Southern women are known for their charm, and it does not always come naturally. In my case, it took a lot of tap and ballet lessons, watching women like my mom, grandmother and my dance teacher Mrs. Pat Gray and involvement in many social situations where as a young belle I could get a lot of practice. Most belles are sent to dance lessons, that is where we first learn to sparkle. Other lessons follow.
I began lessons at age 3, and by my first dance recital I was a dancing snowflake. Mrs. Pat said we needed to throw our shoulders back, stand upright and smile if we wanted to be a successful snowflake. If you drooped, all you could hope to be was a puddle. Dance recitals are elaborate with costumes that would make Marc Jacobs sit up and take notice. The love of costumes and dressing up has stayed with me throughout my life. I was never a professional dancer, but I know how to dress up and project a smile that I learned at the Pat Gray Academy of Dance and Gymnastics. My ballet slippers are gone, but I still throw my shoulders back when I enter a room. Once you have been a successful snowflake, you will never again settle for being a puddle.
In small Southern towns like I grew up in, the dance teacher doesn't just teach tap and ballet, there is also etiquette, manners, and what we like to call "charm" in the South that is instilled in every dance lesson. The majority of my childhood memories include dance class and the girls that I took dance class with, dressing up for dance recitals as our mothers fought to put mascara on us, which in turn, prepared me to becoming a successful Dusty (social service club, i.e. high school sorority) with full make-up and big hair for our lead-outs, head cheerleader (thanks Richelle, Mrs. Pat's daughter, for teaching me to flip), successul public relations practitioner for many large organizations and the ultimate, a proper Southern bride.
Mrs. Pat is celebrating her 54th dance recital this year where many of her students children and grandchildren will be dancing lollipops and hopefully there will be many snowflakes. I have not pirouetted in years, but my dance lessons prepared me for the life of a proper southern belle and for the patience and unconditional acceptance of Mrs. Pat, I am forever thankful. Congratulation on 54 years and thank you for making a difference in my life.
The Park Wife
My first tiara, so what if it was made out of sequins, I was a princess at age 3.
Tap dancing my way through life, with another tiara, silver this time.
Cheerleading in a southern town is very important. Most of the other girls envied you, it was hard work when you went to cheer competition at summer camp, and Friday night football is a way of life in the South.
Still dancing in high school, um, where was my tiara?????
My ultimate crowning moment, marrying Big Buckaroo, the man of my dreams.
Our first dance, thank goodness I was prepared from all of my years at the Pat Gray Academy of Dance and Gymnastics!