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Detra’s story

Part 2

“When I was a little girl there were two records in our house that weren’t church music. One was a single of a kid named Jimmy singing ‘I saw Mommy kissing Santa Clause.’ And the other was Nat King Cole. We weren’t allowed to dance. So I’d put on Nat King Cole whenever I vacuumed, just so I could move to the music. That velvety voice would woo me out of the world in which I lived, and into a world of richness, and emotions, and magic. I memorized every song: ‘Ain’t She Sweet,’ ‘Unforgettable,’ ‘L-O-V-E.’ I’d sing along with the harmonies: ‘Love, is all that I can give to you. Love, was made for me and you.’ Boy, did I wish someone would sing to me like that. But nobody I knew sang love songs. We were Fundamental Baptists. Southern Baptists are the ones you see on the news for being so conservative, but Fundamental Baptists are much more conservative than that. We never even had a TV in our house. But we did have a library card. And that’s how I was introduced to the world of Christian Romance novels. These were tame. But I’d bring them home six at a time, because they were all I had. At least until 7th Grade, when I discovered Ms. Johnson kept harlequin romance novels on the back shelf of our classroom. These were the real thing. On the cover there would always be this young, innocent girl. And some worldly-wise guy would be staring right into her eyes. It was like: ‘Oh wow.’ I wanted someone to look at me like that. But I never went on dates. In Baptist College I was voted ‘most naive’ three years in a row. At night I’d sit outside our dorm and sing lullabies. Boys would fill up the benches around me. All my life men have been drawn to me—I will say that. Because what I offer is rich. I met my husband in the school ensemble, and he’d always find a way to sit next to me. He wasn’t exactly a character from a romance novel, but he had a ventriloquist puppet named Clovis. Clovis was black. And to be honest I fell in love with Clovis before my husband. My husband was meek. It was Clovis that told me I was beautiful. It was Clovis that called me on the phone. And one evening when we were eating supper with my family, it was Clovis that got down on one knee.”

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