Friday, May 3, 2013

I Know Just How They Felt

I read this article online last night -- maybe you saw it posted on MSN's homepage. It's about a group of women in southwest England who attended a presentation on piracy and decided to go in style. They all dressed up as pirates, decked out in eye patches, pirate hats, and rubber daggers. It wasn't long after the speaker, Colin Darch, began his presentation that they realized his talk was about his 47-day ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates!

Needless to say, the women were embarrassed, yet they recovered and listened with rapt attention to his story. They even asked him to judge their costumes. He chose the woman with the toy parrot, "although, to be honest," he said, "it looked more like a fluffy chick."

Reading the story took my breath away. It may seem like an over-reaction, but I've got to tell you the truth: I know how those women felt! But my outfit wasn't that of a pirate. I was dressed as a pumpkin, a huge orange pumpkin!

In my junior and senior years of college I was a part of the on-campus women's service organization. We had monthly meetings where we learned about service opportunities, reported on events of the month before, and occasionally had a guest speaker. In my senior year, the October meeting fell precisely on Halloween evening.

Mom had sent me a Halloween care package that year, filled with candy and goodies, and a wearable pumpkin. Do you remember those party decorations that were made of honeycomb tissue paper? They came folded flat, but as you opened them up they turned into a centerpiece for the table. Well, that's what Mom sent me. Only this one was designed to fit around you, covering you from your shoulders to somewhere below the waist. (Imagine the pumpkin below being large enough to fit over an adult's torso.)

I loved it! So much so, in fact, that I decided to wear it to the meeting that night.

I slipped the pumpkin on over my lovely purple polyester pant suit and walked gingerly down the hall. I hadn't considered how I would navigate the steps that would take me to the floor below where the meeting was being held, but slowly, carefully, I maneuvered my way down the stairs.

Most of the women in the group, I learned that night, were too sophisticated to appreciate my outfit. They did not comment, they didn't smile, they didn't acknowledge me at all. Many of them wore their uniforms to the meeting -- a gold blazer over a black dress -- but there was not one other person in a costume.

I found a seat and somehow managed to bend in the right places to sit.

The meeting began. I endured the opening and the business details. And then the guest speaker began to share. She told about her three beautiful children and how, one by one, they had suffered with a terrible hereditary disease and eventually died.

It's a wonder my paper pumpkin didn't combust, ignited by a spark from my burning face!

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