Miss Ya-Ya and a Brand New Car | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Miss Ya-Ya and a Brand New Car

Yesterday was one of my fullest, weirdest, most interesting days as an intern. I usually work Monday through Thursday, and I wonder if all Fridays at the JFP are like this.

First, ShaWanda and Maggie have had me photographing items for the Chick Ball auction guide. This may not sound too thrilling, but 1) I'm a nerd, and 2) yesterday a Styrofoam head was involved. Sweet Potato Queens had donated several items for the Chick Ball auction: a pink tote bag, a book about "preserving your assets" (wink wink), a pair of cat-eye sunglasses, a tiara...and a wig. Maggie showed me the items but wasn't sure how the wig should be photographed.

"You could put all the stuff on and I could take a picture of you..." I suggested.

"Yeeeaaah..." Not happening. So she called The Orange Peel and asked if they had a head we could borrow. They did. I set off in my car--I wasn't about to walk in the Mississippi heat while wearing a sweater and heels--and parked in front of Sneaky Beans, in the first open spot I saw.

Three or four people were playing a song with a quick-sliding zydeco rhythm on the Sneaky Beans porch. A kind of happy shyness overtook me, and I smiled out of the corner of my eye as I walked past the musicians. I saw an acoustic guitar, but I don't know what other instruments were present. I wondered if live music would still be special to me if I lived in the French Quarter or some other place where people were always playing. I reached no definite conclusion. On to Orange Peel.

As a Madison resident and lazy bum extraordinaire, I'd never been to the Orange Peel before. I know, I know. The place is pretty darn cool. I stood at the counter for a few minutes as Amber waited on a customer, and when the opportune moment came, I told her I was from the JFP. She had what we wanted--a white Styrofoam bust, bald-headed as anything, just perfect for our Sweet Potato Queens regalia. I walked back to my car with the head tucked under my arm. I was going places and doing things, by golly.

Back at the JFP, I set the bust on a small shelf sticking out from the wall in our storage room/photography studio. I took the wig out of its packaging and removed the spidery hairnet. The hair was long and copper-colored, the type of artificial auburn in Pantene commercials. I fitted the wig onto the bust, and beauty-queen curls descended half a foot below it. I untucked the bangs around the forehead, stood back and admired my work for a second, and took a photo.

Then came the black, 1950s-style sunglasses with tiny rhinestones in the corners. Finally, the tiara. Now Miss Ya-Ya Sisterhood really looked fabulous. I took another photo. Miss Ya-Ya would surely inspire amusement if she were seen walking (floating? being carried?) down the streets of Jackson, but she wore an expression of complete serenity--she owned that tiara. She looked like the only Miss America who didn't cry when she was crowned.

Later, as I was uploading my photos of Miss Ya-Ya onto the JFP server, Maggie said we needed a photo of Dan Blumenthal, co-owner and chef of Broad Street Bakery, with his new car. Huh? Apparently he was the first person in America to buy this car, whatever it was, and we were doing a story on it in the JFP Daily. So I gathered up my camera and drove to Banner Hall.

I parked on the side and saw a fancy-looking silver thing that looked "new," and I thought that might be it. But when Blumenthal introduced himself and took me out back to look at his car, I couldn't help but say, "Oh wow." To me, it looked like the sports-car version of a Model T Ford (if you've seen the photo, then you know I don't know much about automobiles). This low-slung, black convertible roadster was parked near the dumpsters--not exactly a great photo op--so Blumenthal said we could go right across I-55 to the BRAVO! parking lot. (He and Jeff Good own Broad Street Bakery, BRAVO!, and Sal & Mookie's.) After looking around and making sure I couldn't take the photo where we were, I said that would be a good idea.

Then he made the offer. "Do you want to just ride with me?" I made a pathetic attempt to ponder the ethics of the situation but quickly responded, "Yeah, sure." (Yay!)

