Monday, June 25, 2018

And Now for a Re-read

I’m at it again. Re-reading Gone With The Wind. The first time I read it I was sixteen, the age of the heroine, Scarlett O’Hara, when the story begins. I was taking a library science course in high school and my mother forbade me to read it. So, of course, I couldn’t wait to snag it off the shelves. Honestly, I have no idea why Mom would issue such an edict – but it worked. I was in it for the long haul and boy, at over a thousand pages, it was a haul for sure. Lasted almost as long as the Civil War itself.

Need I point out that at the ripe old age of sixteen I already knew everything. Like most young people. Right?  So I skipped over Margaret Mitchell’s long, beautiful descriptions of life in the pre-war South and ignored the rich history she revealed. Instead I looked for the good stuff, Scarlett’s obsession with romance, Ashley Wilkes and her own very important self. The book struck a chord deep inside my emotional girl's heart and I buried myself in that book every night for weeks. At the end, when all seemed lost for Scarlett, I wept on my bed. My dad found me that way and when he asked what was wrong I nearly took his head off. Little did I know that my mother’s subterfuge had opened a whole new world for me. And at sixteen I now knew what love was all about, clutching my heart each time I thought of Scarlett O'Hara and her one true love, Rhett Butler (not Ashley as it turns out). Sometimes I miss that silly young girl who was me.

TCM featured GWTW late one night a few weeks ago. I was about ready to call it quits for the night when I came across it. There she was, my Scarlett, in her flouncy green dress, flirting with the Tarleton twins like a true Southern Belle. I paused and  hung in until the Cival War actually began and then hauled my ancient self off to bed. But it got me to thinking.

Even though this will be the seventh (yes, seventh) time I’ve read the book, this time it will be different. I will go in deep and find new things. I will do some research apart from the book, which was written in 1936, so much closer to the actual war than we are now. I will pay attention to what Mitchell has revealed about those times as she understood them. Will all that’s gone on since then with regard to civil rights, language, cultural sensibilities, etc. make me see this old telling in a different light? What will I gain from this re-read? My younger, by twenty years, sisters think the book and movie are racist. Will I, or can I, or should I see that now? There are certainly stereotypes of all sorts in the story including those relating to southern gentry, the hated Yankee, and slave and master relationships. I’d like to think I’ve gained some wisdom and perspective of my own since I was sixteen when – incidentally – I knew nothing.

There are many other books I’ve re-read, though not as many times as GWTW. I’ve read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy three times and all of James Herriot’s books about being a Yorkshire vet in the 1930’s at least that. I count The Wind in the Willows and The Screwtape Letters among my many re-reads.

I know there are millions of books out there to be read. Some for love, some for increasing knowledge, some for a challenge, some for a thrill and some for a lark. But only a few of them endure in our hearts. Care to share yours?

Image: The book my late mother-in-law gave to me because she knew I loved it.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Let's Be Creative!

As many of you may know, or have gleaned from what you’ve read here, I’m not much for foul language. Unless the word that starts with  F is “free” or “fantastic” I don’t want to hear it. And as for the C word – well – you better be talking about cheese and chocolate or I’ll scowl you into next Christmas.

On the other hand . . . I do love creative  language. For instance, the other day when the humidity crept through the back door and leaped onto my left shoulder, I knew within the next  ten minutes my hair would begin to “spoodge”. That’s a word I’ve created to describe the fuzz that overtakes my carefully coiffed locks when the air changes from the cool and dry of fall and winter to the ICK of summer.

Our mother, when confronted with a whiny child who wanted to stay home from school, dreamed up an illness for the teacher’s note she’d have to write the following day. Whichever kid it was was probably faking. Mom knew it. “I guess I’ll just say you had the thru-puppa-gudgeon.” Yup, that’s the word she used. It's a really cool all purpose disease. And I’ve probably spelled it wrong but I stretched it out like that so your own tongue could wrap around it for the silly thrill of saying it. Go ahead and repeat it a couple of times – I’ll wait. 

My mother-in-law was not one to use bad language, either. Thought it was low class. “There are millions of words in the English language,” she’d say shaking her finger in the offenders face. “You don’t have to use those!”  But this left her with having to be creative, too. And she was. My favorite was dopey dilldock. These words were most frequently used to describe my father-in-law who frequently transgressed and was the object of her ire. Frequently.

All through my life I’ve know people who are language wizards. Probably the one closest to me now is my friend, Marie. Hoooo boy. She has some doozies. On a few occasions we’ve attended ecumenical services together at the local Catholic church where the faithful “benuflect” before entering the pew. Once, at the butchers counter, she ordered “100 proof ” beef and failed to understand the laughter from the meat counter guy. Her husband could barely contain himself the time she looked at a restaurant menu and ordered, with complete sincerity, “chicken condom blue”. But her favorite term of utter disgust comes in the form of this plum, “dirty ratherford”. We know not from whence it sprang but she uses the phrase with vehemence when someone (aka her husband) trumps her ace as we’re playing pinochle. You don’t even want to be there.

Lastly, we have my new favorite You Tube stars, Diamond and Silk. Get these two blathering about politics and they’re going to expose a lot of S.ugar, H.oney, I.ced, T.ea that’s going on in the political realm. I just love ‘em. (Pssst – this was Mom’s favorite – ahem – expression of disdain but you didn’t hear that from me!)

So, that’s it from my side this morning. Have some creativity you’d like to share?  I’ll come back and read them later. I’ve gotta get moving on with my day. Gonna be hot and a bit muggy. Hello spoodgy hair.

Image: Free Digital Photos