Author: Kandice Cruz
Title: Nanna and the "Lady" Lessons
Type of Work: story
Source: CMv1 #52
© Copyright 2002 Kandice Cruz
When I approached Junior High School, we had moved from the farm in the Pan-Handle of
Texas to a subburb of Dallas called Cedar Hill. My mother's mom, Nanna, also moved with
When I found out that they had dances at Cedar Hill Junior High School, my Nanna decided it was time for me to learn how to be a lady. This meant learning how to walk properly in high heels, sitting without your back touching the back of a chair and learning how to introduce people to each other and how to properly eat with which utensil.
Now keep in mind, when Nanna decided to do this, it was the early 80's and times had changed. But Nanna wasn't up on the latest fashions and dances and popular music. She vowed to turn me into the most proper of Southern Ladies even if she had to break my neck to do it. I remember her telling my mother that just because I grew up on a farm and with a houseful of boys, there was no reason for me to act like a field hand and bring shame to the family.
Nanna was one of those ladies that wore hats everytime she stepped out of the house and she always wore gloves, the white ones in summer and brown ones in winter, when she went to church or other public outings. I never once saw my Nanna slouch in a chair or cross her legs. I was sure that I would never be able to become the Lady that Nanna wanted me to be.
The lessions started with Nanna taking me into Dallas to a shoe store to purchase my very first pair of high heels. Oh how I loved those shoes! They where a beautiful pair of white heels with a two inch heel and straps that went across the top. Needless to say, when I tried them on in the store and tried to cross the store to look at my feet in the mirror, I promptly fell on my butt in front of everyone in that store!
Nanna then took me to the store next to the shoe store and there she bought me the widest brimmed hat I believe I had ever seen in my life along with the hotest pair of white gloves that made my hands sweat just to look at them. After the purchases, Nanna took me back to the house and then the real lessions began.
Every night at dinner, if my elbows rested on the table, she would grab my wrist and then somehow my elbow would hit that table. My head got twaped if my back touched the chair. Every day I wandered around the house in those high heels and then the day came when Nanna was convienced I could walk in those shoes well enough to begin to learn how to dance in them.
Nanna's idea of dancing was the ballroom type of dancing. She enlisted the aid of one of my male cousins that lived in Cedar Hill to be my dance partner. We learned how to waltz and foxtrot and a dozen other dances that no-one but the specials on PBS would do. Day after day we endoured hours and hours of waltzing to LPs of Guy Lumbardo music.
The time came for the first dance of the school year. nanna had made me a dress of this organza type material and for all the world it was the frilliest thing I had ever seen. All my friends where in blue jeans and t-shirts when I arrived in this ball dress. Needless to say, most of the other kids laughed at me when I entered the gym that night. Horrified I ran to the bathroom and spent a good hour and a half in there crying. One of my very best friends that I ever had, Carol, came into the bathroom with an extra pair of jeans that she had gotten her mom to bring to the school. I changed into those jeans and felt alot better.
With my head held high I walked out of that bathroom with the contraband jeans and my white high heels on. My cousin Michael (the one that endoured the dancing lessions with me) came up to me and promised he wouldn't snitch on me. When they played a slow song and all the other kids where out on the dance floor swaying back and forth to the music, my wonderful cousin came over to me and asked me to dance. We walked out onto that dance floor and executed the most perfect waltz that anyone in that gym had ever seen. Most of the teachers and even the principal of the school walked over to were we where to watch us dance. When the song ended, the grownups asked us where we had learned to dance like that and at the same time, both of us answered "Nanna taught us!"
After that, at each school dance, my cousin Michael and I would have to dance just one dance together and we always waltzed.A year after we both graduated High School, Michael was killed in a horrific auto accident and I have never waltzed again since that accident.
I hope one day to be able to waltz again, hopefully at my wedding reception when I marry Dan. But we will see and if I do, I have no one else but Nanna and those white high heels to thank.