I’m writing this blog post about writing, two old, belly-dancing grandmothers and how they make me a better writer.
Yep, you read it correctly. I’ll give you a minute to digest that.
I belong to a belly dance class that includes women of all ages and body types. You wouldn’t think that women whose bodies aren’t perfect would want to belly dance, but they do. Our class consists of beautiful women who come in all shapes and sizes.
I’d like to tell you about two of them. Their lives look normal on the outside: farm wives, grandmothers, and churchgoers. But if you look close, you’ll find two of the funniest and most engaging women I know.
They’ve been best friends since they were girls and know when each other so well that when they talk, they fill in each other’s sentences. I’ll demonstrate that as I tell you about them.
They live in a small, Wisconsin town and are happily married to brothers.
“It’s not that we loved them. We just needed two willing and related males.”
“Yeah, we wanted to stay friends and so we tricked the poor brothers into marrying us.”
“It’s not like we love them or anything.”
“Nope, we’ve just fooled ‘em for over thirty years.”
“Is it creepy that I married a boy because of his brother’s interest in my best friend?”
They are active in their church. Very active.
“We’ve got a new pastor coming.”
“We drove the last one away in just three years.”
“That’s a new record for us!”
“He just never got used to our sense of humor, and I think we scared him.”
“And so this new guy is filling his spot. He’s pretty young—“
“We love getting fresh seminary meat every so once in a while. Keeps church from getting too boring.”
And they love to belly dance—in bright red hip scarves covered in tinkling coins.
“I’ve grown that butt a long time now, and it’d be a pity not to show it off.”
“Besides, when I shimmy and wiggle, the coins on my hinder jingle for a long time afterward. It’s a nice sound, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, we all love it when your butt makes music for us.”
Even though arthritis has set in and they have a hard time getting up the stairs, much less dancing in Middle Eastern Style, they go after the moves with vigor. They even practice at home.
“When I do a chest lift, the only thing that moves is my shoulders. My husband helps by pulling on my bra until my boobs lift.”
“I got thirty buck from my grandkids not to show my dancing to their friends! Cha-ching!”
“I tried practicing while I did the dishes, and my daughter-in-law ran in thinking I needed CPR.”
So what do they have to do with writing? Everything.
They love life in a way I rarely see and a way I greatly envy. They live larger than life in a small town in Wisconsin and ignore the ravages of time to do what they want. And they don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. I love that.
More importantly, I’m going to end up writing a story about them. Not them, necessarily, but characters like them. Trust me, those two ladies will end up in a book somewhere.
I was asked recently where I got the ideas for the stories I’m constantly writing. I tell them to look around. The wonderful, crazy, amazing things in life are everywhere. Watch, look and really listen and you’ll have more material than you can possibly work with.
And don’t be afraid if what you see scares you, like belly dancing grandmas. Those often end up being are the best things in life.