Sir: I’m Not that Kind of Girl
Imagine becoming a show girl and having deal with the indignities of getting your costume and being told what is wrong with some parts of your body. Mary entered this room and was told that the costume had to fit in a certain way, or she would not be able to dance. The prologue is the start of what would later be her career but first she takes us back in time to her childhood, the fun times she had with her parents and the parts I loved the best with her Grandma A and her different grandpas.
From a rural community in California Mary tells us about her life dealing with chickens, farm work, learning to shoot a gun, even using a can to urinate. Entertaining during family gatherings, dressing up in her grandmother and mother’s clothes and often the center of attention. Her antics are priceless, and her childhood is filled with playing family games, listening to the radio since television was not invented during this time and learning how to deal with rural life. Her father was in the army and her mother had a job as a spy during the war leaving her to be with one of her grandparents. Every step of the way her humor comes through as Mary takes us on many journeys and trips in her life.
I really loved when she talks about going to Church and how long it took for her family to reach their destination as her parents were quite popular and were called upon to meet and greet everyone along the way including when they reached the church. Her family seemed close but the story about her grandfather and how he taught her to hit a nail, plane and using a can when she needed to go, was priceless. She never seemed sad and always looked at the upside of everything.
Stardom was her goal and every step of the way she tried to excel. Meeting her Aunt and her new husband the opera singer was a turning point for her and listening to him sing was amazing. Mary was inquisitive and hoped to find friends to play with but there were not many, so an older woman became her friend and playing partner and she learned about vegetables, gardening and even plugging and killing chickens.
Her life was not ordinary by any means and the pictures within the memoir bring it to life even more.
Tell readers about her school life and then starting out in many phases of dancing, modeling and the failures in high school and the many dance troupes she entered provided much of the memoir. Moving around from place to place, her father’s career in the navy and sharing what happened when he was given penicillin brings her story to life even more. Receiving her Swan Lake album and even the incident with a boy on top of her, the many things she shares are filled with humor and fun.
Chapter 42 her friendship with Vanessa, the baseball game and the fact that she was now living way from home provided many challenges. Learning that not all older men are trustworthy the incident with the custodian was enlightening and the picture of her dancing on page 107 was the start of many times she would share the stage or want to show off her dancing talents.
The pictures of her and the other girls in their short black costumes and then the steak dinner with Vanessa in chapter 42 learning the ropes about how to deal with men and more.
Known as a working girl and then the episode with the jewel thief brings the realities of the world to light for her.
After the war her she found herself in Suburbia with the acting bug inside of her only her fourth- grade teacher would give her a chance. Dancing and acting might be her passion but like many of the other girls, Mary Lynn had to fight off the advances to protect her honor and virtue. Dealing with the men, never wanting to insult one that offered her a meal, could do wonders for your waistline but not exactly the way she hoped. Chapter 44 deals with someone named Alexei and the art of seduction. He was a window dresser at Gumps.
A life filled with ups and downs, wild rides and a college experience in San Francisco State College that was as she states a hotbed of hi jinx and liberal politics. Meeting the ill-fated Gerald began with a meeting and an attraction. A steady visitor for dinner and her roommate felt uncomfortable and you can’t blame her when there was only one bedroom and she did not have a boyfriend. But Gerald managed his way to get her into bed and sometimes you do things that you might regret.
Talking about her time as a chorus girl in the chapter titled Stage Door Johnnies and finally a man in her life: I love a man in uniform and what happens when the man at the deli wanted to put her on the menu!
The final chapters focus on the USO and how the author and five other girls were to report to Travis Air Force Base and do a USO show for the troops. She highlights the show and some issues that occurred on the flight followed by Life of the Party which highlights a party in a walkup on Columbus and what happens that she and her friend Claire would not retain their friendship anyone nor was she invited to anymore of her evenings at her apartment. She married her high school sweetheart and the epilogue sums it up and how her memories reminded her that people lie, dreams are not always fulfilled and are their parents like Ozzie and Harriet in the present and the past? But, her final thoughts and how she views her past and present you must read in this part of the book and take the journey along with Mary Lynn and understand folks: Sir: she’s not that kind of girl. Humor, tears, hardship and true-life experiences that everyone can and might identify with.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews