A humorous look at the little things in life

Bruce was right — Glory Days, well, they’ll pass you by… May 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashleyolsonrosen @ 2:06 pm

Recommended wine for today’s entry: Because my friend Paul still enjoys harassing me about my stint as May Queen, oh these long 38 years later, I’m going to recommend a Paul Dolan pinot noir today. The 2007 was reviewed by Organic Wine Review and they described the aroma as “dry cherries…raspberry vanilla pie…cranberries…very fruit forward,” and on the palate, “Like it. Lots of fruit on the palate with an earthiness.” They considered it a bargain at $25. 

Oh my. Here I was, my head whirling with the excitement of prom and Oaks and Derby and finals and AP exams and a surprise visit from my mother and a cat with a bladder infection who pees with every step and I COMPLETELY FAILED TO CELEBRATE MAY DAY. 

What? May Day isn’t a big event for you? Well, I don’t want to sound braggy, but in 6th grade I was the MAY QUEEN at Wilder Elementary School. This laughable claim to fame is often the fodder of late-night reminiscences with old friends who drink so, so, so much that we reflect all the way back to 6th grade. That’s a long night of drinking. My friend Paul even brings it up when he’s sober and I will share his personal memories of that significant time in my life in a few paragraphs. 

Before you get all intimidated by me, I’m going to be honest — while this sounds much more impressive than Homecoming Queen, Prom Queen, Miss Kentucky or, quite possibly, Mrs. USA — it was not as much of an honor as you might think. Here’s the scenario: 

In 6th grade, I was in the Advanced Program, which was excellent for academics, but for acquiring popularity or social skills– not so much.  I had long, stringy hair that was in transition from blonde to the color of rotting wood. I had photogray glasses that automatically turned into dark sunglasses if I stepped into sunlight or if someone opened the refrigerator or if a flashbulb went off within 200 yards. I was about 5-foot-5 and oh, maybe 80 pounds. 

If you’re any good at anatomy, you probably know that with that height and weight, I was either missing an appendage or was exceedingly, painfully, flat. Let’s just say that I wasn’t in the market for any prosthetics. 

So by now you may have surmised that I was not elected to be May Queen by popular vote of my peers. The teachers chose me, and I feel sure that for years they sat in the break room saying, “OHMYGOD! Remember in ’72, when we made that flat, mousy girl be May Queen? That was the BEST! She looked like Mr. Magoo up there without her glasses! Hardy har har…” 

Well, it gives me great solace to know that the evil beings who played the funny trick are quite probably quite dead by now. 

It was a nightmare. 

It started the day after the announcement of my impending coronation. You see, the alternate, in the event I wasn’t able to perform my duties, was a girl named … well, I don’t even know her real name. But I do know they called her BB. For Big Boobs. So as I trailed through the halls in single-file lines, on my way to lunch or recess or to the counselor for suicide watch, boys would pass me and stick their heads out of their own single-file lines to whisper … often loudly … LET BB BE MAY QUEEN! LET BB BE MAY QUEEN! I think the guy who auditioned to be Lord of May, Brad S., did so because his friends promised him they could get me to step down and then he’d be Lord of BB… 

Here is what my friend Paul had to say about BB in his e-mail: 

Don’t think for a minute that I do not remember BB.  She still floats around in the recesses of my memory.  In 6th grade I sure didn’t know much, but I knew there was something about BB I liked.
Ashley, I am not sure but I believe that the whole May Day and May Queen thing was based on some pagan ritual of purity,  (This may not be true and I am only remembering it to be true)  which eliminated BB from contention for the crown, tiara, or hat whatever it was they placed upon your head.

The harassment in the halls went on for a full two weeks. At first it freaked me out, mainly because I didn’t know that anyone outside my classroom knew that I existed and I preferred it that way. I was perfectly happy hiding in anonymity, at least until I “blossomed.” But after a while, the heckling didn’t faze me: I had a much more pressing issue to deal with. 

I was forced to wear a long, white dress, which my mother, in a wonderful maternal gesture, agreed to whip up for me on the sewing machine that was wedged in the guest room closet. For days she toiled on the dress, which actually turned out fine. 

Except it was white and I didn’t have a bra yet. 

So I finally mustered up enough courage to ask my mother for one. Of course, I was too shy and too much of a tomboy to say the word “bra,” because I was sure it was a dirty word. So I told my mother that the white dress was going to be — you know — too see-through in the bright sunshine of the glorious May Day. And she got it, nodding knowingly, Yes, I see. I’ll take care of it tomorrow, don’t worry. 

Well, the next day I hightailed it off of bus 1283 and ran up my driveway. Breathless, I sped to the guest room where I heard the sewing machine whirring away in the 2×4 closet. There, on the guest room bed, was a bag from Shaheen’s … OH MY. Right there. My BRA. 

Except it was a two-pack of those undershirts that the bald guy on King of the Hill wears. 

NOOOOOOOOO. This was SO not fair. How was I gonna stuff the King of the Hill undershirt? 

After much soul-searching and probably a couple shots of Nyquil (the closest thing to drugs or alcohol to which I had access), I came out and said it — bra — and mom went and got me one. It had a teddy bear decal neatly stitched in between the cups. Well, they really weren’t cups, they were more like large fabric contact lenses. But at least there was a strap in the back. 

May Day dawned hot as crap and sunny, sunny, sunny. I couldn’t wear my photogray glasses, because I looked like John Lennon in them and that wasn’t the image we were shooting for. So I had to have my Lord of May, Brad, literally lead me up to my throne. 

What, Jennifer? I AM facing the camera! Where?

It was halfway to the throne that I remembered the Lord of May was supposed to kiss me. And there I was, too blind to know when to fend the lecherous 12-year-old off! I believe I did get a glimpse of his face, fuzzy because I was literally legally blind, coming at me and I deftly ducked away, leaving him to glaze my cheek. 

The rest of the pomp and circumstance was, according to those who could see, quite exciting. The Maypole dancers were lovely. A girl on the court about three chairs down from me fainted — out cold — and people came and hauled her away. I didn’t even see it. I just sat there, staring straight ahead, watching for BB in the crowd. I wanted to make sure she knew that I … the ugly little nerd … I had a BRA. Just like hers. 

Well, sorta like hers. 

Anyway, my buddy Paul did some research about the pagan ritual of May Queens and here is his enlightenment: 

The thought that I had given you misinformation on the pagan may queen thing had me really concerned. You might be relieved to know that at one point in time the May Queen was sacrificed at the end of the festival.
Well, the experience sucked, but I guess I should be pleased I survived.

2 Responses to “Bruce was right — Glory Days, well, they’ll pass you by…”

  1. Stacie (Sullivan Bunning) Says:

    Oh God am I glad I found this post! May Day was an excruciating event for me at Wilder, and I only went there from 4th-6th grade!!! So much envy and longing…I’m relieved to learn nearly 35 years later that it wasn’t as wondrous as I thought….

    Regarding BB, you’ll be amused to know that she ALWAYS gets mentioned when I’m lecturing about puberty in my Adolescent Psychology course.

    Great blog, Ashley!

  2. ashleyolsonrosen Says:

    Yeah, I could’ve saved you 35 years of trauma … being May Queen was HELL. That is SO funny about BB. A legend who belongs in a new version of “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret.” If I could write a YA novel, I’d use it!

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