Monday, October 25
Queen Be
The 'Sweet Potato' Recipe for Happiness: Live It Up

Ken Ringle,The Washington Post,October 25, 2004

Some seek greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. It is the axiom of the Sweet Potato Queens that by age 40 almost every woman has had greatness thrust upon her just by surviving, never mind hitting, all the curveballs life throws at her.

Therefore, the Sweet Potato gospel goes, instead of succumbing to the too-frequent middle-age female mind-sets of exhaustion, bitchiness and wound-licking, it is incumbent on all such women to get in touch with their Inner Queen and generally smart-mouth their way to an outrageous, regal and beatific better life. Not to mention a good time.

"You should never wear panties to a party," counsels author and boss queen Jill Conner Browne.

Browne, 51, a brown-eyed, six-foot former fitness instructor from Jackson, Miss., is the doyenne of the Sweet Potato Queen movement ... ...

... Among her tips on achieving Sweet Potato royalty:

• Along with Cute Shoes, every woman needs five men in her life: one to fix
things, one to pay for things, one to dance with, one to talk to and one for
sex. Four of the five can be gay.

• Tragedy deserves food. There are
four basic food groups -- sweet, salty, fried and au gratin. Recipes include
Twinkie Pie (aka White Trash Trifle).

• "There's nothing wrong with men
in general. . . . Most of them are just fine. Really," she writes. But it would
be crazy not to manipulate them with sex because "men's brains are migratory and
usually located in their summer home, way south."

Further describing Browne's brand of humor, let alone her writing style, is not a job for the timid, but think of it like this: If Mel Brooks and Lily Tomlin were from Mississippi and had a daughter who grew up there in a household with Mark Twain, Dave Barry, Florence King and former Texas governor Ann Richards, she might have looked on life a bit like Jill Conner Browne.

But even more confounding is the power with which the Sweet Potato Queens' grin-and-bare-it philosophy has resonated in readers from Birmingham to Beijing. Her thousands of laughter-liberated followers swap life stories and advice like a sisterly global encounter group on the SPQ Web site's Message Board of Love. They speak of Browne the way women once spoke of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan -- as an empowering force who not only lifts women's spirits but revolutionizes their lives.

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