Madea, my maternal grandmother, had a great love for… Chuck Norris. Clint Eastwood. Tough guy movies and violent Westerns. A bit unique for an elderly Black woman who only ever read the Bible and did the Jumbles crossword, but there you go – Madea spent a lot of time with the Old Testament God, I guess.
The only time the two of them were at ease in each other’s company was when my Dad would watch “cowboy pictures” with Madea. Sunday afternoons, it was black-and-white movies and 70’s adventure dramas, and once, memorably, Eastwood’s iconic Two Mules for Sister Sara,” starring the inimitable Shirley MacLaine.
Now I know the film to be some improbable tale of a nun falling in love with a violent cowboy who rescues her (unrealistic, with a heavy dose of Stockholm syndrome), but when I first saw the film, the most memorable thing to me was Sister Sara’s eyelashes. Boy, I COVETED Shirley MacLaine’s lashes, and it wasn’t until later that my naive little brain realized those were – duh! – falsies, probably the fancy ones made out of mink. (Boy, what a testament of different people having wildly, vastly different experiences! I wonder what my father and Madea saw in that film…) Sister Sara’s are to this day my peak aspirational lash goals. We don’t always get to chose our, um, fashion icons, but today I’m feeling affectionate gratitude for Miss Shirley – past lives or no – who is still one stylish dame.
the MacLaine effect on eleven-year-old me
a butterfly’s wings
could cause a windstorm.
someday, i’ll have that power
simply by batting my eyes.