WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “diaphanous” provided by the indomitable Ms. Nancy.
Like all good little Southern girls, I took ballet lessons, visions of Sugar Plums (the byproduct of numerous ballet picture books) dancing in my head. The instructor, Miss Silvia — who was even to our inexperienced eyes a bit too adult and a bit too once-married to be a “Miss” — ignored me in favor of the more wispy girls whose limbs were as long and straight as their hair.
My hair long but unruly, legs strong but short. A package altogether too bulky for ballerina dreams.
In my mind, I embodied the grace of the porcelain ballerina figurines on my Grandmother Marie’s dresser in her New Orleans home. Her home, although PawPaw lived there, too, when he was still alive, between ocean voyages to the Continent, the Orient, exotic ports from which he returned with embroidered finery, flouncy hats, delicate kimonos perfectly sized for his toddler granddaughter.
Accompanying the figurines was a silver-framed, black-and-white photo of Grandmother Marie — never shortened to a more informal term of endearment, no “grandma” was she — bejeweled, in a gown of spun sugar at a Mardis Gras ball, one of her thirteen sisters beside her.
Lissome, those figurines, commanding center stage upon the Pledge-polished surface. One balanced in an arabesque, the finely wrought layers of her tutu ruffling against the pale of her outstretched leg. Another frozen in a graceful curtsy, an arm extended, awaiting or beckoning an invisible partner, her dancing prince, to alight, bear her aloft. The last bowed low, head averted, clean sharp part in her dark painted hair, a sheaf of pale roses, baby’s breath as ethereal as the real thing, cradled in her angled arms.
In my young mind I categorized them as “dolls”, albeit ones I only touched surreptitiously after family dinners of soft-shell crab po’ boys or jambalaya, while the adults lazed and told stories of relatives both living and deceased.
Grandmother Marie treated me with the distant jocularity of the childless despite the obvious evidence of her motherhood. When she passed away after a lengthy hospital stay tenuously tethered to life support, shrouded by scrims, surrounded by family, my parents, solemn, said she wanted me to take the ballerinas home.
But an aunt swept through, stripped Grandmother Marie’s home of all items of potential value, my family’s haul limited to an ancient television console, a pair of pristine white vinyl love seats, a cutting from her prosperous fig tree we planted outside my bedroom window, from which I plucked plump figs for breakfast most mornings.
I never saw my dancers again — the aunt kept them in a box in her attic, not on display — it was as though they dresser-danced only in my imagination.
My ballet lessons continued at the behest of my coach, a necessary component of competition gymnastics training, of expressing muscular power with grace. Grace I may not have achieved, but I did learn the best dancers have the most malformed feet and gossamer-looking tutus are in actuality manufactured out of unforgiving fabric.
Today’s WordBowl Word-of-the-Day is an east/west affair: Cocktail inspiration from The Beagle (yes, again, but Dan makes a southern cocktail redolent of New Orleans, so this was a thematic choice) and Goat Town (both, east village).
Caffeine injection at Whynot Coffee (west village) brewing Blue Bottle Coffee (a little SF in NYC)
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