In my early twenties
I had a penchant for purple eye shadow.
I owned nearly every shade of it.
Some with sparkle, some dark as the night.
I clothed my eyes with it daily.
There was an older woman who played the piano
at the Senior Center while the rest of the Seniors
gobbled down their spaghetti suppers
She bluntly asked me:
"Darling, what's wrong with y'all's eyes?
Are they diseased or somethin'?
They sure-nuf look to be coated with thickly spread plum jam."
At first, I was taken aback.
But, immediately recalled how older folks
had quirky habits and ways of speaking
and were guileless as children.
Whatever was present in their minds,
out it would come,
regardless of any end result or
I opted to take none.
But another octogenarian soon rallied to
take up my cause.
She was the other piano player who came for spaghetti suppers.
Right then she was the gal unhappily unseated at the bench.
"Haven't you ever worn make-up,
Mizz Masie Jean Harvey?
You sure could use a bit sprucing up.
And ain't that an indecent way of talking
to the boss's daughter?
Have you done forgot your manners
or were you really raised in the barn
on that farm y'all grew up on?"
I knew this was more about the piano
playing privileges and not my eyelids.
These two well-seasoned women
capable of loudly playing
any requested song completely by ear
where head-locked in competition
for my Mother's good graces
and the right to play during the
weekly spaghetti hour.
A small privilege
but one held dear for one who
was older and didn't have much
going on in each of their
prospective social calendars.
Friday spaghetti supper and
piano and bingo was an event
at the Fargo Depot.
"Well, Arlene, I ain't one to ever get all tarted up
like you do...!"
responded the lady with the more old-fashioned ideals
and perceived more sensitive nature.
"Well, you could use a bit of polish and paint.
It might be a vast improvement in the general scenery."
retorted the woman living fully in the present.
It nearly came to blows with heavily-laden handbags
until Mother intervened and let one of the women
spin the cage and call for bingo numbers.
How fortuitous that her card won blackout
and the big prize at the end of the afternoon.
Mother said it was often this way on Fridays
when there was a full house for spaghetti
and song requests on the piano.
Those two old gals were rivals-
each as different as the other could be.
Dorothy wore a 50's dress, carried gloves, and a
ginormous black patent handbag with her knitting paraphernalia
oozing out from between the ball clasps.
Arlene wore her granny square fringed poncho
culottes, moccasins or suede booties.
She also loved to wear powder blue eye shadow, coral lipstick,
and occasionally false eye shadows
which were always a bit off center,
giving her the appearance of retro 1970's
Mae West Ostrich.
I could see her saying to someone after
a lusty turn at the piano,
"Why don't you come up and see me sometime?"
The next time I returned to Fargo
to visit Mother at The Depot
Arlene was seated at the piano
happily playing a jaunty honky-tonk.
On her eyelids she wore metallic plum eye shadow.
I grinned ear-to-ear.
Arlene got a serious hug.
She smiled back and winked at me.
wanted to remember these two old gals and my Mom-ma
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for accepting people as they present themselves and their views
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Meloo Straight From Her Tilt-a-World
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