Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

by Kit Mather Dailey '44

It’s important to lead your life the way you’ve been taught—eat right, think right, get good grades, practice the piano, count your blessings, love thy neighbor, keep an open mind, let go of negative feelings, or do whatever your parents taught you. Remember, too, that girls should never call boys.

In addition, keep your sense of humor— never take yourself too seriously. Then when put to the test, and you will be many times, you’ll be equipped to handle it.

If regular exercise makes you feel good, do it—I do a half-mile lap swim most days. If you’d feel better with your nose shaped down a bit, then go ahead, have it done. My husband and I had a collie with pure bloodlines but a Roman nose. When we got him we had to promise not to breed him for fear of perpetuating something that evidently should have disappeared many generations ago. So Laddie died puppyless.

If you’d like bigger breasts, well, heck, why not? A friend many years back had them naturally, but when I complimented her on her figure, she said, “Kit, if you can imagine two five-pound bags of sand hanging on a rope around your neck, that’s how it feels!” Each to her own is the way I look at it.

I guess if you’re a collie, it’s better to conform. Me, however, I never wanted to be like anyone else. Well, maybe once. I have big ears and when I was young I wanted to hide them, so I had my hair cut in a pageboy style to cover them. Now, I instruct the lady at the “beauty” parlor to carve the hair around my ears. An added benefit is you can hear a lot better without all that hair in the way.

One more time I tried briefly to conform: I was the original Ms. Natural American Girl. Even after 20 years of marriage and six children (2 to 17), I wore no makeup, never colored my hair, never had a perm, didn’t even have pierced ears.

But, horror of horrors, I learned my husband had a girlfriend. By hook and by crook (mostly by crook) I found out who she was and decided to pay them a surprise visit one evening when he didn’t come home. She was 22 or 23, had bright red hair, lots of makeup, and beautiful long dark eyelashes (mine are white and short). I didn’t accomplish a thing with that visit besides getting in the last word (no small task in my family). As I walked out the door, I turned to her and said, “Which half of the year do you want the six children?”

However, the next day I did go to the cosmetics counter of the nearest department store and asked one of the salesgirls to “make me over.” When I went home loaded with my beauty purchases, two of my children looked at me and screamed, so I gave that up.

After spending a week or two in my room alone and desolate (somehow the kids managed to fend for themselves and get off to school, and the four-year-old took care of the two year- old), I realized I had to snap out of this.

Out of desperation I drove into the parking lot at the News Post, a south Orange County twice-weekly newspaper headquartered in downtown Laguna Beach, sat there for about a half hour and finally got the nerve to go in and ask for a job. The manager wanted to see my portfolio. Of course I didn’t have one—I didn’t even know what it was. But I told him I’d get one and come back.

A good friend who edited a small newspaper in Costa Mesa said she could give me a byline but she couldn’t pay me, so I wrote some stories for her.

I took my newspaper stories with my byline back to the News Post, and about two weeks later they offered me a job.

That was the beginning and it’s been great. For many years I worked for newspapers in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Hawaii, loving every minute of it—I always thought I should be paying them rather than their paying me. At around age 70 I became an editorial consultant—writing, rewriting, and helping others with their writing needs—and I’m still a consultant.

Above all, I’ve retained a healthy sense of humor—it’s the only way to go.