Oct. 3, 2017

Regardless of height, some people are small....and mean.

I'm writing, and remembering, today. Looking backwards, we sometimes rejoice that parts of our past are over, never to be repeated. I want to share a few paragraphs that helped launch my independence, that released me from the control of others. YES... It took some rough and rocky moments to make me a Strong Woman. From my book: THE BEAUTY QUEEN.

"At the time Jack and I married, I was considered a public figure. Realizing my presence sparked envy in some, I tried to down-play my “public life”; I took bridge lessons, volunteered, anything to make me “fit in”, to appear more like a housewife. Trying hard to please Jack’s family, I left my longtime church to join the church started by Jack’s grandfather.

One Sunday, soon after I had begun attending my new church home, my father-in-law pulled me aside and asked about the fur jacket I was wearing. I proudly told him my father had bought it for me during my reign as Miss Arkansas. Without hesitating, he suggested I not wear it to church in the future, saying “It makes the wrong statement; it implies you are rich. Most of our members are lower middle class and will assume Jack bought it for you. They’ll also wonder why the other daughter-in-laws aren’t wearing extravagant furs. I prefer you “dress-down” for our little church and also for our family lunches at the country club. We are an old family in Pine Bluff and we don’t want people to get the wrong impression about our financial success.” His remarks punctured my heart like a pickaxe, making me feel shallow and superficial. I was punished--- for being me. But the “dressing down” didn’t end there.

As soon as his car reached forty thousand miles, my father bought a new car. Generous to a fault, he would take my car as his trade-in and give me his “old” car. Naturally Jack liked the idea because he never had to spend money on a family car.

That particular Sunday, after church, I walked across the street to get in my “new” car, a sporty-looking Oldsmobile Cutless. I had just opened the car door when I heard someone shout my name. Turning, I saw my father-in-law running toward me. He asked about the new car and who owned it. I tried to explain how my father would give me his old car and…. my father-in-law interrupted me, his voice charged with anger, “You’ve got to stop looking and acting like a beauty queen and start blending in with everyone. We are a conservative family and we don’t like to draw attention to ourselves. I wish you hadn’t accepted this car; everyone will think Jack bought it for you. It also makes his brothers look bad because their wives aren’t driving new cars.” Once again, my in-law’s criticism shattered my confidence and self-esteem."

It is interesting to note: After Jack and I divorced....he remarried...and my ex-in-laws gave all three daughter-in-laws identical Christmas presents. Each daughter-in-law received a full-length, black diamond mink coat.

Too bad the daughter-in-laws didn't have the good manners to thank me....the true inspiration for their "extravagant" furs.