pink and gray pleated skirt," commented Norma Jean. "It's darling."
"And look at that girl in the baby-blue prom dress," said Mary Ann. She looks like Cinderella."
"She doesn't look too comfortable in those spike heels, though," said Norma Jean.
"I can't wear heels like that," I said. "I couldn't wear that pretty prom dress either, without popping the seams! Oh well, it's too late to start a diet today. Let's eat." A long table held platters of sandwich meats with assorted breads and cheeses plus two kinds of salad.
After finishing our meal, I laughed until tears slid down my cheeks as Nancy and her friends performed skits. My favorite was enacted to Deirdre Flint's song, "The Boob Fairy Didn't Come for Me." The boob fairy had been generous to some of us in the crowd, and not so generous to others. The girls danced and sang along: "...though the hip fairy came two times and the thigh fairy came three, the boob fairy never came for me."
Next, Carol, a belly-dance instructor, jingled brass finger cymbals at the same time she shimmied to and fro. After showing us her talents, she introduced two of her students who performed a dance recital in costumes of yellow and bright green. Coins and beads on their magenta hip scarves tinkled exotically as their hips gyrated.
Mary Ann and I both giggled with excitement when our names were drawn for door prizes. We were having a blast.
When I walked to the serving table to pour another cup of fruit punch, I stood in line by a girl who also wore a ring on a chain around her neck. "Oh," I said, "I see you're going steady too."
"Yes, isn't it exciting? My boyfriend gave me his ring in the hall after science class. Where did you get yours?"
"At the drive-in movie," I said. "Tammy and the Bachelor was playing."
A look of disgust crossed her face. "Well, I'm not that kind of girl," she said. "I don't go to the drive-in with boys."
Pointing to my hickey, I said smugly, "That's why you don't have one of these."
"Squaresville," I muttered under my breath as I headed back to the table with my punch.
Nancy tapped a knife against her water glass to get our attention. "Let's all sing Happy Birthday."
Two hundred red-hatted girls aged 50 and over, most in 1950's attire, faced Nancy and belted out Happy Birthday in honor of the Red Hat Society's eighth anniversary.
At home that night, I put the chain and ring back into my jewelry box and applied makeup remover to the big purple splotch on my neck. Oh, I thought, how I wish hickeys would have been removable back then. I wouldn't have had to hide them under Band-Aids to keep my mother from seeing them.
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