THE GREAT OLYMPIANS
The Olympics always brings to mind my childhood dream of being in the Olympics. This would have been right after I had put away the dream of being a great movie star like Marilyn Monroe. It was pointed out to me that no movie star wore glasses, so that was that. I tried walking from my house to the Methodist Church without my glasses but I fell and smashed my face on the concrete, so my big dream was ended. Movie stars don’t wear glasses. Besides, how would I be able to follow a script? It seemed my misfortune that I had to be the odd one in my family who had to be stricken with this dreaded burden.
However, in the third grade I met my best friend, Gelaine Listenberger. She had glasses too. Not only that, but she was shorter than I was. In fact she was so short that her father had to build her a little stool that she parked under her desk, so her feet wouldn’t be left swinging all day. We were inseparable. She was wonderful and we spent almost every hour of our lives together. We stayed all night with each other often, and our parents got used to having another member of each family.
Waynedale School had a talent show when we were in the 4th grade. We talked together about trying out for the talent show. Little did we know that no one was turned away from being a great talent, thus everyone in the 4th grade participated in the talent show. Gelaine (better known by her nickname, “Ope”) and I decided we would dance. Tap dancing seemed to be our best option. Down in our basement we had a concrete floor and with our tap shoes we made a beautiful sound. We didn’t have all that much room to practice, as we had to work between the coal bin, the stoker (that fed the furnace) and the furnace. The concrete had big cracks in it, so we had to be careful that our taps didn’t get stuck in one. On rainy washdays my mother had all the laundry hung in the basement so that practice day was out. My mother didn’t appreciate a bunch of handprints all over her clean laundry.
We made up our own routine and we were sensational. We tapped in unison, and whirled together, ’till our skirts stood straight out. Upon finishing our routine, we bowed in unison and felt we were the new sensation. On the day of the talent show at Waynedale School, we performed with confidence, and a feeling of greatness. Our taps didn’t sound as loud as they did in the basement, and the sound may have gotten a bit lost in the school auditorium, but the clapping when we finished more than made up for what may have been a less than spectacular routine.
It was around this time that I became aware of the Olympics. My head was filled with dreams of how I could be an Olympian. After all, wasn’t I a great success on stage with Ope? I wasn’t sure what event I would enter, but I was sure that whatever it was, I would enter with Ope and we would be right up there on the platform getting our gold medals. How the crowd would clap and roar their approval. We would make our parents proud, and might even have a parade down Old Trail Road after our return.
And then we heard the bad news. Nobody who competes in the Olympics wears glasses. I was shattered. Ope and I both wore glasses so that left us both out. We were dejected and forlorn. However, there was always a chance for the Miss America Pageant. That too, was soon ruled out, due to the fact that no Miss America in the whole history of the world wore glasses, and we lamented our fate. Were we to try to walk down the runway without our glasses, we’d blindly fall off the edge into the judge’s laps, and surely be humiliated.
So fame and fortune eluded me…and all because I had to wear glasses. Think what I could have been! Think how famous! Adoring crowds cheered for other people who didn’t wear glasses. But poor me. I missed all those accolades. When the time came that they could laser off cataracts and insert lenses into my eyes, wouldn’t you know it? I was too old to be famous!! Not only that, the surgery didn’t do me much good and my fate is still trifocals. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.
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