Miss Idaho’s Potato Sack

In the second grade I was in the brownies. I wore a little brown dress, refused the knee high socks with the orange tassels and went to the weekly or monthly meetings; I cannot remember which because time is so strange for children. Scratch that – time is strange, period.

Near the end of the school year every brownie troop entertained a Junior Miss pageant contestant. My troop drew Miss Idaho, who was pretty enough but somehow managed to be a disappointment to my second grade self. Truly, I expected she should show up at our troop’s designated area for the parade wearing no less than a resplendent yellow gown, or in the least a fancy swimsuit. Alas, she wore jeans and a denim jacket.

We met at a museum in downtown Mobile, or some other esteemed old south store front. I remember sitting mesmerized on the cement steps. I was beside and beneath her, given my short stature, and I noticed that her ear lobes were split like a snake’s tongue. I had a vague recollection of my mother telling me what would happen if I ever wore earrings that were too heavy and resolved from my low vantage point to carefully weigh what I might put in my ears.

I watched her talking to those gathered around her, future Alabama Junior Miss potential, all of us. Her face was animated and her smile was big, and she managed to speak and smile the entire time; her voice and teeth equally loud. Her skin was the color of a well made cappuccino and I remember liking her fuchsia lipstick very much. So enamored with watching her mouth move around her smile I didn’t hear a word she said.

There was to be a parade to conclude our time as Junior Miss hosts. In this parade there would be a mascot representing the designated Junior Miss of each troop. Much like my disappointment at seeing our Junior Miss hadn’t donned formal or swim wear, I was equally dismayed upon discovering our representative would be dressed as a potato. No one saw that coming.

I do not remember how I got designated to be the potato. I could have volunteered, or more likely I was the last to look away when our brownie troop leader presented us with the burlap sack with leg holes and asked for a volunteer. I took one more long, horrified look at Miss Idaho’s split earlobes and descended into burlap hell.

Being the end of the school year, somewhere near April or May, Alabama heat had already descended with its industrious work ethic. Not only is it hot, it is humid as only Mobile can be come mid-May. The thick scratchy fabric of the burlap potato costume raked across my shoulders as my arms moved when I walked. I walked a lot, through downtown Mobile as I followed on the smiling heels of radiant, denim dressed Junior Miss Idaho. Given my adult hindsight, she might have regretted her choice of denim near as much as I did my plight as the walking potato in the Junior Miss pre-pageant parade.

This afternoon my family and I were at the zoo. I was watching my fifteen month old niece walking in front of me, toddling in her blue romper with white flamingos stamped on the fabric with the regularity of medium sized polka dots. The blue romper she wears is designed like my potato costume, but with soft cotton fabric and a stylish design. Her little outfit was enough to bring me back to that Junior Miss parade.

For just a moment, I felt like a fat little potato in an uncomfortable outfit. Then, just as quickly, the memory faded and I was back on the catwalk over the zebras. We quickly abandoned the zebras for more interesting animals like goats, which are everyone’s favorite.

Dear Reader, you may wonder why this post has nothing to do with yoga… or does it? I went to Atlanta last weekend to see my Teacher. The trip was quick, as they always are, but the experience is so rich. In the dark soil of study I feel very young and realize how very little I know about this whole yoga thing, and in this I feel a little free and a little wild. Kinda like me in the second grade, even though as an adult I’d tell’em that no the hell I’m not walking through Mobile in a potato costume. But still, you know, wild and free, the two things yogis and young kids have in common.



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