November 4, 2014

Big Sexy Hair & Marlboro Reds

This past weekend, I went to the most memorable 50th birthday party. It was unique, lively and one-of-a-kind...perfect for its guest of honor. When I first heard this party was in the works, I wasn't sure I could get on board with the theme.

"Big Sexy Hair & Marlboro Reds." 

A 50th birthday is definitely something to be celebrated but you might be wondering just what is so special about hair spray and cigarettes.

Let me back up a little. The party was for my Aunt Bo. Her real name is Karen, but as the first niece on that side of the family, I gave her the name Bo. 

I have racked my brain trying to remember what inspired me to start using this moniker, but I honestly cannot remember. Just all my life she's been Bo to me (and every other subsequent child in our family). 

My Aunt Bo is one-of-a-kind. One quality that comes to mind when I think of her is how fiercely loyal she is. As my brother likes to say "Bo would kill someone for you" (and he's only half joking). 

When I was a baby, my Bo was still in high school and all my life I've heard stories about how she'd skip class to drive to Knoxville with my grandparents to visit me and my mom. 

After my parents divorced and we moved back to the town my mom was from, I spent a lot more time with my aunt. As a kid, I vividly remember her taking me to Hardee's in the morning. She'd get a steak biscuit (with mustard) and a huge Mountain Dew while I'd have a two-pack of cinnamon raisin biscuits with orange juice. On my birthday, she'd always take me shopping for a new outfit at Goody's. 

It was also my aunt who let me drive a car for the first time...on a country back road through "the swamp" near our family farm. I was 11 years old and the car was some gray behemoth, probably an 80-something model Oldsmobile. I had no idea what I was doing and I floored the gas pedal, causing us to lurch forward. It would be several years before I finally learned to drive for real, but this early lesson gave me a feeling of accomplishment. 

Something else I'll always appreciate my aunt for is trying to help me straighten my hair. It was 1995 and Jennifer Aniston's "Rachel" hairdo was all the rage. My mom was at a loss for what to do with my frizzy locks, but my aunt would sit for hours, sectioning my hair off in small pieces, using a giant barrel curling iron to try and smooth it for me. I thought I was so beautiful with my bouncy straight mane...little did I know that it looked more like a lampshade. 

I can never chronicle all the things my Aunt Bo has done for me or all the wonderful memories we have together. Life has for sure had its ups and downs, but she is a strong person and she never stops doing good for the people she loves. 

My Aunt Bo and Me 

When her group of girlfriends decided to throw her a surprise 50th birthday party, they wanted it to be something she'd really enjoy. 

My aunt is quite frugal. She shops at Goodwill and buys off-brand items regularly. But apparently she has said before that no matter how poor she might find herself, there are two things she will never skimp on. You guessed it...Big Sexy Hairspray and Marlboro Reds. In honor of her dedication to these products, her friends centered her party around them. 

It was actually very lovely, even with the packs of cigarettes in the centerpieces. Only in the south, right? 

The southern aunt is something of an institution. I can think of so many people who had/have a special aunt with whom they made all sorts of wonderful childhood memories. Then you grow up and your special aunt becomes this awesome cheerleader of sorts, celebrating your triumphs and being mad with you when things don't go your way. It's like the next closest thing to your mom, but without all the bad memories of hating her when you were a teenager. 

My dad's special aunt was the first person to serve him Mexican food, specifically tacos, when he was a kid. He still tells this story and recounts his awe at this exotic dish. 

My beau has a special aunt too, like a second mom really, who is a very important part of his life.

I have other special aunts who've also impacted my life in different ways. I am so fortunate to have these folks in my corner and I'm glad I could help celebrate my Aunt Bo's big birthday! Here are some photos of her brunch party...

Me, my grandma & my mom before my aunt arrived 

My mom and her dear friend, who is also sort of like an aunt to me

the lovely brunch spread, complete with the most delicious cinnamon toast I've ever eaten 
Do you have a special aunt who means the world to you? Don't wait til a milestone birthday to tell her!