This piece is from my Fiction Writing Class that I took during sophomore year at University of Colorado Denver. The assignment required us to start off with the line “I don’t know where we used to get our pumpkins as a kid.” So I just took that sentence and let my thoughts run wild…
Betty Crocker Wears a Wig
I don’t know where we used to get our pumpkins as a kid. My mom always kept it this hidden secret, but I didn’t care, she made the best pumpkin pie on the block. I often wondered if my mother was actually Betty Crocker wearing a disguise. Her food was some of the best I had ever eaten and till this day, at the age of 25, I won’t eat any one else’s pumpkin pie except for hers.
A humble woman at first glance, my mom is actually quite secretive by nature. For so many years I actually thought the hair growing out of her scalp was all hers. Her hair was the envy of all the mothers in our neighborhood and my friends from school dreamed of growing up with hair like hers. I too, daydreamed about having cascading curls and being the envy of all the women. But it was all a masquerade, an act.
For years my mother pranced throughout the neighborhood in designer labels. Her look was flawless and it seemed as though all the men in the neighborhood had their eyes on her, but nobody dared crossed my father. My father was the all American working class dad, except with the privilege of luxury. My dad would always pick my brother Trent and me up from school in his 1982 Mercedes-Benz 450SL.
His car, matched with my mother’s designer clothing, set us apart from the other families. Our family was in the upper echelon, a status almost comparable to the Kennedys. I was always proud to brag about being a Meadow. Everyone on our block was proud to see our success, but they were secretly waiting for the day when it all came crashing down.
It’s kind of hard waiting for something to crash, when it was never established. When I look back on my childhood, all the minor details finally make sense. If you would have told me at the age of 10 that my family was living on minimum wage and barely making ends meet, I would have never believed it.
My childhood seemed like this perfect fairytale of a Black family achieving the American dream, but it was all a lie, even my mom’s hair was an art of deception. My very own Betty Crocker was an average woman that picked up a fifty-dollar wig from the beauty supply store, the one next to the liquor store where I caught my dad buying cheap wine.
I never told my father I saw him at the liquor store and I never told anyone, not even my brother that I caught our mom taking off her wig one day. I wanted to keep that flawless Betty Crocker image of my mom and the luxury fine wine image of my dad. The Meadow family name was elite, we weren’t supposed to be buying cheap wine and wearing wigs. But I guess back then, I was naïve, blinded by the vision of a perfect American family.