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“A Magnum Opus”
Oakwood Literary Magazine
pub. OPEN PRAIRIE Open Public Research Access Institutional Repository and Information Exchange, 2018

          I first saw the Tea Bags perform at the Brule County Farm Show when I was in high school, a chubby adolescent girl mortified yet impressed by my mother’s willingness to make a fool of herself.



          It was a wooden performance that first night.  Peggy sidestepped around the stage, waving the plunger, and turning around now and then to work the crowd, a determined smile on her face. The Tea Bags appeared relieved when the number was over, and I suspect each lady prayed, as I did, that time would pass quickly.


          Peggy muttered, “Damn, you gals sounded like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing ragtime.  Now have fun!”


          By the time Peggy led the beat into “Bill Bailey,” the women were lost in the music, and they cavorted to a cacophony of discordant sounds—the thud of the bass, the twanging of the ukulele’s strings, the kreeching of metal against washboard ridges. The kazoos were angry bees buzzing around the stage, and the women danced as if a swarm were attacking them.  They shook their shoulders, tapped their feet, and bobbed their heads, the tea bags on their hats swaying so wildly I grew dizzy just watching them.


          Jonnie swayed back and forth, bent forward at the waist so deeply that her head nearly touched her knees and then instantly bent backwards so far that her breasts soared toward the ceiling.  In answer, Geneva broke from the pack and charlestoned across the stage, arms pumping around her ample hips, feet zigging and zagging in front of, behind, and around one another, the tail whirling behind her until she finally collapsed on the piano bench. “Damn, Marie. I thought I was having a heart attack.”



          Feeding off that energy, Peggy transformed into an ageless majorette high stepping from one side of the stage to the other, her back straight and her head held high, knees nearly touching her chest with each step as she directed the band with the festive toilet plunger, ribbons flashing. 


          Dixie waited until the other women had moved stage left and then made her play, which cemented her certain claim as the town’s only sex symbol.  She turned her back to the audience and wiggled her well-tuned fanny in its skin-tight capris then whipped herself around to repeat the fanny shake one more time. 


         The crowd went wild. 

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