God Save the Sweet Potato Queens

God Save the Sweet Potato Queens by Jill Conner Browne Read Free Book Online

Book: God Save the Sweet Potato Queens by Jill Conner Browne Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jill Conner Browne
Tags: Fiction
to it, but we are not as likely to wax nostalgic over it down the road. We certainly don’t see this prissiness as a character flaw, at least as it applies to us. Our brand of prissy bespeaks a healthy sense of self-indulgence and is always accompanied by a sense of humor and a sense of compassion for those who, through no fault of their own, are not us. Lord knows, they would be if they could (just as we all know that every woman in that Tampa Bay stadium would have been wearing a full-length mink coat if she had one), and that alone is enough to melt our hearts toward them.
    But anyway, about this prissy business—we just think that, as with most everything, there is a way to do it and also a way to completely screw it up. For instance, a former Queen, Tammy, moved far away and commenced having babies. At first she would make the trip back here for parade day, but it became unmanageable, so she abdicated. We didn’t mind too much, because she was so much better looking than the rest of us. It was kind of a relief, took the pressure off somewhat, if you know what I mean. Before moving away, she had worked and slaved and generally endured hardships and deprivation—even having to do her own nails sometimes—while her husband was in medical school. However, once he got out and launched himself into doctoring full time for full money, she sat down and hasn’t gotten up since except to do her makeup and such. Which is, of course, as it should be. Even we had to laugh, though, when she moved into her new house, which is on an island in a river and has a pool and every possible amenity befitting a Queen. We were teasing her about the magnificence of her new digs. Her response, by way of just putting it all in perspective for us lesser mortals and trying to make us feel better about our own comparatively sorry lots in life, was this: “Oh, no, y’all just don’t know. When I’m lying out by the pool and those planes fly over, shoot, I can’t sleep!”
    One time, one of the regular good-looking Tammys and I went to a party where there were a whole pack of models. We took one look at them and immediately gravitated toward each other and into the next room, where there were only regular good-looking women like ourselves. The truth is that, up close and in person, they weren’t any better looking than we were. They had some very odd makeup techniques going, and we needed to discuss them and suppress our resulting guffaws. Some had those brown stripes painted down either side of their noses—you know, how the magazine articles always tell you to do, to camouflage your big nose? Well, it may look fine in a photo, but somebody needs to tell these women not to go out on the street wearing that stuff on their noses: They look like badgers.
    What really set us off, though, was their lipstick. How many of you out there still think it goes on your mouth? No wonder you ain’t in the movies. Yeah, us too. Anyway, we were just mesmerized by their mouths. See, we were from the old school, like you, where you put lipstick on your mouth the same way you color in a coloring book: You make every effort to stay inside the lines. Imagine our chagrin to learn that in model world anything on your face from underneath your nose to your chin is considered to be mouth and is eligible to have lipstick applied to it. Liberally. If your lips are on the thin side—hey! no problem—just take a lip pencil and draw on some new lips, any shape and size that suits your fancy, and paint them in with gobs of lipstick. It looks hilarious when they talk because only the genuine lip parts actually move: The dummy lips just sit there, gleaming but not moving. We could hardly take our eyes off of them, but then we had to leave the room so we could laugh. And redo our own lipstick, naturally. Then we were really laughing, but at least we looked like we fit in, and did we not!
    Sometimes prissy goes bad on you. Overheard at a restaurant, albeit not a fine one:

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