The Woman in the Chili Pepper Pants


I was sitting on a bench outside the Fine Arts Center today, waiting for Emily (my roommate)'s mom to get there so we could go in to see The Anatomy of Gray together. The weather was perfect, and I was wearing my black sundress and red jacket, so I didn't mind being outside. I was enjoying just watching and being watched by all the people pouring into the theater. At around 2:40, I saw this older woman walking slowly up the sidewalk. She was dressed oddly for her age. She wore red crocs, a black blouse, a necklace made of big, red, plastic beads, wore a lot of dark red lipstick, had her hair dyed dark red, and had on a black pair of capris with chili peppers on them. Her pace was slow and laborious, but I could see it in her face that she was delighted to be at the theater. She saw me sitting at that concrete table by myself and headed right for me. "Wow, look at you sitting out here, you look cute! I love your sundress!" she exclaimed sincerely as she sat down right by me. "Thank you!" I said, surprised. "You know, I was going to wear a sundress today, but then I thought, 'I can't do that, I need to wear a bra...'. Are you wearing a bra?" "Actually, I am," I said, "My dress straps just barely cover it." "Oh, see, my dress's straps are too thin, so I can't do that." "Oh, well that's too bad. Your outfit is pretty cool anyway though!" I said. "Thank you! So are you excited for the play?" "Yeah I am, this is my first play here--I'm a freshman." "Oh really! That's exciting! It's my first play too! Where are you from, then?" she asked. I guess by this time she had noticed my northern accent. "Oh, I'm from Rockford, Illinois, actually." "Oh my goodness! And you came to OU! Wow..." I then explained to her about having family down here and the National Merit Scholarship. She was excited to hear I am a National Merit Scholar. Then she told me she went to school here in the 60's, when they had "Gentle Thursday" and all the stinky hippies would line the south oval and give flowers to passers-by. I told her I wish I could have seen that, and we agreed that given the chance, we both would go back in time to the 60's...her to college, me to Woodstock. Eventually we got around to talking about my major. "What's your area of study here at OU?" "Well...I started off in environmental engineering...and then I realized I kind of hate engineering," I laughed, "so I got out of that as quickly as I could, and now I'm just looking for what I want to do with my life." "That's good that you got out of it!" she said. "You don't want to do something you hate. You should just give yourself time to explore; that's what college is all about! ...You know, you need to find something that you find incredibly fun, something that you will love your whole life, and find a way to make a career out of it. That's the way to really enjoy your life." Then she laughed and said, "Just make sure it's something that doesn't mess up your back! I was a physical therapist. Loved it, but it sure hurt my back!" We both laughed, and I thanked her. Then, clutching her back, she slowly rose and walked inside the theater with her husband who had just arrived. If fairy godmothers were real, I think mine would be the woman with the chili pepper pants.


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Norman, OK, USA

 © Madeline Dillner, Mad World Art Ltd. Co.