How My Mind Works

Facebook update, Thursday, June 25, 8:28 a.m.: Jim Thorp woke to early-morning thunder. Smiled and slept. Now enjoying the smell of coffee and a fresh-scrubbed world. The morning strikes me as a woman emerging naked from the shower, shaking droplets from her hair …

I realized last week — for the latest, and perhaps decisive, time — that I do not think like other men. I woke a week ago Thursday, turned our dogs loose to greet the new morning, and was immediately moved by what I found. I typed the message above on Facebook (if you’re on Facebook, find me at, and while a few people I know commented on it, it was clear to me that even if someone else thought about the morning in this way, few would ever record that thought, let alone publicize it.

Ah well. This is how my mind works.

A while later, as I drove across the county on an errand, I saw the broad blueness of the sky, the sudden greenness of the grass below. I watched as a flock of white waterfowl rose from the glassy surface of a distant lake and banked to catch the sun just right, so white against the cloudless blue. Beautiful, I thought, and my mind drifted, back, back …

… back to my days as a small-town newspaper reporter and a surprise favorite reporting assignment: a Mecosta County Senior Center Fashion Show. Imagine that: a young man in my early 20s, asked to cover (with photos and a story) a fashion show … at the senior center.

I know what I expected: several charming little old ladies in their Sunday best, sharing fashion tips and ideas with their friends. In my young and male head, this barely qualified as an event, much less news.

I arrived to find the senior center full, and a teenage boy dressed service-cap-to-gleaming-black-shoes in a WWII-era military dress uniform, awaiting orders. When everyone was seated, he disappeared into a back room, and emerged with a young woman from the local high school, dressed as though waiting for her beau to come home. She was beautiful — strikingly so — in her dress and hat, stockings and heels and long white gloves. I set my notebook aside and began to take snapshots.

As I recall, three or four young ladies took turns wearing fashions from the 1920s through the ’50s, and the older men and women laughed and applauded as the years fell away from their eyes. It was magical, and I tried to look at things differently afterward.

That is what I remembered as I drove across the county and back, and when I returned to my computer, I typed: Update: She’s dressed now — powder blue dress and matching pillbox, with a string of pearls and a shocking green clutch. Watch her out your window; she’s really quite something …

Ah well. This is how my mind works.

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