On the drive home from the gym this morning I saw a bluebird. It was a beauty. And then I started thinking about the year when I was in a Bluebird troop. Bluebirds were to Camp Fire Girls what Brownies are to Girl Scouts. Somehow Girl Scouts overshadowed Camp Fire Girls because I don’t think Camp Fire Girls exist anymore. In any case, I was having one of those stream of consciousness moments that happen 20 or 30 times a day.
As I thought about my time as a Bluebird, sometime around second grade maybe, I remembered all sorts of things. Our troop leader was Mrs. Kelliher and I loved spending time in her house because it had two staircases in it – a la Fiddler on the Roof – and that did make me think the Kellihers were rich. Not to mention that there was only one child in the Kelliher household and she lived like a princess with her own bedroom. Her room was beautifully wallpapered with a coordinating quilt on the bed. That kid had it made as far as I could tell.
At one of our troop meetings, it was announced that one lucky girl would be chosen to model in a fashion show. This generated some serious buzz, although I didn’t know why. It didn’t interest me very much, which is probably why my name was chosen at random to represent our troop. When I asked my mother to get me out of it, she wouldn’t. She said it was a big honor and I should be thankful I was being given this chance. I recall going to Sears (yes, it was a very fancy fashion show) to try on clothing. The outfits we were modeling were part of the Winnie the Pooh collection. I had to wear a scratchy polyester pantsuit with a yellow and green lattice-style print on it and also a floral printed blue and green party dress that coordinated with a very groovy maxi dress that an older Camp Fire Girl got to model. In short, I had two hideous outfits to wear. Add this to the fact that I had trouble following directions and it should have surprised no one when my performance was less than stellar.
The day of the show came and when I walked out onto the stage, I froze directly under the fake trellis. Just refused to move and had no idea which way I supposed to turn. They had to send out an older girl, the same one I’d have to walk out with later in our party wear, to push me along. I just stood there, looking into the stage lights without any ability to move myself along. I’ve never forgotten that feeling of complete stress-induced paralysis. I got through the rest of the event, somehow, but the shame I felt lingered all the way home in the car and I couldn’t wait to get back into my dungarees.