On occasion the day in and day out of farm life took its tole; even my grandmother got restless once in a while. It was in those times she would utter the words I dreaded to hear....the ladies are coming for a party.
Morning dawns as soft light slips through the bedroom window; gauzy curtains float gently with the cool breeze. Her hands and mine bring together the pieces of a farmhouse breakfast. Frying sausage is a least favorite thing for me..I hate the way the grease pops and stings; ouch! But the eggs finally do me in...the sight of runny yolks swimming in the greasy sizzling skillet makes me gag. Set the table then and hurry up! Her sharp tone alerts me deep within...something is up...today something will be different.
After the start of day chores are behind us an unusual box hits the counter: tulle and ribbon, tiny white baskets and fancy mints..a can of nuts and dainty tea cups. Now I am starting to panic. It won't be long until I hear them..those words I dread. The ladies are coming for a party. A party..oh, no.
I know what those words mean...dresses and doilies, 'proper' manners and fancy dishes, being clean with you hair all in place...it means food you can't eat and dainty things you can't play with..no fidgeting and no talking. It means...I'm doomed! Yes, I'm sent to get cleaned up, dressed up, slicked down and reminded..my stomach churns as my heart drops. The ladies are coming for a party.
In a flurry of chatter and fragrance they arrive; best dresses and red lipstick, hair 'just so' and shiny 'pocket books'. Self consciously I watch them from the corner of the kitchen doorway... if only I could be invisible. My grandmother (who doesn't look like herself at all today..powder and lip paint?) startles me with a call to action; I am to serve the treats and drinks. You have got to be kidding.. did she forget how clumsy I am; that I spill everything...and that she told me a dozen times to stay clean? Nevertheless, my shaky hands take the tray as I hesitantly tread where no respecting farm girl dare tread.
The gushing, cheek pinching and red lip mark kisses are more than I can handle. The very second those cups are served and the pretty white baskets of nuts and mints frilled with tulle and ribbon are passed out I make a break for it. Breaking out the door, shedding shoes and ribbons like shackles, my spirit soars over sun warmed prairie grass. Down the gravel drive to the old gas pump where my bike is waiting...freedom! I'm off to find a favorite place..any one of them (there are so many)..ah, yes..the dark old barn...perfect! In no time at all I start to feel like myself...barefoot, sun-kissed, straggly braids...sweet redemption. Well, at least until the next time I hear those dreaded words.
Yes, it's true. I despised parties. In my young mind they robbed me of the comfort and routine of my beloved farm life; the plain and simple days of work; the livestock and gardens...fields and equipment.. that accepting life style I was so comfortable with. To this day, my discomfort for social gatherings remains as does my love for the barefoot, sun-soaked farm life...messy braids and all!