Me and Lulu from “Hee Haw”.
God tapped me on the shoulder one night.
I was about four-years-old, and I was in my bed. Suddenly, I felt a couple of pokes on my shoulder. Huge inhale. I froze. I turned over to see who it was. No one was there. But I knew it was My Maker.
When I was six, I told my mother I could see the air. I saw little squiggles, grey amoebas swimming around, interlocked like lace, pulsing like my heart, vibrating in my soul.
As I recall these two mystical, inexplicable events, there emerges from the mist of my memory a person who ties up my childhood celestial imaginings in a neat, nice bow. She brings it all together as a beckon of meaning – someone who was sent from Above to give me a message.
Through the haze in my mind she is standing behind my dad’s receptionist desk inside his beauty salon. She is leaning over and grasping my upturned hand and reading my palm. She’s telling me what my astrological chart says about me, what my 10-year-old self could expect in the years to come.
Lulu was a vivacious, perky woman with a sweet smile you could just fall into. She held my hand gingerly like it was a pearl. Her hands were soft, but firm. Her soul was overflowing, generous. She had oceans to share. I awaited with high hopes about what she would tell me about my life.
“You are very important,” she said to me, her eyes gleaming with light and hope.
“You will do big, important things in your life. You have a reason to be here,” she said. “When you were born, you had all your planets in the House of Theater. This means,” she said with a delicate, short breath, “you have a voice that must be heard.”
She had given me my mission. My marching orders from the universe.
Lulu was not the receptionist at my dad’s salon – she was just filling in for my grandmother who usually worked the desk. She was married to Woody, one of my dad’s “operators.” That’s the word he used to describe his employees, the hairdressers who worked for him. Here is a photo that my mother found in a box she was cleaning out after my father died.
Last I heard of Woody and Lulu, they had divorced and he had moved to Branson. Rumor had it that there was a lot of retirement homes from all over the country that took excursions to this Country Vegas Amusement Park. His specialty was back-combing, teasing and coifs. The ladies loved him and he, them.
Lulu’s proclamation of the trajectory of my life went in and out of my mind for years afterward. Her long career as a comedian and entertainer, and her larger-than-life persona hung in my heart, as did her prediction for my life’s path.
I had not looked into Lulu for years. Until a few days ago when I googled her.
I was astonished to see that she had transformed herself and lost 200 pounds. Her Website had a list of her accomplishments and awards that was never ending – and impressive. Here are a few, starting with the most recognized:
- 1968-1995 – Regular cast member on “Hee Haw.”
- 1980 – Guest performer at the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan
- 1999 – Inducted into the Country Music Gospel Hall of Fame
- 2008 – Inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame
Here she is with Dolly Parton, another larger-than-life entertainer.
What seemed the most miraculous was her total and utter transformation. I, too, have transformed through the years. And here is my story, my Soul on Parade that I performed at the Wyly Theatre in downtown Dallas in a storytelling show, “Oral Fixation.”
In the eight-minute piece, I detail the irony of pulling out all my hair and having a hairdresser for a father. This, and my crazy journey through corrective shoes, sneaking boys into my room as a teenager, suicidal ideation in Manhattan and finally, freedom in sobriety.
I am still searching for the meaning of my childhood intersection with the iconic Lulu in my dad’s beauty salon. Is it that I love to laugh, love to “hee haw” and have a good ‘ole time? That if asked to choose between sex and laughter, it would be a big toss up? That my wish to shed my “thirty pounds of life” can be a reality?
Truth is, I have no final answer to any of this, like on that Millionaire show. But the true piece of info I can impart is that my story, and Lulu’s, is still unfolding. My mission is still in play. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet to discover my purpose.
Perhaps that’s the beauty of it all.