He said he needed to tell me how to get into the car, and I gave him my bulky camera to hold. "Put your left foot in," he said, and I did, still standing. "Now put your right hand here." He pointed to the black bar behind the seat, and I did as directed, balancing on my left foot as I stepped into the car with my right. I slid down into my seat, my legs straight out in front of me under the dashboard. I was probably sitting seven or eight inches off the ground. Blumenthal returned my camera to me and I put it in my lap, along with my phone and car keys (ah, my non-cool car keys).

"It's really good, once you're in," he said. I didn't remember to find and fasten my seatbelt until I saw that he had his on.

As we backed away from the building, he explained that the car ran on a motorcycle engine, which by default has no reverse gear: So "they," whoever they are, had to build a reverse gear into it. Hmmm.

Before we pulled out of the Banner Hall parking lot onto Frontage Road, Blumenthal turned to me and said, "You don't have a weak stomach, do you?"

"Nah," I replied, with just a little more confidence than I felt. If we wrecked in this thing, we'd look like a smashed-up Coke can. "Plus I haven't eaten since like, 8:30, so..." He seemed more than satisfied with this.

We peeled out. He gathered speed like it was going out of style and stopped reluctantly at the red light at Meadowbrook. (Is it just me, or do stick-shift drivers refuse to slow down until the last second?) The light changed to green and we turned left. Blumenthal switched to higher and higher gears in quick succession and whizzed past a couple of cars before turning left again. I hadn't thought to put my hair up. It was now tangled beyond salvage.

After taking three photos of Blumenthal in his car at BRAVO!, I handed him my camera and went through the car-entrance process again: left foot, right hand, right foot, slide down, legs out. I was a pro. I put my stuff in my lap, took the hair-tie off my wrist and twisted my hair into a tangled bun. Off we went again.

He drove even faster on the way back, I guess since I hadn't screamed on the way over. This time I had to close my eyes: I didn't want to know how we were getting around all those cars or how close we were to imminent death.

But that 30-second car ride was the most fun--I mean yell-out-loud, jump-up-and-down fun--I'd had in a long time. When I felt myself being sloshed toward the front of the car as Blumenthal slowed down (again, at the last second), I opened my eyes. We drove around to the side of Banner Hall where I was parked, and I handed him my camera as I reversed the car-entrance process. "Thanks so much," I said as he handed the camera back.

I entered my Toyota Corolla--butt and right leg first, then the left leg--and squealed like a little girl. Reeling with giddiness and ridiculously proud of the messy bun on the back of my head, I returned to the JFP office. I would spend the next four hours working on a story, and I would enjoy it. But for now, I was more than a mere journalist. I was Katie Eubanks, Wig Stylist and Road Warrior.

Previous Comments

ID
149806
Comment

Dang. Can I come back as an intern again? Please and thanks.

Author
Sophie
Date
2009-07-18T21:16:46-06:00
ID
149808
Comment

I don't know Katie...I'm starting to think you don't like me. First you leave me in the dark in the restroom and then you spell my name wrong. I'm going to have to watch my back around you. ~ShaWanda

Author
ShaWanda Jacome
Date
2009-07-18T22:25:39-06:00
ID
149811
Comment

How delightful! I had no idea you had such a "Ya-Ya" day yesterday, Katie! And thanks so much for all your hard work this summer. I don't want you to leave. :-(

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-07-19T12:04:13-06:00
ID
149813
Comment

Great story Katie! I smiled and giggled through it all.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2009-07-19T13:49:59-06:00
ID
149818
Comment

Fun story.

Author
ShaWanda Jacome
Date
2009-07-19T17:16:08-06:00
ID
149838
Comment

To ShaWanda: Gah, I THOUGHT it was an "a," not an "e," but then I could've sworn you signed a birthday card "Shewanda." Guess I can't read your handwriting. :P

Author
katie316
Date
2009-07-20T10:25:10-06:00
ID
149860
Comment

funny

Author
gdman13
Date
2009-07-20T18:44:41-06:00
ID
149866
Comment

This is great, Katie! Those kind of days are always amusing, eh? And, yes, every Friday is a freaky one. ;)

Author
maggie
Date
2009-07-21T06:45:45-06:00

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