Turn back, O man
Forswear thy foolish ways
Lawanda Sings, Struts, Vamps With Evangelical Verve
In 2005, I met Lawanda/Val Murdy,1 who was the woman in my life for an all too short a time before her death on June 2, 2008. During the first three months we were together, she was in rehearsal for her church choir’s production of Godspell. Her big number was “Turn Back Oh Man” aka “Mary Magdalene’s Song,” which she was to sing, in pseudo-salacious style, lyrics that urged mankind to surrender earthly pursuits in order to focus on God.
A video of the movie rendition of the song follows:
Turn Back, O Man! (Godspell Movie)
Lawanda’s interpretation of the role was less hippy-esque and more glam than the film version. She wore, for example, a snug fitting, shimmering red dress and a wig with long golden locks.
Happily, I was able to contribute to her presentation, in keeping with my belief that nothing succeeds like excess, by suggesting certain accoutrements, such as a boa and the emblematic Madonna-mic.
Lawanda’s part in the production was a major success, notwithstanding the life-shortening heart flutters suffered by her favorite octogenarian in the congregation when she detoured from her bump and grind saunter toward the stage to wrap herself around him before continuing her song and gyrations.
This description of her Godspell role is not only part of my general celebration of LaWandian memories evoked by the impending anniversary of her death but is also the lead-in to the fulfillment of my commitment to explain the spandex dress episode2 or, as I prefer to think of it…
The Perfect Gift
Obviously, the provocative nature of Lawanda’s performance and the rehearsals that preceded it predisposed me, though no fault of my own, to a certain mindset. How else would one explain why, when I saw a black tube dress of the sort pictured atop this post, I immediately knew it would be the perfect gift for her?
Admittedly, a significant determinant in my perfect gift valuation was the likelihood that, after a surprised and blushing Lawanda opened the gift and succumbed to my blandishments to try it on, the inevitable conclusion to this event would be a bedroom romp.
Well, the bedroom romp thing indeed came to pass, but it was not the final act in this comedy of (rude) manners.
Back in the real world, Lawanda enthusiastically opened the gift, pulled the tiny, elasticized dress from the wrapper, and then echoed, albeit for different reasons, my earlier judgment, “It’s perfect.”
This was not precisely what I had anticipated.
A few nanoseconds later, her street clothes were on the floor, and she was strutting around the room, wearing nothing but spandex.
A moment later, the new dress was on the floor as well, the aforementioned romp having commenced.
Afterwards, Lawanda informed me that she needed six more of the dresses.
Seeing the perplexed look on my face, she went on to explain that the dress was perfect – for her teaching team’s uniform.
Some employers give staff a t-shirt with the company logo; other managers give team members a short, black spandex tube dress.
In keeping with my “never say no to the right woman” strategy (see The Two Rules For An Outrageously Wonderful Relationship With A Woman), I agreed to place the order for her. It turns out that the cyber-store where I had purchased Lawanda’s dress had only two more in stock. For those of you who have spent many sleepless nights wondering, I can assure you that it is no simple matter to explain to a company that sells “fine lingerie fashion,” a category that apparently includes tight, revealing, spandex dresses, why it is essential that one (especially if one is male) obtain seven such frocks.
Only after the manufacturer was persuaded that this surge of popularity warranted producing a short run of these newly hot items was the order filled.
The Denouement, Replete With Hosannas
And, soon afterwards, the dresses were presented to Lawanda’s teaching team, who received them happily and without any evidence of surprise (they did, after all, know Lawanda better than I did at this time).
It was, however, still later that the final payoff became manifest. Over the next few weeks, whenever the individual team members gathered the courage, found the right occasion, achieved the required level of intoxication… the spandex dresses were worn as boudoir enticements for the men in their lives.
And, I knew when these occasions took place – because shortly thereafter, Lawanda and I would receive lavishly phrased, incredibly grateful thank-you cards from every one of those men.
As I’ve previously observed, Lawanda was an especially effective force in her professional community.
Note: Originally posted May 15, 2009.
- Again, I emphasize that “Lawanda” was Val’s self-chosen blogonym. [↩]
- See Lady Lawanda’s No Bitch Left Behind Team Meeting [↩]