An Open Letter To Dolly Parton

by Amy Lindorff

Dear Dolly Parton,

In high school everyone started getting keys. Real keys. It wasn’t cool anymore to just have a million tiny stuffed animal keychains and cool little keychain games and other nonsense rattling around from one’s backpack zippers like in elementary and middle school. It was time to grow up and whittle down the collection to make room for some real live car keys.

My own first set of grown up keys contained a house key emblazoned with the University of Oregon logo (my family was hard core about those Ducks, okay?), a Lego Yoda (since replaced with a Storm Trooper after Yoda lost limb after limb and finally his entire torso went missing), the key to my silver Mazda B2300 truck (no power locks or windows on that sweet ride, lock your doors, passengers) and a tiny flashlight that came all the way from Dollywood.

Yes, that’s right. Your Dollywood. My uncle had gone to visit and like all the exciting places he went to, I got a little souvenir and postcard in the mail. Over the years I had collected pens from Greece, Spain, and Paris, postcards from all over New York, Palm Springs, Canada and many other places in Europe. They’re all still in a box somewhere in the closet of my childhood bedroom but that keychain went with me all through high school and most of college. Unfortunately, it broke off the key ring and got lost on the UO campus somewhere. I hope a squirrel took it home and used it to spice up the décor.

You played a significant role a few other times in my life. The one that really sticks out was a sixth grade beach weekend I spent in Seaside, Oregon with friends Molly and Becky. It was February on the Oregon Coast so of course it rained the entire time. We spent three nights in Molly’s parents’ beach house watching Steel Magnolias and Miss Congeniality on a loop. For weeks after, I had dreams that featured you and Sandra Bullock prepping for the Miss Diabetes pageant.

Then in college my dorm roommate and I got really into the song “Workin’ 9 to 5.” It reappeared in my life last week after a long day of work. Surprisingly, it didn’t come up during work, but actually when I was going to bed (in fact I hadn’t worked 9 to 5, but rather 10 to 7, an important distinction, I’m sure). After work I had eaten the most delicious meatball sub of my entire life with a friend and then watched the next three episodes of Parks and Recreation on some screeners he had gotten from work. As you can imagine those two events put that day right up there with the best of my life, regardless of how many hours I worked. Also, the Chelsea Peretti written episode on that screener disc featured probably the most fun cold open in all of television (soft blankets are my one true love). Things were really going my way.

It was probably the great mood I was in that made me think of your fun, upbeat track. It was one of the chillier days in LA recently so I had to bundle up a bit for bed. As I was putting on some socks, I sang out loud to myself, “Wearin’ socks to bed! What a way to make a living!” Becky (of the beach weekend mentioned above who was also the dorm roommate and I guess I should now be calling my “Dolly Parton friend”) had a lyrical improvement on this when I texted her about it: “wearin’ socks to bed, what a way to keep my toes warm.” So I guess that’s something I’ll be singing every time it gets cold in LA.

I like to have a lot of fun, is what I’m saying. Thanks for supplying the soundtrack these days, and being a literal light in my life many years ago.

Love, Amy