Remember that Whac-A-Mole game? The one where the moles pop up randomly and you try to compete by beating them back into their hole before they disappear? Just when you think you’ve got a chance, one disappears and another pops up from a different direction. Or maybe you’re a fan of the classic comedy Caddyshack and the futile attempts of Bill Murray’s character to battle the gopher. I always think about that game and movie when reflecting on my high school years and the #12 High-Lift Blondes.
Known for their womanly figures and silky bleached locks (#12 on the hair color lift chart), the #12 High-Lift Blondes were a seemingly endless line of sisters whose queens-of-everything reign extended across two decades in my East Texas community. Like Marilyn Monroe, they were iconic dream girls. They were Christmas queens and sequined-slipped twirlers and perky cheerleaders and FFA sweethearts. No “Most Popular” title escaped their magnetic pull. When one graduated, another, maybe two more, took her place. And to make it even more frustrating, the #12 High-Lift Blondes were as genuinely kind as they were beautiful.
Although she is a composite and a complete work of fiction, the character of Sundi Knutt was certainly inspired by the #12 High-Lift Blondes. More importantly, it was the emotion of my coming of age with those girls that found its way to the heart of The Sweetheart of Prosper County. More than envy, the desire of the girl stuck on the curb as the sweethearts, the high school icons, roll past like rural route royalty influenced the story. I wanted to capture that desire that hits when you’re fourteen or fifteen and you’re trying to find your place in the world.
Sometimes, we chase the bright shiny things we can see instead of looking inward and finding our own style and gifts. The heart of The Sweetheart of Prosper County is just that; embrace your individuality. Be your own icon.
The Sweetheart of Prosper County is available at your local book store, or online: