To Be A Charleston Eccentric
“You don’t want to be a Charleston eccentric.”
Someone said that to me. Once. I was in the lobby of a theater. Rubbing my crotch against a scrap of leather attached to wheels and a bicycle frame. I wore a dress. And a hat.
And, riding my bike on a one-way street in such attire endangered me with the label “Charleston Eccentric.”
It really bothered me at the time. I didn’t want my image to be weird. Off-beat. Inaccessible. For a brief time, I stopped riding my bike. I kept my hats in their various boxes in the closet. I tried to spin people’s image of me as acceptable.
Until I got bored.
Because, let’s face it, is it really terrible to be thought of as a Charleston Eccentric?
Let’s examine some Charleston Eccentrics.
Born in Charleston in 1885, the author of ”Porgy and Bess” descended from a fallen bit of Charleston aristocracy. He and Ira Gershwin penned the lyrics to the glorious “Summertime” and other classics, all from the then-slum of Cabbage Row near East Bay and Church Streets. Catfish Row in the play is the same place.
I can’t walk by an elegant piece of ironwork in Charleston without wondering whether Philip Simmons forged it. He was born in 1912 in the sparsest of circumstances, but he rose to be one of the preeminent ironworkers of the twentieth century.
I’ve only corresponded with her once. Her father was my first client. I don’t know how I got so lucky. She has variously been listed as one of the most powerful women in US business in the past decade. I’m always just delighted to say hi to her mom and dad at Fast & French.
I cannot call him ‘Col-BEAR.’ I just can’t. But, I schlepped all the way to DC to watch him and John Stewart conduct the Rally to Restore Sanity (surely an eccentric phrase if there ever was one.)
Maybe the thing to note about most Charleston Eccentrics is………they leave. Still, I wouldn’t take a different label. I think it fits me just fine.
Have you ever bucked a label, only to realize it fit you perfectly?