Mama and I spent several educational hours today, in our airy and cool apartment, watching The History Channel's series "The States." Each hour presented information on five states. Mississippi came up in the 3 p.m. hour.
Elvis and Tupelo led off the Magnolia State's segment. I hope I remember the rest of this correctly--I'll do my best. A shelf filled with books by Mississippi authors came on the screen, with one of Jill Conner Browne's Sweet Potato Queens books front and center; it went by quickly, but I'll just bet it was "The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love." Anyway, the TV screen filled up with Jill, The Sweet Potato Queen, marching in the Mal's St. Paddy's Day Parade with other queens, on Capitol Street, right in front of the Governor's Mansion, in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. Another split second later, flabbergasted, I saw myself. I kid you not. Gone just as fast, but there long enough for me to holler and for Mama to recognize me. My word! I called my brother Howard who had this lovingly predictable reaction: "Now, that's weird." Amen, brother.
So, I wanted y'all to get in on the fun, but I don't have a photo of myself marching; however, you see here a shot a fellow queen got of me outside Hal & Mal's, after our part of the parade ended. You can tell that sequins are hell on fishnet stockings, can't you?
Let me make certain that you understand I owe all of this to Donna Ladd, editor of the Jackson Free Press, my hometown's one and only alternative newsweekly. In the SPQ realm of things, Donna is what's known as Wannabe, as in "Oh, I wanna be a queen, too!" You know I used to do all sorts of things for/with the JFP before moving to Portland--write, take photos, edit, fact check, karaoke, Pub Quiz, etc., etc. It was an ever-lovin' blast! So, when Donna asked me in 2004 if I wanted to be her Wannabe, Wannabe, naturally I stepped up, grateful beyond measure for the chance. If I remember right, I replied, "Do you even have to ask?" meaning "Yea! Baby!" I can't describe how great it was, marching along, not being recognized by anyone, waving, taking pictures. That much fun led to my getting to be in the next year's parade, too.
Here's Jill herownself, like I told you, marching along right in front of the Governor's Mansion. Do you think that that brown hair sort of hanging into the photo, top right, and the black piece of equipment, bottom right, is the videographer and his camera? Could well be, if you ask me.
In my humble opinion, you couldn't find a more fun thing to do with foam rubber, fringe, sequins, sparkly fabric, flesh-colored net and majorette boots. No way, no how.
P.S. Back in the good ol' days, Mama and Jill worked together at Sears Roebuck, also in downtown Jackson but pre-SPQ. Be sure to stop by www.sweetpotatoqueens.com.