I was once Ms. Skyway.
Page 8, Skyway News, Wednesday, August 13, 1975.
The celebration of Downtown working women was more frivolous back then. Each week a young woman, usually a secretary -- we weren't administrative assistants -- was ordained Ms. Skyway. I saw their photos week after week in the tabloid paper. Their bios spoke of high school, hobbies and current employment. Secretaries, all of them. If there was intelligence, ambition or nonconformity behind their blonde bangs and broad smiles, it was never mentioned.
I fancied a small rebellion.
I nominated myself.
I wrote to the paper. I told them why I thought I should be Ms. Skyway for a week, specifically mentioning my intelligence, ambition and nonconformity. They called over to get my photo taken. I walked over in the rain -- there wasn't even a skyway where I worked -- and plopped myself down in the chair against a wall, and without warning, my picture was snapped. Me -- unready, damp, hair all awry -- that's all it took to become Ms. Skyway that week, the one with a degree, with an idea of herself.
I'm glad I smiled.
They gave me tickets to the movies and dinner for two at Murray's and a voucher for a haircut at Young Quinlan.
I went back to work, to the lonely office in the skywayless building on the real street, the one on the ground. I don't remember the haircut, but I do remember dinner and the movie. I took a friend -- a guy pal -- for there was no lover in the life of Ms. Skyway at the time. We ate silver-butter-knife steaks in pink splendor, the violins blistering the room. We adjourned to the movie theater, walking through the skyways, the bright-lighted empty shelter of urban warriors on the town. I felt so sophisticated, so full of rare beef and red wine, high heels clicking on the tile.
The movie was "Farewell My Lovely" with Robert Mitchum and Charlotte Rampling.
Charlotte Rampling was never Ms. Skyway. She never needed to be Ms. Skyway.
She was the young, beautiful heiress in the movie and Mitchum was the mug of a detective, hired by her father to protect her from those who would do her harm. Not to worry, she was perfectly capable of taking care of many things besides her own self. She shimmered through the movie, so comfortable in her own skin, so magnificent. She sat in her own skyway, a glass conservatory filled with plants and orchids. The movie ended and our walk back through the skyways had no such rich humidity in it.
Now I remember the haircut.
I asked to look like Ms. Rampling.
And at noontime one day I walked to Young Quinlan and sat in a chair to make the transition from Ms. Skyway to Ms. Rampling. I walked the streets, the ones on the ground, there being no direct connection through the
Editor's note: Anne Dimock's story has prodded us to do something we've talked about for months -- host a Ms. Skyway/Mr. Skyway reunion. If you have been a Ms. Skyway or Mr. Skyway (and we believe that you're never a former Ms. or Mr. Skyway), please drop us a line with your name, phone number, mailing address, e-mail address (if any), and when you were featured (as close to the date as you can figure) to: Ms./Mr. Skyway, 3225 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55408. You may also e-mail us the information at email@example.com. We'll get in touch with you about the summertime event we're planning.