Saturday, March 26, 2011

Throw Open the Drapes!

Oh. My. Stars. I've just had an epiphany. A revelation. A break-through in understanding my oh-so-strange self.

Early this morning I posted a funny piece about being recognized this week by a reader solely because of the crazy hat I was wearing (see my writer's blog: I closed by asking my three readers if they thought my hats could possibly be my brand, since the buzz these days from my editor is that every writer needs a brand (something to set him/her apart from the herd).

I got some great responses but one in particular made my jaw drop, my heart pound and my wide-open eyes finally see something I haven't been able to see for 40 years. No kidding. I felt like somebody pulled up the shades of my brain and light finally beamed into a corner that's been dark most of my life.

Okay. Here's what happened.

A childhood school chum, Vicki, responded to my hat question with a question of her own: "Just curious - are you the daughter that didn't remember to brush her hair? I started carrying a brush in my purse after your mom (my teacher at the time) told our health class how important it was to keep your hair brushed. She said she had a daughter that she always had to remind of this ... was it you?"

I was suddenly transported back to middle school and relived in writhing agony a memory I had apparently blocked soon after it happened. I was a gorky sixth grader at the time and was quietly slipping into Mama's classroom to stick something - I don't remember what - in her purse. I was tip-toeing and holding my breath, trying so hard not to draw attention to myself while she was up front teaching.

Suddenly, she stopped her hygiene lecture cold and told everyone to turn around and look at my hair as an example of "poor grooming habits." They were 7th graders - a whole year older than me - and of course I didn't know any of them, so I was absolutely mortified. And horror of all horrors, there were at least ten boys in that room. I ducked my head and dashed out the door just as the first giggles began to titter around the room.

Forty years later, sitting in my computer chair reliving this long-oppressed memory, my face flushed and I wanted to crawl beneath my desk. Another niggling thought made me cringe: That wasn't Vicki's class, so Mama must have told more than one of her classes. Gulp. 

But then all of a sudden the angels began singing that full-bodied, eight-note "Ahhhh" chord that means something important just happened and the light bulb popped on in my head. THAT's why I have a hat fetish! Now I get it! I've never been able to explain to my family why I keep wearing those confounded " embarrassing" hats that my kids used to beg me to hide when their friends were around. Why I just have to buy every cute and perky hat I see. Why my closet looks like the Cat in the Hat exploded.

What an "Ah-ha" moment!

One of my deepest mysteries is now uncovered. Revealed. Divulged. And it makes me wonder how many more of my quirky behaviors result from some squirreled away childhood incident.

Righty then. Now that I've spilled my guts, I want to sift through some of your guts too! How about it? Are you brave enough to go there? What odd little behaviors can you trace back to your past? Maybe something you remember your grandmother doing or a comment your dad made that changed the way you look at things. C'mon, dig deep.

Don't fret - I'll keep thinking too. The next goofy behavior I want to understand is why I put salt on my watermelon.

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