notquiteold

Gracefully Aging – With Resistance

Not Quite Pulitzer Material

I’m swimming in awards these past two weeks.

I’ve been nominated for Versatile Blogger and Liebster Blogger by

Prairie Wisdom
sandylikeabeach
Lorna’s View
whatimeant2say
kiwsparks
Rita’s Reflections 

as well as nice mentions in blogs by RVing Girl and BigSheepCommunications.

I could get really conceited  (okay, I already AM really conceited).  But I know these compliments are due to a group of fabulous bloggers out there who are a lot like me.  We are all travelling on the same middle-aged journey (Tickets Are Nonrefundable), and we have become great friends.

A few months ago, when I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award, I made light of it (Welcome To My Ponzi Scheme).  Having run the math, it appears that it only takes five iterations of nominations before everyone in WordPress gets an award. Twice.

But, this time, I don’t want to be cynical. You know, it’s NICE that other writers like what I write. That’s WHY I write, after all.

Remember Valentine’s Day in grade school?  You got a valentine from everybody in the class, because mothers make sure their kids are nice to everyone.  But it sure felt good.  (And when Curtis did not send me a card, I was heartbroken, even though I hated Curtis. My mother assured me, however, that Curtis was very poor, and his mother just couldn’t afford to buy thirty cards.)

Which is not the point at all. Going down memory lane can be a very meandering walk.

Here’s the path I meant to go down:

When I was a senior in high school, I entered an essay contest.  I wanted to win this contest more than anything I wanted that year. (Except for wanting John H. ask me to the prom. John, it’s been forty-two years and my heart is still a little broken...)

The contest was the Voice Of Democracy. You had to write an essay on what democracy meant to you, and then record your entry as a three-minute speech.

I could write. I could write a three-hour speech for William Jennings Bryan.  But speaking myself for three minutes is a different story. (Although I love to talk. Ask anyone. I mean ANYONE.) I just hate to hear myself. I won’t go as far as to say I have a speech impediment. I just have a little trouble with my Rs. When Gilda Radner played Barbara Walters as BaBa WaWa, I was confused. I don’t hear anything wrong in Barbara Walters’ speech. She sounds normal to me.

Several kids decided to enter, and we all went to a teacher’s house one night to practice.  She was a new young teacher, full of enthusiasm who lived in a tiny attic apartment, decorated with a decidedly Greenwich Village flair. It just occurred to me how much my first apartment years later looked like this teacher’s place.  I was at her house only once; but she made an impression I guess.  (I’ll stop meandering soon.)

The next day we went to the local radio station and recorded our essays.

It was the Fall of 1968. I am an idealist to this day, and in 1968 I was a naive seventeen-year-old idealist. I preached for three minutes that Democracy meant not only the right, but the necessity to stand against your government if it is wrong. Democracy meant taking to the streets to stop an evil war.

Did I mention that the sponsor of this contest was the American Legion?

I thought I would win. I really did. I thought the veterans of the American Legion would be amazed by my argument and immediately vow to stop the war.

I didn’t win.

The winner in my school was a girl whose father was a high-ranking officer in the military. She went on to the finals in the state competition. My father was a purple-heart veteran, but I didn’t say so in my speech.

I was devastated by my loss. It had never occurred to me that my speech was not only offensive to the judges – it was just not very good. I’ve learned since that you can be as offensive as you want; the only crime in writing is poor writing.

As a senior, I was also on the Yearbook staff. I don’t remember exactly what I said to the student editor of the yearbook.  Not much, I don’t think. But Dennis obviously saw my disappointment in losing the Voice of Democracy contest.

When Dennis took the picture of the winner of the contest, the photograph was terrible. Her eyes were closed. The teacher-advisor suggested that he take the picture again.

“I took a dozen shots,” Dennis said. “She closed her eyes in every shot. If I take it again, it will just be the same.”

I kind of knew what he meant.  That girl was very blinky.

The teacher signed off on using the closed-eye picture. As she left the room, Dennis did the oddest thing. He winked at me.

Here’s the photo that Dennis took of me for the Yearbook:

Here’s the picture he took of the Voice of Democracy winner (in the same location, by the way):

Twenty-two years later, coincidentally, Dennis was the photographer at my wedding.

There is actually a point to this wandering story.

