A 9 2 5 Story


My ears perked up at the familiar refrain. I turned to look at the desk behind me and saw two co-workers hunched over a phone watching a video. They are both dance-mamas and they watched a dance routine of one of their daughter’s.

“I know that song,” I said and turned to face my computer again.

Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen

pour myself a cup of ambition.

I sang along softly even though the lyrics were missing from their video.

And just like that, I thought of my own 9 to 5 story.

It occurred in the later years of my grade school timeline. My elementary school decided to have a talent show. A small group of friends and I decided to showcase some talent of lip synching. We decided the then popular Dolly Parton song would be our fake concert choice. There was even a rehearsal or two to get our performance just right.

The most un-Partonlike person of our group was chosen to impersonate the well buxomed twangy warbler…me. In grade school I was still very much a tomboy with a body image resembling more of a small boy than a girl. In other words, I wasn’t even a stick I was a twig. But I was the biggest ham in the group and so I was delegated/chosen/volunteered to become Ms. Parton. The minute details escape me now of exactly how I became Dolly.

My versatile mother came up with a plan and a costume that transformed my ungirly figure into the epitome of a woman’s figure. However, when the time came to don the costume and become Dolly I had a wardrobe malfunction. In short, the two Partonesque features so important to my transfiguration would not stay in place. Despite my teacher’s best attempts to (carefully) help, my props kept sagging.

Finally, I had to fold my left arm and keep it under the stuffing to hold everything in place. I used my right hand to hold the mic. It was show time.

As expected, when I walked onto the stage my appearance garnered the anticipated reaction of laughter.

The music started and I was in my element – performing in front of a warm audience.

I got into it and tipped my head back on the sustained notes. The crowd went crazy with laughter.

Hmmm. That’s odd.

I kept going. Another sustained note and my head went back. Again, the crowd roared.

They are loving us!

Again and again it happened. Every single time I tipped my head back the crowd’s laughter and applause thundered in our small gym.

We are awesome!

Finally the song ended and we received a standing ovation. Actually, we probably didn’t get one I just like to remember it that way.

I became known as Dolly in the school after that.

Years later I was reminiscing with an old school friend who had been there that day. She started laughing when the subject of the talent show arose.

“I still don’t get it,” I said. “Why did everyone laugh when I tipped my head back?”

“You mean you don’t know?” she asked.

No, that’s why I asked.

“Every time your head went back your chest went up,” she demonstrated by folding her left arm and tipping her head back.

Ooooh. My wardrobe malfunction fix caused an impromptu punchline.

“We all thought it was intended and planned,” she concluded.

Um, yeah. Let’s go with that.


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