Posts Tagged ‘charm school


i was a charm school dropout

When I was in the tenth grade, my dad got the most outrageous idea to enroll my little sister and me in thirteen weeks of Charm School. To add insult to injury, he kept it a secret and surprised us.

The day came when my little sister and I were dropped off at the mall. We entered the room, unsure of what we were doing there. Inside was a group of young ladies, roughly our age, ready to learn social graces, to put make-up on faces, the proper way to sit with your legs crossed, and how to walk with a book balanced on your head. We felt like fish out of water.

The instructor told us that at the end of the thirteen weeks there would be a fashion show in the center of the mall where we would all get the chance to perform as models. My blood literally ran cold. There was no way that I was going to get all glammed up and prance down the middle of the mall. I may have been into all kinds of activities and had a wide range of friends when I was in high school, but an aspiring beauty queen I most definitely was not.

So my sister and I devised a plan. We told a little white lie to my mother that the other girls were mean to us and we dreaded going back. She granted us a reprieve from the remaining sessions. We were safe; embarrassment averted. Fast forward several months when my father, who traveled 300 days a year in those days, was home for dinner.

He asked how the fashion show went and my mother calmly told him that my sister and I didn’t fit in and had stopped going. He nodded and nothing more was said. Knowing my father, I should have known that wouldn’t be the end of it, and it wasn’t.

For the next thirty years of my life, right up until the day he entered the gates of Heaven, whenever he would see me talking to a single man, he would run up to the unsuspecting male and interject, “Did she tell you she flunked out of charm school???”

I would quickly remind him that I did not “flunk out”, I “quit” to which he would go off on another impromptu speech about the evils of quitting and the disease that quitters have. Needless to say, he definitely got the last laugh. Years after the fact, I asked him what on earth he was thinking when he signed my little sister and me up. He told me that he thought we’d enjoy it and learn some culture.

Even though I was a tomboy, I had traveled all over the country with my father and sat in the midst of some of the greatest teachers in the world at some of the most exotic locations on earth. The last thing I figured I needed was culture. I may have been a nerd/dork/band geek with a bad perm and a chipped front tooth, but I was a reader, a leader, and loved to make people laugh. What could charm school possibly teach me?

This is still one of the mysteries of my upbringing and a clear example of how two people in the same situation can have a totally different interpretation. Remember, before you try to make someone “better”, stop to consider all the amazing things you’ve already done for them and realize that they are already charming enough!


i was a charm school dropout

Once, without warning or explanation, my father took me and my little sister to a charm school where they try to teach normal girls to act like ladies. After training us to sit properly and to chew our gum without snapping it, we discovered that we’d be given the wondrous opportunity to participate in a fashion show at one of the local shopping malls.

This horrified us. The concept of strutting down a runway in front of our peers was unthinkable. We were tomboys through and through and there’s no way we would live long enough to earn back all of the “cool points” that we would lose on that single day. Faced with this looming crisis, my sister and I quickly devised a scheme whereby we would never have to return.

We successfully bid farewell to the charm school; but my father, never one to be outsmarted, decided henceforth he would blurt out to every single man I met, “Did she tell you she flunked out of charm school?!” This went on for decades (and ceased only upon his physical death!) and provided an endless source of amusement at our family table, church and business meetings. When I finally got up the nerve to ask my father why he signed us up for Charm School, he said that he thought we’d enjoy learning a bit of refinement and etiquette. So his motives were in the right place; however, he was a bit weak on his transparency. I will tell you this, however: had I been asked if I wanted to go to charm school I can tell you what the immediate response would have been!

My father was mischievous. While he insisted that he never directed what we did with our lives, he did confess to a great deal of psychological meddling. I remember times when we’d go to camp for a week and when it was time to leave he’d inform me that I was staying behind to work for the rest of the summer! I remember when he returned from New Mexico Military Institute after a leadership speech and strategically placed a brochure on the table stating that the kids who went there were really going to amount to something. I remember him telling me that if I could master the art of cold-call, door-to-door sales, anything in life would be a cinch.

In each instance, I took the bait. And boy was I glad I did. I learned to work hard during my summers; vacations are still a weird concept to me. I gained admittance to and graduated from a military academy, resulting in a wonderful opportunity to serve my country. I learned how to communicate with people within seconds and adeptly handle rejection. My father’s methods may sound unorthodox when you compare them to many contemporary parenting books, but I learned firsthand to land on my feet and shake off failure no matter what the situation.

 So here’s to the mischievous parent—may they continue to outwit children and youth for years to come!

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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July 2020

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