1. concerned predominantly or excessively with sex; risqué
2. sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality
3. excitingly appealing; glamorous
When I was a girl, we moved from the East Coast to the Rockies just after I became a Brownie. My new best friend and nextdoor neighbor was a Southern Baptist. Liz went to her church with her family, and I rode the school bus with my younger sisters to another church while our parents slept in.
Mom was an ex-Catholic, and Dad was an Agnostic. They said church was good for us. I read the Bible every night. My very own. It was present for my 8th birthday. (I begged for it.) It had a green leather cover and a tie dye label that (still) reads: KELLY SALASIN–in capitals–which I spelled out, letter by letter, and then printed, with my very first label maker.
Ruth was my favorite book. I read it again and again. Just saying Ruth releases a litany of names that preceded hers which I memorized to win a small stuffed frog on the long ride to the Sunday School, housed in a empty building downtown:
It never occurred to me then, or until decades later, that my love for the Book of Ruth, which really was a dull story about an obedient woman, was simply that it was one of two (out of the 66 memorized–in order) named for a girl.
I loved to read. My grandmother tried to pass on her collection of Nancy Drews, but the covers looked too girlish for me. I preferred Pippi Longstocking and Harriet the Spy, and okay–the Little House series–but Mary lived in the Big Woods, and that was adventurous.
Liz and her family brought me to some big woods called, Ponderosa, where I kept at look out for Little Joe and his older brothers coming around the corner on horseback, even though Liz’s parents told me that it wasn’t that Ponderosa. They must have been right, because instead of a ranch, we spent out time in a pavilion, under a cross, singing about Jesus–who I really liked too– especially because he was kind and had pretty hair, but he wasn’t as thrilling as Michael Landon.
When I graduated from Brownie to Junior at the age of 9, I went to my own overnight camp in a place called Evergreen. My mother helped me pack. Of particular interest was pajamas. We made a special shopping trip and settled in on a long, thin, polyester nightgown–with a halter top. (It was the seventies.)
Of the three things that I can still recall about Girl Scout Camp, one was how tall and green the Pines were, and the second was how one of those gave me my first tick. As a friend was tying the strings of my nightgown around my neck, she began to scream, and soon all the other girls were screaming and running around, and the Troop Leaders had to dash off in search of a lighter and a pair of tweezers.
It was very exciting.
But it did overshadow my win.
Which was the third thing, that I only just remembered.
I had forgotten about Sexiest Pajamas until a recent trip when I realized that I hadn’t packed anything for sleeping. Had I been heading to a hotel, I could manage, but our destination was a yoga retreat where I would share a room with a dozen other woman. I made a quick stop at a Marshalls on the way, frantically searching for something that approximated the soft boxers and old, oversized t-shirts that had been my de rigueur since college, but the closest thing that I could find was something altogether out of character.
“Really?” my husband asked.
“I know,” I said, “but they remind me of something.”
“What?” he said.
I wasn’t sure, but as I thought about, I remembered:
“Sexiest Pajamas!” I said, and it was only then, as I explained, and saw the look of concern on my husband’s face, that I began to question my 9 year old pride.
And still, it wasn’t until I shared that same recollection with my 14 year old son, who said repeatedly, “That’s terrible!” that I fully realized how skewed this award had been.
I thought back to my childhood.
Sexy had always been a good thing.
My father said it to my mother.
And on special occasions to one of us girls.
Both my parents agreed that the halter nightgown was a shoo in for the Sexiest category which would be an easier win than Cutest or Prettiest Pajamas.
The thing is girls looked like girls back then.
We didn’t go to beauty salons for haircuts or color or manicures and pedicures.
We didn’t wear what women wore, and we didn’t dance like women danced.
We had home cut bangs and matching striped short suits from Sears;
and we danced the Alley Cat and the Mexican Hat Dance in circles with friends.
The Sexiest Pajamas award had simply been a charming allude to what our futures held.