How to be Queen…For a Lifetime

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on October 17, 2007


The end of October is slowly creeping our way, and I just ordered myself 50 LED blinkies, which I plan on pinning one by one onto a skirt of mine in order to complete the transformation from mere muggle to firefly. This may seem slightly ridiculous, but I’m a huge fan of costumery. Dressing up gives me the chance to embody an entirely different persona, one I’ve perhaps always wished to embody in my day-to-day, but have been unable to because of sheer wussiness.

Dude. I wish I could do this every day.

A completely genius group of women, known as the Sweet Potato Queens, actually do do this every day, and their enduring queenliness stands as a testament to their willpower and admirable sass.

About five years ago, my best college buddy, a girl from Alabama, introduced me to the holy grail ofwomanly southern humor — The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love. Therein, I was introduced to the women who became known as the Sweet Potato Queens, purely of their own volition. The story goes thusly:

Once upon a time, a bevy of beauties in Jackson, Mississippi took it upon themselves to dress up for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They donned green gowns and lush red wigs, and lobbed actual sweet potatoes at the cheering crowd! They were such a hit that they came to adopt these alternate personae as a new way of life. There are now a plethora of copycat groups around the country. And who can blame these wannabe queens!? I learned some of the most important lessons of my life from Jill Conner Browne and the SPQs. Some gems:

  • “Be particular.”
  • “…always shave your legs.”
  • “…always wear pretty underwear on account of you just never know.” (It’s too bad that all I own anymore are granny panties.)
  • “Never Wear Panties to a Party.”
  • On vibrators: “That one of the greatest boons to womankind was actually invented to make life easier for men is okay by us.” (Amen.)
  • “Any failure on our part to know and do the right thing is no reflection on us, personally, even if we happen to be fifty-five years old and our mamas have been dead for thirty years at least. No, if we commit some unspeakable social faux pas…the blame for it will be places at the door of our mamas.” (This is just amazing, mainly because of how insightful it is.)
  • “Treat ’em like shit and never give ’em any.” (This is in reference to romantic relationships and, as counterintuitive as it may seem, I must admit that the guys in my life who have been the most persistent are the ones I’ve tried most desperately to dodge and scare off.)

I feel wary of going into any great detail here, or placing into context any of the lines quoted above. I mean, this book just can’t be described in a way that does it any sort of justice. What you have to do is just read it through yourself while at the same time imagining every word pronounced in a thick, southern accent. I mean, that just makes it a trillion times better.

What I can say is that, at the heart of things, beyond the shits and giggles the SPQs provide in this book, it becomes clear that you can become anything you damn well please, purely by the magical power of attitude (and these ladies have it in spades).

Before I go, I need to tell you about my most favorite part ever of this book, and the number one reason you have to check it out. In Chapter 12, Browne presents “What to Eat When Tragedy Strikes.” And as she explains it:

All tragedy is relative, of course. It could be anything from a car or plumbing failure to the death of the only woman in the world who has ever been able to give you a really great haircut. If you’re in any way upset by something — it’s a tragedy.

And then the first recipe she presents is…Chocolate Stuff.

God, I feel like I should be putting those words in a 10-foot-high, flourishy font.

Thing is, during our college years, whenever me & my buddy were feeling a bit…emotional…we would whip up a batch of chocolate stuff and then maybe watch When Harry Met Sally and cry while eating the chocolatey concoction with spoons, on the floor, straight out of the pan, and everything would just be better. It was like a mix of brownies and chocolate pudding and nothing I’ve had before or since has been quite so magical. Please. God. Make it. You’ll see.

(p.s. The SPQs have a number of books out now, among them The Sweet Potato Queens’ Big-Ass Cookbook, which also includes Chocolate Stuff, in addition to a number of other unhealthy recipes that do their part in balancing cravings for the sweet and the salty.)

So yes. I’m going to be a firefly this holiday season, but I aim to be a queen every other day.


2 Responses to 'How to be Queen…For a Lifetime'

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  1. Diva said,

    I met some of the “Sweet Potato Queens”. Boy, are they not nice! There were a couple of them in Jackson that were sweet, but the majority of them were drunk and disgusting, foul-mouthed women. No wonder they hang together and hate on men. I seriously doubt any man other than a one-armed, deaf truck driver would put up with any of these women!

  2. stephanerd said,

    That is so heartbreaking! I’ve never made a trip to the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade to see the SPQs, but I’ve always loved their (written) humor. And I never really interpreted their lessons as “hate[ing] on men,” but rather, well, let’s just say I never really took the things they said literally.

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