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The Steel Magnolias plus one

What a Lucky Guy!

by Brooks Gardner
October 9, 2006

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The Steel Magnolias plus one
The Steel Magnolias and one_Brooks Gardner-What a Lucky Guy!Last week I celebrated my 63rd. birthday on two occasions. First was with my family. My youngest son, Nathan and his wife, Amanda, prepared a lasagna dinner with all the trimmings. My grandson, Will, helped me with the opening of the cards and we wound it all up with birthday cake.

Tuesday, was actually my birthday and I celebrated it with members of my stained glass class at the local community college. All of us in the class have been taking stained glass for years. I once called it our circle meeting and later a club. Our friendships have developed into caring relationships and we seek to help each other, kid with each other, mourn with each other, and celebrate with each other. There is one probable unique attribute of our group. I am the only male member. There are usually seven or eight ladies in the class and me. Now many hombres would consider this a gift from God. I do too, but not in the sense you might expect. There is only one member of the group that is younger than fifty. This leaves the rest of us well in control of our hormones.

While listening to conversation in the class, I have often been reminded of M'Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field), Ouiser Boudreaux (Shirley MacLaine), Annelle Dupuy Desoto (Darryl Hannah), Clairee Belcher (Olympia Dukakis), Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton), and Shelby Eatenton Latcherie (Julia Roberts). I can almost hear one of my friends say, "Oh, Sammy's so confused he don't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt” as Truvy Jones said in Steel Magnolias. Or the words of Ouiser Boudreaux; "I'm not crazy; I've just been a very bad mood for the last 40 years!" And Clairee Belcher's observation: "The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize."

That's when I started mulling over the thought that my friends are also Steel Magnolias. The Steel Magnolias of the play and movie portrays the lives of ordinary women going through situations that the average person can relate to. The characters are realistic and witty, and as the play progresses, their camaraderie and the community of the beauty salon become increasingly apparent. The strength of the characters ties them together through the best and worst of times. Even though our scenes are not from Truvy's beauty salon, ours is a Tuesday morning stained glass at a community college.

We have our own characters, one who in her experience included working in textiles, another worked for a local magazine, a retired school teacher, a retired Marine Corps officer, a veterinarian’s wife, a native of Pilipino, a computer applications teacher at the community college, and a true comedienne. She once told her present husband when he proposed that she didn't want a husband, she found them useless. She wanted a wife. After all who could take $300.00 a month and pay the mortgage, buy groceries, clothe the children and still have some left over.

I have designed for our group of stained glass artist a logo and it was featured on my birthday cake. I am so very proud to be "the one", the ex offico member of these Steel Magnolias.

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