All Together Now

Dear Millicent,

I keep reading the same stories on the internet, and want to make a fat braid of all of them (is the internet a ratking of ideas?).

Valentines Day: Gender roles, boo. Capitalism, boo.  But, it is not cool to be a sourpuss this year.  Nonchalance is out!

And Chatroulette is in. While parents should not let their kids do it, it is mostly kids doing it.  Chatroulette shows that all of us are really 13, and that the majority of households/offices look the same.  It also proves we also all look the same when we relax our faces to look at our monitor instead of our own image.  We are nicer and meaner than expected.  And there are lots of penises that want your attention.

Which brings us to back to gender roles.  The famous Dodge ad suggests that women have soul-crushing expectations of men, without noticing their own expectations (perhaps unverbalized).  These expectations are not for men as much as for adult humans. So Dodge is really arguing that growing up sucks, and that your girlfriend is really your mom.  Therefore, John Mayer is the Dodge ad.

The dream is that these lists/commercials/poems could all go the way of the late Lucille Clifton’s work, where, as Stacia L. Brown says so well,  “We can be, quite simply, ourselves–even after everyone we know has developed a staid concept of what that might mean.”   Every time I have ever taught a Lucille Clifton poem, the class swings back and forth between their own assumptions, and sees the grace of ambiguity and articulation.   Her poem “wishes for sons” is more a rebuttal than an expansion, but it’s also one of my favorites.

And, here’s Doris Day, a sweetheart and a dame, to bring it all together (an attempt). The epitome of specific lady role: all virtue, twinkle, family and sass: the 1950’s version of “a lady on the street and a freak in the bed.”  I learned two things about her from NPR’s story on her today (where the interviewee strangely states, “her coloring is very fetching. She’s like a valentine”):
  • She was up for the role of Mrs. Robinson
  • John Updike wrote this poem to her:
  • HER COY LOVER SINGS OUT 

    Doris, ever since 1945,
    when I was all of thirteen and you a mere twenty-one,
    and “Sentimental Journey” came winging
    out of the juke box at the sweet shop,
    your voice peircing me like a silver arrow,
    I knew you were sexy.

    And in 1962, when you
    were thirty-eight and I all of thirty
    and having a first affair, while you
    were co-starring with Cary Grant in That Touch of Mink
    and enjoying, according to the Globe,
    Doris’ Red-Hot Romp with Mickey Mantle,
    I wasn’t surprised.

    Now in 2008 (did you ever
    think you’d live into such a weird year?)
    when you are eighty-four and I am seventy-six,
    I still know you’re sexy,
    and not just in reruns or on old 45 rpms.
    Your four inadequate husbands weren’t the half of it.

    Bob Hope called you Jut-Butt, and your breasts
    (Molly Haskell reported)
    were as big as Monroe’s but swaddled.
    Hollywood protected us from you,
    they consumed you, what the Globe tastefully terms
    the “shocking secret life of America’s Sweetheart.”

    Still, I’m not quite ready
    for you to breathe the air that I breathe.
    I huff going upstairs as it is.
    Give me space to get over the idea of you –
    the thrilling silver voice,
    the gigantic silver screen. Go
    easy on me, Clara, let’s take our time.

    Like Meryl Streep knows, it’s fucking complicated,

    Yours,

    CF

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