Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gilbert Blythe and the Women

"Did you know Gilbert Blythe is dying?"

Those words were among the most tragic of my childhood. I grew up on Anne of Green Gables. Televised the year I was born, Anne was who I most wanted to be when I grew up, although my hair was the color of Diana's, and like Diana, I was born in February. Anne was my role model. I borrowed her expressions, talked about needing scope for my imagination, and wished for puffed sleeves with all my might. But most of all, I wanted Gilbert Blythe. 

Gilbert Blythe was the male character who most defined my childhood. With a father uninterested in anything to do with me, Gilbert Blythe was the one who survived my man hating era after my mom finally divorced my dad, being the one remaining male paper doll to survive the Danae-enacted-eviction of all the other male paper dolls. 

Gilbert was kind. No, he wasn't dashing. He didn't go overseas and have daring adventures. He wasn't rich or titled. He worked hard, went to college, and became a doctor. He wasn't brooding. He wasn't emotionally unavailable. He wasn't like Mr. Darcy, or Mr. Rochester, or any of the other literary crushes I would later have, but he was Gilbert, patient, kind, and always set on Anne.

Love, we are often told, is a passionate affair, filled with fire and sparks. Think of Scarlett and Rhett. Think of Daisy and Gatsby. But Gilbert and Anne are the ones who taught us that sometimes, oftentimes, love comes in the form of a kindly friend, one who we can't imagine life without. 

Life gets in the way, and we forget this, because we are busy, and trying to have it all, leaning in and leaning out until we forget which way we're supposed to go, much less what we are supposed to look for in another.

Then a generation of women like me were dashed back into reality when we heard that Jonathan Crombie died at age 48. 

I had no idea that so many knew who he was, until I finally capitulated tonight and went online to order the DVDs from Amazon. They're out of stock. They are out of stock at all my local Barnes and Noble stores. Even the complete collection of DVDs which adds up to over a hundred dollars and probably contains more discs than I am comfortable with switching in a three hour Annefest is out of stock until the end of the month. 

For a generation of us, Gilbert Blythe was the one. We have all been reminded that he did mean something to us, something that no other childhood crush meant, and something that's hard to express to our current significant others and even to ourselves. He meant that it's okay to settle down into a comfortable life, and that kindness is perhaps the most important virtue to look for in other people, for Gilbert Blythe was kindness personified. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Where'd You Go, Lorelai?

Maybe it's a sign of my sad little cat lady life, or maybe it's just a sign that I'm done with the world, but the best news I have had all month was the news that Gilmore Girls was coming to Netflix.

Before you dismiss me as just another would-be manic pixie dream girl (been there, done that, only nets you heartache, but that's a tale for another day), rest assured. I have been raised on the finest of classic television and movies. My earliest memory is watching Seinfeld when I was three, at age five had seen all of Dead Poet's Society, by age six I had sat through most of 1939's golden year of filmmaking. But there's nothing quite like Gilmore Girls.

You've heard about the fast talking. You've heard about the manic pop culture merry go round of conversation. You've heard about the epic theme song, how Melissa McCartney got her start, and about the dance episode. These are all true, but the thing that brings us back to Gilmore Girls isn't all that. It's the story of three generations of women, and how they interact.

Even in a perfect television show, people will find things to whine about. Lorelai might be bratty sometimes, and Rory might make mistakes. Sometimes Emily is evil, and sometimes the guys in the show are just dumb. No, they aren't perfect, but if they were perfect, we'd all be complaining that they were too one-dimensional. Gilmore Girls is an example of how a masterpiece cannot possibly please everyone, and therefore an example for girls everywhere. Don't worry about being perfect. Don't worry about your coffee addiction. Don't worry if you prefer to read oodles of unknown authors versus Gillian Flynn. Don't worry if your high school boyfriend turns out to be completely and utterly boring, or if your college boyfriend turns out to be a self-absorbed jerk.

Just be yourself, the messy imperfect self you are, and don't let anyone shame you for binge watching Gilmore Girls on your couch, wrapped in a heating pad, with the cat, (a bag of chocolate chips because you are out of candy), and two bottles of wine. Because that's what I'm doing right now, and let me tell you, it feels great.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Laundry List for Life

It's been a long summer of doom and gloom. Looking back on this year, here are a few things which I will and won't miss.*

Things I Won't Miss:

People who complain about Millennials.

People who write articles claiming that the Millennials will bring about the zombie apocalypse.

People who think that the zombie apocalypse is going to happen soon.

Adults who suck up to children by asking them questions, and when the children don't answer, simply repeat the question louder.

