My mom made it quite known to me after I had children that she didn’t believe in bragging about her children. Well, Mom, that was obvious. All I was doing was calling her to tell her both of the kids made it to the state social studies fair. I mean, that was an awesome feat that siblings could win the local and then county Social Studies fair. And since she lived two hours away, she would not have know about any of this.
Regardless, I had to hear her tear me down one more time. “Vickie, I think that’s great. You know, you three kids did a lot when you were little, but I never believed in bragging.” No, no you didn’t mom. Well, except when it came to my stomach.
Now, you have to understand that I really didn’t excel at much. I didn’t play a musical instrument. I did try out for our junior high band, if that is what you want to call it, but they just refused to hand me a clarinet or flute or whatever the hell I wanted to learn to play. We had to take a music test of some sort and I really couldn’t hear the difference in tone. I was a tone deaf clarinet challenged retard. It was just another test that I flunked. Like the early entrance test to start school early.
I did win a safety slogan contest when I was in fourth grade and even got a little trophy. That was a big deal. I think my mom came up with the slogan though. I’m not sure. I’m just saying that to continue on with my “I really didn’t excel at much” scenario.
I wasn’t much on selling stuff to win contests in our Bluebird and Campfire Girls troop. I absolutely hated going door-to-door and asking people if they wanted to buy goddamn light bulbs or magazines or even candles. I remember the candle drive. I think I went to five houses and each lady of the house bought something, but I just was tired of that bullshit and went home. I was actually doing pretty well, but I just wasn’t into it. Thank goodness I didn’t have to collect money during the sale, because then I would have had to follow through with it.
My best friend won a selling contest and got to wear a Clorox bottle crown, sit in the front row and hold flowers. I was happy for her because she sold a shit load of whatever we were selling. It wasn’t for me, so I just smiled for the picture as a loser in the back row. Not that the other girls were losers in the back row. Sorry, MaryLou. Talking about me, not you.
So, no, I didn’t excel at much and my mom didn’t brag about me too much….until summer time rolled around.
I don’t know what it was in my neighborhood, but for some reason we liked to lay out in the sun. Like all the time. If we weren’t at the pool, we were laying out. And I laid out on our back patio on a towel. On the concrete. You’d think that my parents would buy some porch furniture for the back, but they never did. That just dawned on me right now. I know my mom always said that the sun didn’t like her and she rarely sat outside, well, because there was no place to sit. We had one lawn chair on our front porch and that was it. So, I laid out on a towel.
The summer after I was a freshman in high school was the summer of my great tan. I was quite dark. I mean, like really dark. And my stomach for some reason was the darkest. I had a little egg timer and would roll over when it would ding. I was like frying my body. Would think that I would look like a piece of leather or a shriveled up raisin now that I am in my fifties. Oh contrare. I still look quite young. Well, that is what my fourth graders tell me. They think I am 30. …brown nosing little shits.
So, whenever my mom and dad would have company or one of her women friends stopped by for coffee, gossip, and cigarettes, my mom always called me into the kitchen.
“Vickie, show her your stomach.”
“Lift up your shirt and show her your stomach.”
Um, ok. I would lift up my little summer shirt to reveal my stomach. And my mom would then laugh and say something different each time, depending on who was sitting there, sharing her coffee.
“Now is that a Florida tan or what?”……………..”Look how dark she is.”……………”Have you ever seen anyone so dark?”………………….”I know. She looks almost like a black person.”………….”And she puts baby oil on her stomach.”………………….”and it really doesn’t fade…………”
She didn’t care what I was doing. If we had company and it was summer time, I knew at some point I would be raising my shirt. “Vickie!…..Vickie!!…….Come up here!…..” I wished she didn’t have friends.
So, the bragging began. No, it wasn’t for being smart as there weren’t any A+ papers on the refrigerator. No, it wasn’t for winning a slogan contest or for even singing Are you Sleeping, Brother John in front a whole auditorium of Campfire Girls or memorizing everyone’s line during the church Christmas play. No, my mom bragged about my stomach tan.
You’d think that with the invention of tanning beds that I would still be a fool for a tan. When I did have a pool,I had a tan, but it was a SUN tan. Those tanning beds are not the same thing. My sister has a sun tan business and about 12 beds in her place. I laid in it one time years ago, and felt like I was in a damn coffin. It just wasn’t for me. I am more of a plant me under the sun kind of gal, and haven’t done that for a few years. When I go to the beach, I head under an umbrella after a while as I guess “the sun doesn’t like me” anymore.
Shit. I’ve become my mother.