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Azalea Pinkwater

“Azalea Pinkwater” appeared in my email this morning in a Linkedin notification that she had just joined Linkedin and wanted to know if I wished to help welcome Azalea and get connected.

I get such notifications often and consider them to be, for the most part, annoyances.  I seldom respond unless it’s someone I recognize, but the name “Azalea Pinkwater” got my attention.  “Azalea Pinkwater,” what a beautiful Southern name.  I don’t believe I’ve ever known anyone with the name “Azalea” and in combination with “Pinkwater,” which brings to mind a summer lemonade with a cherry suspended in the icy coolness, is almost overwhelming in its beauty.  The notification included the information that she was of New Orleans.

The combination of “Azalea Pinkwater” and “New Orleans” immediately brought to my old imagination varied images of who Azalea must be.

Could she be an ancient beauty living just on the fringe of the French Quarter peering from behind her lace curtains at a city in which she once was recognized for her beauty and wit.  Although her now faded features only hinted at the beauty once displayed, she held her body erect and forceful, her chin raised as she sipped her afternoon demitasse of chicory coffee peering at the passing young man on a bicycle.  Azalea still had afternoon gentlemen callers who often showed up unannounced to be in her presence hoping to win her heart after all these years.  She kept a constant expression of bemused wonder feigning rapt attention as they rattled on of their manly exploits.  As night fell and she was alone in the old townhouse, she would slightly raise the window a few inches so that she could hear the music wafting from far away Bourbon Street where she once floated along the sidewalks knowing all heads turned to follow her.  She had no regrets because, after all, she was Azalea, Azalea Pinkwater.

Or perhaps she was a young girl just beginning to understand the powers of her beauty.  Surely someone named Azalea Pinkwater would want to capitalize on the attention drawn to her by her beautiful name; perhaps she wears colorful layered dresses with linked metal rings around her waist, an emerald green scarf around her neck and emerald and gold earrings flashing in the sunlight as her auburn hair flows behind her as she delights all who behold her.  She is reluctant to embrace any one suitor because, after all, her beauty is for the world in general, not some single soul, and, besides, she is Azalea, Azalea Pinkwater.

Then my mind turned to a darker image; perhaps she was not a great beauty; perhaps she was homely and didn’t care for the attention being drawn to her which her name, Azalea Pinkwater, would inevitably do.  Perhaps her mother, being proud of her first born girl, knew in her heart that she would be a beautiful girl, but, alas, she was homely and plain and her own name troubled her.  “Jane” or “Sally” or “Mary” would have been more appropriate Azalea thought.  How often she winced as she was introduced to others as “Azalea” and could see the confusion on the faces of the strangers attempting to match the name with the plain countenance which stared back at them.  She often tried to invent nicknames for herself such as “Zolly” and “Lea” but none would root and grow and stay with her.  However, when she was alone and quiet with no mirrors to reflect the truth, she repeated quietly “Azalea” as though calling the hidden beauty within her.

Perhaps she wasn’t raven haired after all but instead an African American who felt at home in New Orleans, the great melting pot of the South, and felt at home with her name which in the African community would not seem strange or exotic being that black parents often name their children uniquely.  Learning her name always seemed to delight both blacks and whites.  Often they would comment on the beauty of her name, and she carried with her whereever she went the pleasant knowledge that she was Azalea, Azalea Pinkwater.

Should I live with these images conjured up by the name “Azalea Pinkwater” or risk shattering them by seeking the truth? 

Well, I tried to shatter the images I had conjured up by tracking down Azalea’s email address.  I found it, sent her an email, but, apparently, she took me for a stalker and did not reply to my request for communication.  Oh, well.  I still have my imaginative thoughts.

enough