Part Three: Better than a Snowball
Lulu often lamented her name when she was younger. Her father had told her once that Lulu wasn’t the name she was born with, but he refused to call her by that name because it was too silly. She couldn’t imagine what was so silly that Lulu became a more attractive alternative; she had imagined time and again that it was all some weird joke that the world was playing on her.
Lulu was teased mercilessly by her school mates, and not only for her name. To say she was thin was being entirely too generous; Lulu could have put a mummy to shame. Her short hair was coarse and dull brown, her eyes were too large for her face, and she had a large mole above the left corner of her mouth. Any one of these on its own would have been enough, but poor little Lulu was truly an unfortunate looking child.
Lulu had, at an early age, accepted that her fate would be one of torment. She had no idea that her life would change so drastically the summer she went to stay with Aunt Izzy. Her parents had left her standing on the vine covered porch while they celebrated their 20th anniversary with an extended tour of Europe.
The steps creaked ominously as Lulu approached the bright green door. She rang the bell and, with a great flutter, the door swung open to reveal what Lulu could only assume to be her aunt, but could easily have been a circus tent or perhaps an entire Arab harem. Lulu stared with a mixture of horror and fascination as the mound of scarves and bangles stepped forward and swept her up in a hug that nearly snapped her in half.
“My God, girl, don’t your parents feed you?” Lulu supposed that as first greetings went, it could have been a lot worse. “Well don’t stand there like your feet don’t work. Come on, I’ve got a coconut cake that’ll put some weight on your bones.” Aunt Izzy trundled off towards the back of the large house with surprising speed and disappeared behind a garish curtain into the kitchen.
Lulu spent the first of many summers with Aunt Izzy in the airy conservatory and music room of her grand home. Izzy, despite her rotund figure, was deceptively light on her feet and it was during those long golden days that Lulu discovered her love of dancing. Izzy had been, of all things, a burlesque girl and she showed Lulu a few steps that would build her strength and flesh out her painfully thin frame. Each summer, under Izzy’s shrewd, quick eyes, Lulu would learn new steps.
By the time she turned 17, Lulu was unrecognizable. While she was still thin, her movements were lithe and easy. Her large eyes suited her round face and the mole was now an attractive beauty mark. Her hair had lightened in the summer sun and was a sleek, shiny auburn. What had been an awkward, gaunt little girl had turned into a lovely young woman with confidence to match. And thanks to Aunt Izzy’s teachings and connections, Lulu was soon the star of the evening show at Rita’s.
Men came from all around to see the cat-like cabaret girl; Lulu never would have guessed that her miserable childhood would have led to fame and fortune. Sure, it wasn’t the well-mannered life that her parents had hoped she would lead, but she wasn’t about to complain. She merely had to ask, and Rudy would grant her every wish. Why wouldn’t he? Lulu was bringing in the crowds and their money.
Tonight was no exception. The room was thick with smoke and the lights bounced off the bottles at the bar, making the handsome bartender look intriguingly exotic. Lulu was backstage looking over the throng of customers when a cool breeze drew her eyes to the door. The best looking man she had ever seen had just stepped in and she nearly swooned at the sight of him. He was easily six foot five with shoulders that would have impressed Atlas and a face that was to die for. In an instant Lulu knew that if anyone could win him over it was her. Quickly taking in the rest of him, Lulu spotted something that just made the deal so much sweeter. If she was right, and she could get those shoes from him, she’d be set for life in Rudy’s good graces.
With a sly smile Lulu cued the music and stepped confidently onto the stage.