Friday, January 02, 2015

Saturday 9

Next Thursday, the 8th would be Elvis' 80th birthday, so we're celebrating The King. Here is this week's song.

1. In this song, Elvis hitchhikes across Kentucky. Have you ever hitched a ride? No! My mother drilled it into my head, over and over, that it wasn't safe.

Photo by Florida Keys Travel Information
2. Elvis received his first guitar for his 11th birthday, even though he'd asked his parents for a bicycle. As an adult, how often do you ride a bike? The last time I pedaled a non-stationery bike was several years ago in Key West. We rode around a lush green public garden. It was a lovely day. I don't know why we haven't been back.

3. When Elvis was a child, his family was very poor, often living in rooming houses or public housing. His classmates teased him for being "trashy," which left him shy. Were you more shy or outgoing as a kid? First of all, poor Elvis and shame on all and any fuckwads who made him feel bad. They're probably all gone now, but I hoped they lived to see their "trashy" little classmate change the world. Secondly, I was rather outgoing.

4. While in high school, Elvis mowed neighbors' lawns with a push mower and a sickle. According to The Home Depot, one of today's most popular mowers is a gas-powered Cub Cadet with a self-mulching feature. Tell us about your lawn mower.
You'd have to check with our lawn service.

5. In the 1950s, Frank Sinatra dismissed Elvis as, "deplorable." Yet by the time of Elvis' death, he had revised his opinion and said, "Elvis was the embodiment of the whole American culture." Tell us about something or someone you changed your mind about. I used to dismiss one of my coworkers as a terrible snob. And she is one. But she also has a delightfully subversive sense of humor and I enjoy her company more than I ever thought I would.

6. After Elvis was discharged from the Army, his first performance was on a Sinatra TV special, sponsored by Timex. Do you wear a watch?  Every day.

7. Coinciding with Elvis' 80th birthday, there will be an auction of Presley-related memorabilia at his home in Graceland. One item up for bid is a plush toy he gave to an Army buddy's wife in 1958 for the baby she was expecting. Do you know anyone who is looking forward to a baby in 2015? The coworker I mentioned in #5 is due next month.

8. None of the items being sold at the Graceland auction actually belonged to Elvis at the time of his death. Everything left to daughter Lisa Marie remains in her possession. Do you have something you cherish that was given to you by a close relative? A ceramic cable car. It wasn't given to me, but it belonged to my favorite grandfather. It was on his dresser and he used it to hold his cufflinks, tie clasps and licorice throat lozenges. Every time I look at it, I can almost smell the licorice.

9. The US Postal service sold more than 500 million of the Elvis commemorative stamp. According to the Census Bureau, that was two stamps each for every man, woman and child in the United States. When is the last time you visited the post office? Last Saturday I picked up my mail (it had been on vacation hold) and bought stamps.

"One of us is changing or maybe we just stopped trying"

So sang Carole King. And those lyrics went through my mind when I tried to re-read Gone with the Wind.

How I once loved this book! I read it for the first time in 1974, when I was still in high school and when Carole King was still heard through transistor radios. I reread it every summer for at more than a decade. The last time I can specifically recall carrying it around with me was the summer of 1986.

I have always understood Scarlett, more than I want to. I admired Melly and wanted to be more like her. I balanced the scales by recasting Ashley as Robert Redford. In the movie, Leslie Howard's Ashley was much too wimpy to be a credible alternative to Clark Gable's Rhett, America's first popular post-feminist hero. And I adored Will Benteen, the saturnine farm hand who marries into the O'Haras because he loved Tara as much as Scarlett did, even if he never made the movie.

Yet in 2014 (and now 2015), I found it unreadable

The attitude toward slavery -- specifically the glowing terms used to describe Gerald O'Hara's purchase of Dilcey and Prissy -- made my skin crawl.

I grew up in The Land of Lincoln. We are taught to revere Abe, as all right-thinking Americans should. Maybe that's part of it. Though I was a proud daughter of Illinois back in the 1970s and 1980s, too.

A lot of it has to do with my repeated tours of the Peyton Randolph House in Colonial Williamsburg. Seeing the way "good" masters treated the human beings they owned made me rethink the way the O'Hara and Wilkes families are portrayed in the Gone with the Wind.

I've been sending my mind away to a new happy place -- the 1860s. But the West, not the antebellum South.*

I didn't include my hardcover copy of Gone with the Wind in my box of discards because I'm hoping that in another few years I can revisit it and enjoy it again.

But I'm a little sad. Because by losing Gone with the Wind, I feel like I've lost a friend. 
*Of course, the more I read about how the Indians were treated, the sadder I become about the West, too.

Too young!

I live next door to a children's home. The kids who are there are either waiting for placement in a foster home, or in sliding-scale affordable daycare while their parents are at work.

Today when I came back from brunch I saw an ambulance in the driveway we share. I saw a little kid of about 8 or 9 being helped onto a stretcher. Surrounded by smiling, encouraging adults, the wee one tearlessly clutched a stuffed bear.

I don't know what was wrong with the child. Clearly not broken bones and there was no oxygen there to help the kid breathe.

I do know that anyone young enough to get comfort from a plush toy is too young to be rushed to a hospital.