Cowgirl – Dalmatia Flemming

Cowgirl – Dalmatia Flemming


Francie Jones stood back and looked at the assortment of costume and regular clothing items, various sizes and colors of plastic garbage bags, cardboard boxes and other assorted craft and household items that she had spread across her bed.  Come on inspiration … on creativity ….


Francie sighed heavily.  What could she be on Halloween?  It had to be something that incorporated a skirt or something that would cover her legs to mid-calf and she had to be able to dance in it.  And it had to be almost the complete opposite of a cowgirl.


You see, Francie was bowlegged, I mean REALLY bowlegged.


And she was attempting to become a professional ballerina.  She had been accepted into a very prestigious professional ballet school, however she was on probation.  Why?  Because of the damned bowed legs, that’s why!  Which brings along with it a few other physical effects that are not prized in the world of ballet … poor “turnout” and poor hip “extension”.  But because Francie rose above it all so fabulously and offered SO much more than any detraction created by her so called bodily shortcomings, she was accepted into the school anyway.


The name calling started back in early grade school.  Not only was she bowlegged, but she was skinny as well.  “Skinny” according to everyone else, that is.  Francie liked to think of herself as “slender” or “willowy”.


There was “Skinny Bones Jones” and “Jones the Bones”.




“Yes Dear.”


“Am I skinny?”


“No Dear, you’re just right! ……… “You just wait, when you’re all grown up, everyone else will be fat except you, and they’ll all be wishing that they were like you!”


At the time Francie bought that answer, but was a little confused by the qualification, which seemed to contradict the first statement.  Obviously her mother was trying to preserve her daughter’s self-esteem.


… Anyway … REAL CLEVER!  Bones rhymes with Jones, whoop de do, so the little brats are a bunch of geniuses!  But the skinny thing DID come in handy for ballet so take THAT all of you bratty little geniuses!


Then it was “Cowgirl”.  Cowgirl … Francie didn’t even know what a cowgirl was the first time she heard it, being a big city girl and all.  And today if you were to surf the internet on “cowgirl”, you’ll just find a bunch of stripper outfits or references to certain activities performed in the privacy of one’s bedroom.  Nothing about REAL cowgirls!  Or at least, you’ll have to scroll WAY down for that!




“Yes Dear.”


“What’s a cowgirl?  Bobby called me a cowgirl and I don’t even know what a cowgirl is.  Is it a girl cowboy or is it half a cow and half a girl?  ”


“It’s a girl cowboy” mom said laughing.  “You know, riding horses and roping cattle, wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.  Let’s look up cowgirl and see what we find.”


So she and mom did a little research.


WOW!  Cowgirls were cool!  So Francie decided to embrace her bowed legs and go with it!  The first thing Saturday morning, Francie and her mom went out and bought her some cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat.


As the years went by, Francie started to slowly collect an assortment of cowgirl accoutrements and subtlety and sometimes not so subtlety incorporated them into her daily attire.  Eventually Cowgirl became Francie’s official nickname.


She became an expert on cowgirl history and was pleased that a few famous cowgirls shared her name.  There was Fannie Sperry Steele; Fannie, that’s’ pretty close to being Francie.  And Francie’s middle name was Anne so of course there was Annie Oakley and Wild Horse Annie.


And there were SO many other inspirational cowgirls throughout history (or herstory).  The main thing they had in common was that they were independent and would NOT be limited by arbitrary societal norms of what girls and women should or shouldn’t do!


… The costume … maybe some sort of animal?  …  Francie thoughtfully selected a few items from her bed, and then arranged the articles on the floor like a person with the headpiece farthest from her, then the bodice and arms, then the legs, then the shoes closest to her.  Something was always not quite right….


… The company was going to perform George Balanchine’s “Square Dance” in the spring.  Francie couldn’t wait.  In fact, she would almost rather make the costumes for it instead of dance it.  She would probably be paired to dance with Steve.  They had been paired together a lot lately because they had the same dance quality and were a good size for each other.  Francie thought of the nickname that Steve made up for her, a more vernacular version of Cowgirl that seemed to imply a certain level of intimacy between them, probably because he would only call her that when no one else was around.  Francie blushed.  She didn’t really like the nickname.  She thought it was annoying.  She used to think that Steve was a jerk.  She kind of felt like punching him in the mouth when she heard that name.  But lately she found herself thinking of other things that she might do with Steve.  Francie blushed again.


… After a few frustrating costume attempts, Francie went back to her closet and gazed in.  Whatever she was going to be, it had to incorporate the cowgirl spirit because that’s what Francie was deep down to her core.  Her costume had to incorporate that spirit without being outwardly cowgirl.


… What’s this … Francie’s cap and gown from her high school graduation?  Francie tried it on.  It came down to her mid-calf.  Could she do a grand battement?  Francie kicked her leg really high to the front.  The gown almost ripped.  Hmmm … maybe she could open the side seems a bit at the bottom and create a slit for some extra kicking room.


Now for a “Miss America” style identifying sash.  Francie took a piece of white sheet and ripped it into a long sash shape.  She carefully wrote “Unites States Supreme Court Justice” twice, so that it would show in the front and the back.


About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on November 10, 2015, in Fiction, Seattle, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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