Fancy Nancy could never be used to describe me— but Anti-Fancy-Nancy could. I grew up in the SIXTIES where Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, and channel 9 reigned supreme.
Girls, you haven’t lived until the magic finder has chosen you to do Bozo buckets. Sadly, I only got to bucket # 2 and missed # 3, definitely not fancy moves.
Sorry for the digression. Bozo wasn’t a fancy clown—but I loved him and my childhood so much, I just had to share with you. In school, I loved Dick, Jane, and Sally but hated Think and Do. Dick and Jane weren’t very fancy, but Sally looked like my little sister with her curly locks and little kitty, Puff. So she was pretty fancy— until she made a mess.
My kindergarten teacher was mean but definitely fancy with her sharp colored nails and wicked, pouty red lips. I wanted her to like me, but she didn’t.
My first-grade teacher taught me the word, LOOK, the first day of school. I will always remember the moment I could read. My classroom was wild and crazy and, we loved to finger paint each other. My teacher was simply dressed, single and kind. I loved her, and she loved me. I believe she loved all her little children, especially when we’d settle down for a story reading for us in her special fancy voice.
My second-grade teacher, a glamorous beauty, looked like Jackie Kennedy. I wanted her to love me, but she didn’t. At least she didn’t send me to the office like the boys who came back to the room, every time buckling their belts after the paddle. They didn’t look very fancy trying to tuck in their shirts after either.
My third-grade teacher was grey-haired and very, very… (I know you’re guessing feeble, but she wasn’t). She was so slender that you might fear the wind would knock her down, but she would never have let it. She had an old fancy microphone in her room, taught us all how to get up and speak like a reporter, and also taught us to sing like angels. Every one of us led our class in daily song-time. It was the year of me learning, “New Math,” as she called it. She taught it like a champ. I understood numbers for the first time in my school career when she introduced the new way. Numbers and my tiny teacher became fancy to me.
But then I moved.…
to the scariest and prettiest teacher of my life. I think even the principal had a crush on her. That was the year I was introduced to the “We pick it” “We eat it “club, which wasn’t explained until my name went up on the chalkboard and my new class-mates burst into hysterical laughter. After that, I became a pariah on the playground. I thought it was because of my not-fancy blue glasses I had been wearing since I was little, but sadly I know know what, “We pick it, We eat it” means. My new school did “Old Math” and I was hopelessly confused; of course, that didn’t help. Confusion is not fancy.
With my fourth grade teacher, joy flooded my world again. This teacher was really older than dirt. It was her retirement year, which I didn’t find out about until the last day of school. She wasn’t fancy in her black skirt, white shirt, and oxfords. But her love was so fancy. Every student was her favorite. Every life mattered. And when I struggled, she persevered. I mourned not seeing her again after that year. I missed her fancy script and her fascination with writing famous quotes on the board.
My life and school kind of went like that every other year; it kind of went like that. Thank goodness I had my not-fancy mom to rely on. She only got a little fancier with a dash of lipstick and a change from her pedal pushers to a skirt before my dad came home from downtown Chicago. He may have liked a little fancy because he always whistled and gave her what we used to call “juicy kisses”.
I would have never expressed it in words, but I yearned for a mom who always wore polished red nails, mascara, and pancake makeup. I wished she had gone to the beauty parlor for the sprayed up bouffant hairdos of the day. And believe me, I tried whenever I could to get away with mascara in Junior High until one day when I got home from school with it running down my face because someone had said something mean.
And then she’d say, “Honey, when are you going to learn that your natural beauty is the best and that glow from inside of you shines so bright.”
I tried to be Fancy Nancy until my college years. I had a little help becoming un-fancy from Goldie Hawn, Carol Burnett, and the total peace, love generation moving forward.
Turning the page to Medicare this birthday, my only regret is not using sunblock when it first came out. But I am proud to say; there has never been a day that foundation has creased my cheeks or neck.
The day I got married almost 44 years ago my mom, made me get my hair done at the beauty parlor (the irony of this makes me giggle). The stylist rolled, set, and sprayed my hair. I promptly went home and took a shower and did my own, without the spray. My mom shook her head and realized some of what she had emulated had rubbed off. She had paid the stylist good money for no good reason. Her little girl had learned her lessons well.
PS I taught school for 40 years. In my final year, I had a student named Nancy; we were kindred spirits, not liking the girlie—the fancy. But inside there was lots of fancy love.
PSS Opening up my blog header that I have had for ten years is pretty- paisley fancy. A feast for my eyes that I never have tired of…Word Press doesn’t even offer it any longer. It’s only SIXTIES fancy!
Dear Nanc: I could relate to so many things on this whirlwind tour of your life! Those shows… they came rushing back. That made me remember watching Ginger on Gilligan’s Island and knowing I could never be like her (funny thing – some people have told me I remind them of her and I am not sure if it is a good or bad thing; I am scared to ask in what way, as Ginger was so overdone). Plus, it turns out, everyone loved Mary Ann more. I could see many of my teachers in your teachers, and felt the sharp unkindness of classmates…I, too, had glasses. Wigs were “in” with older girls when I started school; I would put one one in kindergarten class (can you even believe that was allowed, Teacher?) I so wanted “long beautiful hair,” lol. I love how you grew into embracing your natural beauty, and your inner beauty shines in every word you write. 🙂
Your mother’s quote is absolutely perfect! Your beauty shines with every word you write. My heart hurts for that little girl who didn’t think her teacher loved her. I am sure that every student who passed through your world, knew they were loved.
I love these stories so much, and your beautiful personality in them! Also, your blog header always lifts my spirits.