The Persistence of an Idea…
For the tiniest fraction of a second, you see 3 women.
Then you realize they’re only mannequins, symbols of women.
But still those 3 women remain in your mind.
Persons, even imaginary ones, are not easily erased.
Are you up for an experiment? If so, keep reading.
The women – from left to right and in birth order – are
the Cunningham sisters: Joyce, Susan, and Carrie Anne.
Salutatorian of her graduating class, Joyce married Allred, an architect, and their only child, Arlan, wants to draw buildings like his father when he grows up. Joyce is president of the homeowners association in the gated community where they live. Joyce is “a good person” 6 days a week but allows herself one cigarette and a double shot of Bailey’s in her coffee every Tuesday.
Susan is still recovering from a disastrous 3-year relationship with Donny, a womanizer who left her feeling unloved and inadequate. Sadly, the Cunninghams believe that anyone who visits a psychologist or counselor is in desperate need of a backbone, so Susan is suffering silently, throwing herself into long hours at work, hoping to become the first woman in the 120-year history of Rand-McNally to have her name listed among the compilers of a worldwide atlas. Susan is currently updating the map of Mongolia and has corrected no less than 7 errors she’s found in the previous edition of that map. Impressive. She’ll never see her name in an atlas but she will meet and marry Roger, the happy-go-lucky driver of an ice cream truck. When his truck breaks down and his freezing unit quits outside the Rand-McNally building, Roger decides to give everyone inside a free, frozen confectionary rather than watch all his inventory melt. He is down to his last two popsicles as he approaches Susan’s desk. “I’m really sorry, but the only thing I’ve got left is Lemon Freeze.” Susan smiles and says, “Lemon Freeze is my favorite.” Roger sits down across from her and has the other one.
Carrie Anne has plans but they don’t include you. Which is a good thing really, because Carrie Anne is deep-fried trouble on a stick, an incurable flirt who sincerely believes the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, “Well, because it just is.“ In a weird twist of fate, it will be Carrie Anne that drives Donny to drink. Joyce and Susan worry about Carrie Anne’s choices, her lifestyle, and her complete lack of interest in marriage, children, or a career. But they need not worry. Seven weeks after after Allan Clarke of The Hollies immortalizes Carrie Anne in a hit song of the same name, Carrie Anne Cunningham’s Charm School for Girls becomes a national sensation throughout England with 61 locations and a 5-month waiting list. Her Saturday afternoon television show, Teatime with Carrie Anne, will enjoy the longest run of any independently-produced show in the history of the BBC. Twenty-seven years. Wow.