Dirty hair, dirty clothes, dirty anything brought her shame

Dirty hair, dirty clothes, dirty anything brought her shame
Second in a two-part series

It really didn't take much to embarrass the woman whose story I am sharing with you. Poor table manners, obesity, and overeating were among the many triggers that troubled her.

We left off last week, when the woman and her 11-year-old daughter were visiting a cousin who lived in a nearby town.


The daughter had just finished her third helping of pie, when her mother, with a certain exterior charm, ended the visit abruptly.

Mother and daughter left the cousin's house and climbed into the family car. Before driving away, the mother's litany started up.

"Don't embarrass me like that ever again, never, ever ask for seconds, let alone thirds, God help us – where are your manners, don't you know when to stop?"

Whatever satisfaction the daughter experienced in helping herself to three pieces of pie was gone.

Yet, the woman did not limit tirades like this one to her family, as friends and strangers alike could bring on the same degree of scorn.

Under her scrutiny: your waistline, your hairstyle, your table setting, your housecleaning, your handwriting, your spelling, your grammar, your pronunciation.

"It's gen-u-ine with a short i. It's not gen-u-i-ne with a long i. Gen-u- i-ne. Don't ever say gen-u-i-ne. People will think you are uneducated."

Whatever was tormenting the woman had a foothold that prevented her from living – I mean really living a full life. The sight of dirty hair, dirty clothes, dirty dancing, dirty anything.

She wrestled with it, tried to fight it off and eventually allowed it to take over.

This thing – this relentless demon – stopped her from going and doing: grocery shopping, attending church, going to weddings and funerals, eating out, walking in the park, visiting friends, traveling to see her children and grandchildren.

There was a great deal that troubled that woman. Don't ask me how I know.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail pauladamon@iw.net.

� 2007 Paula Damon

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