Books named the Male Occupation's Wife, Daughter, Niece, Grandmother, Step-Mother or Mother-in-Law. It's not that I have anything against men, it's just authors should be able to use a little imagination when it comes to naming the books they have labored over for long periods of time.

Congress. But since they are representative of the people who elect them, maybe that should be Americans in general.

People who take the concept of life hacks to extremes. Examples, the life hack for the Constitution which will restore America to Jeffersonian bliss, the life hack that will fix your cable bill and save you hundreds of dollars, and tax people who claim they can hack your taxes and save you money somehow. It's false, people. Don't buy into their lies.

Scary women who wear dominatrix boots and pretend they're business casual when we all know it's a desperate plea for attention.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, because obviously it's better to douse yourself in miserably cold water than be forced to donate. Or perhaps we should call this forced donation in general.

Unintelligible acronyms like TCOT, which always makes me think of tabby cats on twitter, and not whatever tea party mumbo jumbo it most likely means.

Things I Will Miss:

Earbuds and how they block out the entire world.

The idea of bourbon.

Somedays in Europe.

The hope of snow days as an adult.

Really strong coffee.

Talking about ghosts, black cats, and unexplained deaths around very superstitious people.

Candy Crush. Because sometimes that's all that is needed after a long day.

Unexpected flowers which are not roses so cannot be a stand in to mark an important day, but rather make an unimportant day important.

Television binge watching on the couch.

The joy of telling people I'm busy when I'm actually binge watching television on the couch.



*Thanks to Nora Ephron for the idea of creating lists of what one will and won't miss.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Platonic Form of England

When faced with the prospect of meeting a real, live, English person, I always get excited. Raised on a steady diet of BBC miniseries ranging from the famous one which shall remain nameless which starred Colin Firth, to the really archaic adaptations of Thomas Hardy, I’ve always preferred British television to that of American, and in this glorious age of Downton Abbey and BBC America, I, like Plato, know the form of the perfect British person. The British man should be a mix of Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Tom Hiddleston, and Alan Rickman. The British woman should be a mix of Emma Thompson, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, and Emma Watson. 

So when I meet a British person who could easily pass for an American exhibiting the worst of American fashions, it’s as if my beautiful bubble of Dickensian fantasies has been burst. 

This tragedy happened to me quite recently. I had to listen carefully for any hint of an accent, and he dressed just like an American. Not a hint of tweed, not a hint of whimsy, nothing. He may have even had American weapons hidden on his person. 

That is the main reason I have never been to England. A Platonic form of England lives in my head, and to wake up someday and realize that it is only perfect, grey, misty, beautiful London in my head, and in reality is just like New York City is a sadness which I cannot bear. So I shall shut my eyes to it. When someday I visit the great empire that was, I shall confine myself to Scotland, which I have no expectations of, and therefore cannot disappoint me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

On Beards, Daisies, and the American Man

Beards have three purposes. The first is to hide features which need hiding in order to be made marketable. Think Abraham Lincoln, whose beard won him the presidency of the United States. The second is to enhance features on an already good looking face, giving it a rakish or dangerous look. Think Rex Harrison, who grew a beard to win over American audiences and push his career to transatlantic stretches. Think Cary Grant, who sported a particularly nice one in his eighties. These men understood that beards weren't excuses for laziness on the face. They understood that growing a beard meant that they would have to shoulder the great responsibility of taking care of their beards. 

The last purpose of a beard is one which is unique to Major League Baseball, and that is to grow the largest, scariest beard you can possibly come up with in order to freak out your opponents who are half expecting a rat to crawl out and launch itself at them. 

All of these are worthy pursuits, ones I can completely respect. But we live in the age of the hipster, one which takes fashions of old, re-appropriating them for the new, and often losing something in the translation of said fashions. In the pursuit of manliness, men often forget the key step of grooming and upkeep, meaning that their faces often look as if a small, unidentified mammal (hitherto only found in the darkest depths of the deepest forests), crawled onto their faces, and promptly died there. If I see one more hideous beard, with uneven hairs growing out, catching the light just so, I think I might scream. 

The beard craze is out of hand, and needs to be stopped. A beard should enhance the face, not make the owner of the beard look like they belong on a park bench with a Hefty bag of his most prized possessions. I can only assume that misguided men everywhere believe beards are catnip to girls, awakening some long slumbering impulse to mate. That's not true, because nothing about the raggedy hair growing out of your face says to a girl that you are a superior specimen of virility. The recent trend of weaving daisy chains in your beard and then Instagramming said monstrosity makes me feel even less convinced that you have any viable sperm in your body, and even more convinced that you are uninterested in anything but your own self. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Corgis: The Socially Acceptable Possum; or, Does Anything Good Come Out of Wales?

