When I grew up in Eureka, Kansas, I had no idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. My youth revolved around nature, I spent most of my childhood outside with my two younger sisters. We created our own world pretending to be the characters in mostly the books I was reading. My favorite place in the whole wide world was up in a tree whether cottonwood, elm, walnut or otherwise. If I could shimmy up in it, I would climb clear to the top and sway with the breeze in the branches. Then I discovered TARZAN!
I loved playing Tarzan. My sisters and I watched the movies mesmerized and I read all the books. I was a real tomboy as a kid, I truly identified with Scout of "To Kill a Mockingbird". I hated to wear dresses, anything girly, frilly, fou fou. When I discovered Tarzan, I thought man, he had it made. All he wore was an animal skin, how cool was that? Bare chested he would fly through the jungle swinging on these vines. I lost all the skin on my palms summer after summer of trying to swing out of my sisters and my tree houses. He made it look so easy. That was my dream and then I just realized, it still is my dream. When I grow up I want to be TARZAN!
I mean he rules the jungle. He has a great sidekick with Cheetah. All he has to do is this really cool yell and elephants come trumpeting! He was always fighting off the bad guys and me too, me too! Whether the neighborhood bully as a kid to those individuals as an adult that are forever trying to squelch my big dreams. Did I mention I love animals?
Yes, our dog Snickie we would pretend was Cheetah. We even taught him, a little Jack Russell like mutt, to climb a ladder up into our tree house. We always had to carry him down but hey, Tarzan always had Cheetah on his hip too!
Jane never interested me as she was too much like the real me, lame. She couldn't swing through the jungle, Tarzan always had to carry her around too. What a bummer! Everybody was always trying to get her. She was helpless and needy. Tarzan always had to come to her rescue. She had to wear a full animal skin like dress sheath, how constricting and man do I hate anything constricting. No, Tarzan had it going on. He was strong and brave. Tarzan ruled.
That was my childhood dream and fantasy, to be just like Tarzan. Then I realized as I was writing this, that I kind of have recreated that Tarzan world right here in Jefferson, Texas.
I have a really cool clubhouse, Beauty and the Book, where I can hang with all my friends, hmm, The Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Clubs! It's not a tree house but it is made of wood in the trees of East Texas. My bathroom is literally a jungle, come check it out!
I have not one sidekick, like Cheetah, I have now hundreds and hundreds of sidekicks, The Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club members. AND we all wear animal print, perhaps more yardage than Tarzan, but leopard our my favorite.
When I do my Tarzan yell, "WOO HOO", Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guy Book Club members come running, trumpeting too for literacy. Last night we had a whole stampede, as it was our annual Christmas Party!
We, like Tarzan, fight off the bad guys too, we call it illiteracy! We are on a sole mission to promote authors, books, literacy, and reading and also to help undiscovered authors get discovered in a big way!
So, yes, I have indeed become a Tarzan, so to speak, through my imagination that was fostered from librarians and teachers who mentored me that reading was important.
I now have my BOY too, actually it's my two girls, Helaina and Madeleine. I read to them before they were born and now can say they are big readers too. The TARZAN tradition and mission continues.
Now, my husband is, Jay, is no Jane. He convinced my children for years that the Johnny Weismuller photo I had framed in our house where he is clad in that scrap of animal skin standing up in a tree in all his Tarzan glory was Jay when he was younger. Everytime I see that photo, I still laugh. They bought that story big time.
And then one year I convinced Jay that we were to go as Tarzan and Jane for the Friends of the Library Literary Ball where you were to come as book characters. They shut down that event after our appearance. Yes, Jay wore only a scrap of animal skin over his skin colored speedos!
Come by my Beauty and the Book and I will show you the photo. I guarantee you'll get a good laugh. It's worth the trip, consider it a Tarzan adventure! It's a jungle alright, here at Beauty and the Book. I may have created my own world but it's world that is filled with books and for me that is heaven on earth!
Welcome to my jungle!
Kathy L. Patrick
Author of "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life", Grand Central Publishing
"Hairdresser to the Authors"
Founder of The Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club, now with 403 chapters, the largest "meeting an discussing" book club in the world!
Beauty and the Book, the ONLY Hair Salon/Book Store in the country!
608 North Polk Street
Jefferson, Texas 75657
P.S. I also have fantisized about being a professional roller skater, country western singer, getting my own book club talk show and winning an Emmy, starring on Broadway and winning a Tony, becoming an actor and winning an Oscar on the Academy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and perhaps being featured on "Dancing with the Stars"! Oh wait, that's my future. Hey, a girl can have dreams, big, big dreams! Dreams do come true when you become a "real" reader!