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The girls of September

Food For Thought

I’ve always found it odd my three closest friends when I was growing up had birthdays within a few days of each other. Not only that, but two of them shared the same birthday, and the other had her birthday on the same day as my mother’s. This had to be more than mere coincidence and made me half believe in astrology which, logic tells me, is unreliable at best and superstitious nonsense at worst. I am ambivalent, after 80-some years, and may never be sure just what I believe about it.
My mother’s birthday was Sept. 10 and sometime during my elementary school years, I discovered my best friend Eleanor’s birthday was on the seventh. Both were born under the sign of Virgo. This seemed of no particular significance at the time, but as I look back I realize how well they both fit into the general description of persons born under that sign. Virgos are believed to be practical, no-nonsense people, often critical, well-groomed and tidy. Their professions tend toward nursing and other jobs in health and service industries, and teaching. They are flexible, good organizers and tend to be perfectionists concerned with doing their jobs well rather than with personal acclaim.
That pretty well sums up my mother’s determination to be an efficient and thorough housekeeper and outstanding wife and mother. And when I tell you Eleanor, when I first met her, was wearing a heavy leg brace (as the result of polio) and refused to let it slow her down and she later became a teacher, it should come as no surprise. She and her late husband only recently retired from raising and training miniature horses on their Minnesota farm, though she has slowed down a little since we reached our 80s, but not too much, as she spent a recent vacation kayaking on one of the Great Lakes.
When I was in junior high school, Barbara, who came from Philadelphia to Iowa, joined our class and we began walking home from school together and quickly became fast friends, as we discovered she lived only a couple blocks away from me. Within the first week of our acquaintance, we discovered her birthday was Sept. 10, the same as my mother’s. Barbara seemed to possess most of the traits attributed to the sign of Virgo and shared with me an affinity for math, English and art. We both made good grades, enjoyed school, sang in the same church choir, and had no real dreams about what we would do after high school. As it turned out, Barbara married one of our classmates while I was in college majoring in art– and, within a few years, she had studied art with a master pastel artist and was soon painting portraits of some fairly well-known personages. Unlike me, Barbara was always very well organized, well-groomed and tidy in her surroundings– a typical Virgo.
In high school, we were joined by the rural students who attended country schools through eighth grade. Among them was a smiling, pig-tailed girl with the strange name of Jobyna. I soon found out she was named after a silent screen actress named Jobyna Ralston. Our school principal instigated a policy of including, along with the daily announcements, the names of students who were celebrating their birthdays and, that first week of school, I learned Jobyna’s birthday was the same day as Eleanor’s. She was elected Homecoming queen one year, and served as state president of the Iowa 4-H Club. Because she lived in the country and seldom lingered around after school was dismissed, I didn’t get to know her well until we both turned up living in the same dormitory in college. Because we both had many friends over the four years we were there, we played “musical roommates,” switching roommates often. She and I shared a room during one year and I discovered she was not only a Virgo, she was almost obsessively neat, forever tidying up my comfortable little piles of stuff and, no doubt, despairing of my sloppiness. She became a speech pathologist and married a doctor—things which fit right in with the Virgo definition.
I wondered if there was some natural affinity between Virgos and people born under the sign of Aries, but I don’t seem to fit the Aries mold very well. I’m not particularly assertive, pioneering, competitive or courageous as Arians are said to be. Though I do sometimes behave in headstrong, impulsive and foolish ways. I seldom get angry and am definitely not drawn to physical activity– in fact, I’d say I am downright lazy and probably too easy-going. But then, my birthday comes late in April and maybe I was meant to be born a Taurus. Taureans are said to be loyal, stable, conservative, practical, patient, affectionate and good-natured. That sounds more like it.