When we moved awhile back, we filled a 1-800-Got-Junk dumpster to the brim with piles and piles of stuff. Horrid, gnarly flower arrangements, heavily embroidered drapes, nicks and knacks, sacks and sacks or ornamental trash, in colors that NEVER EVER appear in nature. Mauves and sea foam green. Among the odd pieces of shag rug mixed in with my deserted and abandoned half finished stabs at cross stitching, I found an old wall hanging I must have made while on heavy medication, a five foot by seven foot hooked rug, of what was once the setting sun, long well set and unraveling in my hands. Ah yes, this was from our "chrome and glass" period. Actually worse than that, more our "chrome plated" and "smoked glass" decade. Vase after vase of trailing fake ferns covered in dust.. I won't even mention the terrible awful offal pile of polyester pants and suits and oh my the mustard colored stirrup pants and matching shoulder-padded-oversized sweaters. The leg warmers and matching head bands. Enough! Enough! Enough!
So, no one was more surprised than I to witness the resurgence of consignment stores and warehouses cropping up deep in the downtown recesses. I read about them in the paper and ventured forth to see what all the buzz was about. There, in full view, the downsized remains of baby boomers, just like me, stacked in piles, and young people standing in lines...lines!...to dig through the boxes and the crates for that one special "find". I got the giggles, I must admit, thinking that someone would pay to own what I had thrown. However, there, laid bare, my past, my distant far away past sat within reach. Armoires with hand carved doors lined with silvery etched mirrors. Leather strapped steamer travel trunks, lined inside with still smooth satin. Beside these hardy and sturdy time travelers, a dressmakers mannequin. The outline of the shape and form of the women I once knew. Full figured, hour glass shaped, nipped in at the waist.
The. Big. Tough. Broads.
The women in the photo albums at home, the ones photo cornered in black. The women standing stiff and straight, their long locks swept up and back, held by ebony combs. One hand resting on the back of the chair in which their husband sat, equally tall and equally straight. Both staring into the lens of the camera, nary a smile nor a show of emotion. The woman in deference to her mate, perhaps. Or as I know, because I grew up around these women, the Big. Tough. Broads., they rarely sat down, for anyone.
Where are those scary faced women who asked me to give more than what was expected. The ones who stared into my eyes and without a single word asked Well?
The ones who saw more in me than I never knew I had. Saw beyond my ill fitting clothes, beyond my social stammer, to what I could not see. That I could be anything if I tried. That I could do anything if I was willing to learn.
They expected an effort. A try.
These are the women who kept their boots on the ground while the earth shook all around them. They had no need to protest, as they needed no one's permission. What was broken, mended. Who was ill, tended. The hard working shirk no duty, move over, hands in hot water broads.
Busy busy broads too busy with the fullness of life to protest in any other way than by the sheer weight and power of setting an example for the next in line. Women will big appetites and full figures. If they had ever burned their corseted brassieres, it would have been a lusty pyre. But when you're busy building bridges there's little time for bonfires.
You know these women. Just as I do. The courageous who crossed the ocean in search of a better life. The solid souls, reins in hand, driving wagons across plains and over mountains. The fearless who crossed the lines when the signs said Don't Walk. The tenacious few who strolled up the aisle and simply sat down. The beautiful Big. Tough. Broads. who used their calloused hands to help other women up.
If they were here right now, standing with their hands across their formidable chests, they'd merely shift their stance, narrow their gaze and without a word, ask Well?
The. Big. Tough. Broads.
The. Yard. Yetis. Of. Lore.
Raquel Rhododendron...One. Big. Tough. Broad.
Her story begins here...