There are characters all around us. You know the type: folks that are unique and stand out…or make an impression on us for one reason or another. Pure gold for a writer! This will be a series that I’ll revisit every few weeks.
Ethel P— was the self-proclaimed hostess of the small liberal arts college where I grew up. She was retired and lived in a trailer on the edge of a small field that abutted the Science Building. Lively and eccentric (at least to us kids), she dashed around campus in stylish dresses and high heels; grey hair piled high in a bun. Full of purpose, her manner was brusque and no-nonsense, tempered with a sharp sense of humor.
No doubt she accomplished a lot in one day.
Apparently she had studied ballet at some point in her long life, because my sister and I were invited over for a ballet lesson. I loved to dance, and visions of graceful leaps and twirls floated through my imagination. Perhaps this would be the beginning of a new hobby, eventually leading to a pretty outfit and toe shoes. I could hardly wait!
At the appointed hour, we met Mrs. P in front of her trailer in the shade of a large oak. She was wearing a black leotard and ballet slippers, but no tights—due, I suppose, to the summer heat—which under most circumstances would be fine. However, the grey body hair protruding out from the edges of her leotard was a bit much for a pre-teen. My excitement was eclipsed by embarrassment for an old lady who was leading us in deer-like leaps through the parched, brown grass.
That was the extent of my ballet career.
Mrs. P was one of those “real-life” characters who continues to live in my memory in a file marked “Fond.” And who knows? She just might take a “deer-leap” into one of my stories someday.