Dolly

Kenzy didn’t have a good night, which meant I was up at 3am scrolling Facebook (you know, that time after your kid gets back to sleep and you are still wide awake). My Facebook is filled with Dolly-related content, so I clicked on an article about Dolly waking up to start her day at 3am.

She of course prays and meditates, etc–but my favorite is that she puts high-heeled shoes on so she can reach her kitchen cabinets. And sometimes she just throws together a breakfast of sausage, biscuits and gravy! She makes sausage patties. And biscuits from scratch. “Not every day,” she tells me–making me feel a little less inadequate for toasting a mini bagel & calling it a day.

So you guessed it, I decided to go ahead and start my day. Not at 3am. I stayed in bed until 5am debating, but Dolly pushed me over the edge. I thought I would come say hello to you. I don’t know how to make a biscuit, but this bagel sure tastes good.

Dolly is EVERYWHERE these days, and I couldn’t be happier. Apologies for those that have heard my Dolly stories over and over again. But I absolutely adored her growing up. My musical tastes as a kid revolved around my dad’s tape and CD collection, which for the most part was country music. My version of “listening” to his music naturally meant creating interpretive dances to every single song in our living room. “Ronnie Milsap, you really did it with this album! He’s really blind?!?!”

When it was time for my parents’ hometown (Earth, TX of course!) to have their yearly rodeo and parade, Grandma Edna approached me and my cousins with the idea of being on a parade float (I mean I don’t know the details of this–I could’ve been begging for this opportunity). Ummm, not only do you NOT have to ask me twice, but I already have a vision for this exact small town parade performance! I would be Dolly, my brother John would be Willie and my cousin Amber would be Reba on a float decorated in hay bales and American flags. A true country music float!

I remember my mother driving me out to some mobile home on the outskirts of town where this woman had an amazing wig collection we could rent. Mom, how did you ever find this place? A dream come true! And yes, Amber–that Tina Turner wig looks almost just EXACTLY like Reba.

Each of us had a song to lip sync for the parade, and I must have practiced mine hundreds of times. After doing a deep dive of my dad’s Dolly collection, I chose the masterpiece, “Why’d you come in here lookin like that?”–totally appropriate for a young kid to perform.

The day of the parade, we last minute realized our boom box was out of batteries! Unfortunately I didn’t think to hire a technical director for this, so while those behind the scenes were on the hunt for batteries–the parade must go on! We seemed to be directly behind the fire truck, which meant loud sirens were drowning out any hope to be heard by the crowds on the street.

I did what any true performer would. I sang acapella. Guys, I got this! After this whole thing was over (I believe we got 2nd place? 3rd maybe? Some Disney float outdid us that year), I wasn’t yet ready to give up the wig–giving my relatives all a couple of chances to see my show up close and personal at in-home performances later on that week.

I thank Dolly for the inspiration, and this year is a perfect year for Dolly to be so over-exposed. I need her holiday movies, her Christmas albums, her paying for a vaccine, her Dollyisms on Instagram–give me MORE! She is saving me.

I also thank my parents, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents who encouraged me to be the most unique, authentic version of myself. You were my audience. You drove me to the wig shop. You found batteries for the parade. You were the Willie and Reba to my Dolly. It meant the world to this little west Texas girl.

The connection is not lost on me when I’m teaching because all I’m really doing is providing the tools these kids need to be their creative selves. I went to school for so many years from this, but I learned it all from my own support system. OK, gotta go make some biscuits. Is it nap time yet?

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