There’s an old saying that pets resemble their owners. Or maybe it’s vice versa. This isn’t always true. However it is true that your pet may have your personality. So what kind of dog you choose to own can say a lot about you. 

Some dogs are obviously great. Like collies. Anyone who owns a collie is usually a very good person, because Lassie. People who own golden retrievers also fall into the category of great people. Fussy people have fussy little Shih Tzus, and quirky people who often have very sage advice get Scotty dogs. 

And then there are corgis.

I first realized that corgis are a symbol of all that is wrong with this world when I saw one for the first time. I was watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, an annual event in our house that caused all matter of excitement for my sister and I. My mom would record it, and then we would watch it at intervals over the course of about a week, taking great care to stay away from all the news channels. This was before the days of the Internet, where people complain about going on CNN’s homepage and finding spoilers for sports events. Back then, we used common sense about avoiding spoilers. But back to the subject of demon dogs.

The camera was focusing on the head, slowly panning to reveal a body which most decidedly did not fit with the head. I asked my mom why Westminster was letting mutant dogs in its dog show. Corgis aren't mutant, she replied. They're a thing. Just a very ugly thing, and don't say anything because your father's family likes them and we don't want him to cause another scene.

Corgis are the dog version of Frankenstein's monster, and whoever designed them had about as much originality as Dr. Frankenstein, for they clearly stole their legs from basset hounds, their faces from beagles, and the bodies from a dog which most likely had much longer legs. In short, corgis are the stuff that nightmares are made of. 

More inbred than cocker spaniels, corgis are, incidentally, the queen's favorite dog. This should be no shock to anyone, since the Windsor family may be more inbred than cocker spaniels. Perhaps like beings attract, or perhaps it's all part of an evil plan on the part of a corgi breeder who is lining Queen Elizabeth's coffers in exchange for good advertising. Eventually they may line her coffin, because  Prince Charles is never photographed with his mother's beloved pests. One can only imagine his mother's obsession with mutant dwarf canines have soured him on the species for life. We also know that Lupo is most decidedly not a corgi. 

Whatever your stance may be on corgis, I think we can all agree that they are pitied, and used as a kind of object lesson. Corgis should be the face of why incest is never a good idea.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Life Lessons From Tom Kitten

Though people love to argue these days, one thing almost everyone can agree upon is that the years of your childhood form the basis of who you are. 

I was reminded of my childhood when someone recently tweeted out a copy of part of the Beatrix Potter tale called, well, I can't remember the name. I only know some very large, mean mice, (or were they rats) decided to capture poor Tom Kitten (don't ask me how since he was easily large enough to sit on them, but then again, they were quite tall), roll him up in butter and dough, and then stick him in the oven.

As an adult I look at this in horror. How perfectly monstrous to even propose that evil mutant mice would decide to bake a kitten alive. A bad kitten, but still very much a kitten. A furry, fluffy kitten wearing a fancy blue romper. A romper I don't think they were even planning on taking off, which leads me to wonder how much of this was hunger and how much was simply revenge.

With this in mind, the mutant mice seem like sadistic kidnappers from a Coen brothers movie. What sort of monster would roll a child in dough, bake him, and then leave him for his mother to find? Evil mutant mice, that's who. 

But we never think of this as children. We don't think about the deeper meanings inherent in baking poor Tom Kitten (and rolling him in dough. Ew.) We just know that that very tall mouse and her evil chubby cohort mouse was evil, and because of this we unconsciously distrust anyone who vaguely resembles these two mice. You just know these mice were most likely shifty eyed, even when dealing with those of their own species and not just rambunctious kittens.

These are important life lessons. The lesson of why you shouldn't venture into spaces where evil mutant mice could possibly truss you up with string and cover you with butter quite easily transitions into why you should away from mean spirited people in general. And ultimately into why you should never trust anyone who cannot make eye contact, because it almost certainly will never come to an ending of buttercups and daisies, but will turn your life into a tragedy. 

People are always concerned with what to teach our children nowadays, but I believe that perhaps we would have more luck with future generations if we gave them more of the horrifying Beatrix Potter so that hopefully some sense could crop up in their heads years later, when confronted with people who may be just like the mutant mice, though they look like human beings. 

Because sadly, a lot of human beings are out there who have the souls of evil mutant mice.