senior scribes

Along Life’s Way
The Long Shot
By Lois E. Wilson
At 5’9” I was taller than my 5’ grandmother and a little taller than my parents. My height hadn’t been a particular concern of mine. Then one day in the eighth grade, I was sitting at a library-style table with other students. It was study hall. In a boring moment, I stretched my legs out at the same time someone across from me stretched. Our feet tangled.
In front of the whole class, the teacher loudly asked, “Lois, are you a poet?” Not guessing her verbal trap, I answered, “No, why?” She replied, “Well, you’re an awfully Longfellow!” The class roared.
After that moment, I began to think differently about myself. Not only was I taller than most of the girls in my class, I was skinny. Since, I’ve been called gangly, a beanpole, a long drink of water, and probably worse that fortunately I didn’t hear.
My parents were both teachers; I was their only child. Like many parents, they wanted me to be happy and as near perfect as possible. For example, Mother saved up funds and took me to an orthodontist. He greatly improved my teeth alignment. Years later in a college course Mother was taking, the instructor criticized her for doing such an expensive and vain act.
What could Mother do if I felt too tall? She couldn’t shorten my legs. Ironically, my initials spelled LEG. Classmates teased me about that. She saw a newspaper ad about a fashion modeling course to be held at the Victoria Theater building in Dayton. It consisted of 8 weekly lessons. Could this be the solution? The cost of the course didn’t deter her. It was the perfect way to perfect me, and maybe she’d reap the prestige of having a daughter who is a model. We met with the promoter. He painted a picture of amazing expectations and fabulous results. She enrolled me immediately.
There were 10 of us in the class. I was the youngest. We practiced balancing books on our heads while walking down an imaginary runway. We learned to stop, smile, do a graceful pivot, return to where we had started, pivot, smile again, pivot and leave the supposed runway. The course ended with a fashion show “graduation” ceremony. We supplied our own gowns to wear and each of us received a certificate. I don’t believe any members of the class ever got one modeling job. The promoter (I’ll call him Scam) left town—richer from our enrollment fees.
The course did accomplish some positives for me: I learned to recognize a scam. I learned to put on makeup and proudly stand up straight. Mother was right. I began to think of my height as an asset. I became more comfortable in my own skin. I’m still long—long in the tooth these days. This is a problem the orthodontist can’t fix. And the skin I’m in has wrinkles which can’t be ironed out. If she were living, I’m sure my Mother would find a solution for that.
It’s consoling to know God loves me as I am—wrinkles and all. And yes, teacher, this “Longfellow” does write verse.

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