I wasn’t the best writer at seventeen. But I love to this day Dennis’ small act of loyalty.

I am still not the best writer I could be. But I love the loyalty of all my blogger friends.  Thank You.

****

P.S. I can’t resist one final meandering. In the photo above, I was wearing YELLOW tights!

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25 Comments

  1. congrats on all your awards!!! i am so happy i found your blog – you make me laugh and think every time. :o)

  2. In 1968 I was in Viet Nam, and judging by your photo, you were just yummy. Nice post, again you amuse and confuse me, but that is not all that hard to do. Congrat’s on your awards and your continued positive endeavors.

    DS

    • In all my sixty years, I have been called a lot of things… but never “yummy”! Thanks! You made my day!

  3. You always have the most wonderful way of merging the past and the present to tell a wonderful story! Makes it hard to believe there was ever a time you weren’t the fabulous write you are today! I hope you have a big trophy room.

  4. RVingGirl

    Hey girl, another terrific post. You deserved these awards, ALL of them.
    And yellow tights? Girl, you are too much like me. I had these bright yellow knees socks that my cousins from NY sent to me (Remember I lived in a tiny town in North Eastern Canada). Did I mention they were hand me downs, Second hand Rose? Anyway I loved them and made myself a bright yellow blouse to go with. I wore them everywhere. Too bad my cousins wore size ten shoes and I a size 5. I had to double them over to tuck into my shoes. ha ha
    Have a lovely day!

    • When I look at that picture, all I see is bright yellow legs! What was I thinking???

  5. I’ve become a fan too, so I’m not at all surprised that you are being inundated with awards. And this is another great post. Even though you are five years younger than me, I can relate to so much of what you write. Keep up the good work! :)

  6. p.s. I love what Dennis did.

  7. Loved the speech topic! I also enjoy the meandering asides in your blog posts because they are the funniest parts. Congrats on your awards. I would like to add Best Meandering Blogger Award to your accolades.

  8. I loved this post! We all need more friends like Dennis. I had a similar experience, minus the recording the speech at a radio station, during a statewide creative writing competition when I was 15. I’m sure I’m a much better writer now, but I’d give anything to feel as confident as I did at that age. Age 15-17 was the last time I remember “knowing everything”.

    • Isn’t it amazing how much we knew? When did I forget it?

  9. Yellow tights?? Now – that’s history!!! I think you can thank Dennis for supporting your budding writing career. And – congrats on all of those awards!

  10. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    Good work recognized…that’s always rewarding. I meandered off in this, however, to the Voice of Democracy. My older sister won that contest and went to Washington, D.C. I wonder what she wrote about. Anyone and everyone who would know or remember is now gone. Bummer!

  11. JSD

    Congratulations on well-deserved awards!

  12. Congratulations – all your awards are well-deserved!

    I had bright yellow pants with bright yellow suspenders. And my pants weren’t even hand-me-downs: I bought them myself, for $12. There was probably a lesson there – nobody upstream in the hand-me-down hierarchy had poor enough taste to buy something like that… :-)

  13. Congrats! Great story.

  14. Very funny — it’s so nice to be recognized, but it does seem a bit incestuous! I was nominated 4 times for this same award (and didn’t nominate you because I thought you had too many followers).

    You always make me laugh, and I always set aside your blog to spend an extra bit of time with. You have a unique style and perspective. Not to mention yellow tights.

  15. Congrats on your multiple awards!

    Kudos to Dennis. It just goes to show you the lasting impact a small kindness can have.

  16. pharphelonus

    All the awards are well deserved, Nancy. You are terrific.

  17. Doc

    Isn’t it amazing how small injustices stick with us over all these years. They tend to make us who we are today. Oh, and ps, poor Curtis from grade school says hello. No, he never did make a killing in the stock market, but he met a nice young woman whose father said “over my dead body” when they told him of their plans to marry and the next day conveniently died leaving the young woman a nice fortune. And Curtis benefited by marrying her before the mourning was over. They now have 3 kids- 2 boys and a Pekinese.

    • I am so glad that it turned out well for Curtis. I’m sure he didn’t mean to snub me.

  18. Graciously accepted. I would expect nothing less and a great story to boot! :)

  19. Your stories are AWESOME! :)

  20. Congrats. Another great post.

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