Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dolly Parton & Country Peach Passion

"She's a sparrow when she's broken
but she's an eagle when she flies."
- Dolly Parton

The picture here is one that I took in my hometown. One day, my mama and I decided that we had an itch, and the only way to solve it was to go antiquin'.

So, we hit up what is locally known as "the antique district," about four or five huge shops in a row, full of everything you can imagine (and lots of things that you can't). 

In every single one of these stores was at least one copy of Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Dolly Parton's autobiography. I'm not kidding. EVERY SINGLE ONE. 

Not only that, there were Dolly dolls, Dolly posters, Dolly cardboard cutouts, and Dolly PLATES. My immediate reaction was to laugh. 

And, of course, to take pictures so that people would believe me. 

Never before had I realized what an important role Dolly plays in Southern culture, especially in Tennessee. She grew up in the Tennessee mountains, dirt poor, struggling to make it day to day - just like my own grandmother. In Tennessee, she's not just "Dolly," she's "OUR Dolly."

But then, had I forgotten what an important role Dolly played in my own childhood? I had a framed, autographed (and personalized!) poster of her over my bed. I dressed up like her (complete with the pillows in the dress) almost daily. I recorded her TV specials on the VCR. One of my very first memories is me, in our kitchen, wearing tap shoes, dancing to "9 to 5" and "Here You Come Again." To me, Dolly represented everything glamorous - beauty, confidence, talent, femininity, womanhood. Cinderella Schminderella - give me Dolly!

How strange to find myself at 23 wanting to emulate her all over again.

We've all heard some of her infamous quotes - about how it costs a lot of money to look so cheap, how she left the mountains but took two mountains with her. I admit, I approached her autobiography with some reservations, fearing it would be sentence after sentence of gags like this (not that I don't appreciate a good gag). But I was so pleasantly surprised to find that in those pages, and in the heart of this woman, you find wisdom, humility, genuine love for others, and talent. 

This is a woman who knows who she is and isn't afraid to be exactly that. Who knows her strengths, knows her flaws, and isn't afraid to be blunt and honest about either. Who is so passionate about what she does that every single ounce of her energy is dedicated to honoring, furthering, and perfecting her craft. To put it bluntly, this is a woman with big boobs and even bigger balls. 

 I found out that all of those things that I believed to be true about her when I was 4 are - shocker - actually true. How many celebrities can we say that about? If nothing else, the book is worth reading just to hear her talk about calling Sylvester Stallone an, and I quote, "ungrateful son of a bitch," when he wouldn't help a homeless man who was cold and hungry. Later, after Dolly's talkin-to, Stallone went back to the man, gave him some food and some money, and told Dolly, "you were right." 

Putting Rambo in his place!? What did I tell you - BALLS!

Now, at 23, I want to be like Dolly more than ever before. And you can bet that I regret not buying that Dolly plate when I had the chance.

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