Do you ever just NOT want to play? Tired? A bit down? Wishing you were someone. . . .WHERE else? Tonight was going that way and then I checked mail, started a neat chat with a favorite pal and - almost a BONUS - 'ran into' one of my nephews on Facebook. And Bingo I started feeling like my usual responsible, reliable, ln-touch-with-reality self. (Please see photo at left)
(One of the things - of all things - I spoke with my nephew about was literery references. And how he had just recognized one that I'd tossed out inadvertantly, actually reflexively as I had just re-noticed some recent photos of him. He was all duded up for his "Barristers' Ball" affair. Of course MY style of free association took me back - not to my law school days where the normal mind might venture - but to the Roaring Twenties-Dorothy Parker-Algonquin Table Set-quotes arena. Anyway, I suggested a little diversion. So whilst I drivel on about my strong affinity/familiarity with this Era, I'll toss out some literary tripe of the time and we can ALL play, "Who Said That?" Here we go: "I was an indifferent caretaker of my talents." That's the toss, not a glimpse of autobiography.)
As Mom worked, I had many babysitters - starting at an early age. My Grandpa was my favorite but I had a pretty, smart, athletic and very 'into' song/dance second cousin who frequently had the duty. And it was Joan - in truth Joanie - who taught me a slew of songs and the many and not-so-easy moves that went with the WONDERFUL Charleston. It was the BEST of History lessons and Joanie was an accomplished instructor. We'd 'do it up' withheadbands, feathers, long strands of pearls, MAKEUP. Whew! five, six, seven eight. . . .
("Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.")
We'd get books with lots of pictures from the library; I began reading more biographies of gals who were the real deal - Isadora Duncan, of course, although not "known" for her Charleston, was a particular favorite; go to Marx Brothers movies, hoping for a "ballroom scene"; I even learned about the Lah-Dee-Dahs who danced and played "in full dress" on the Hindenberg. It's true. Those people dined and danced and played "in style". so by the time I was in MY teens, I was all about Elvis and Motown and sock hops BUT, I saved all of MY extra earnings to go into the City and see a Broadway musical. Because THOSE people had "IT". Actually, "It" was a book by an English author, Eleanor Glyn, published in 1927. I submit, however, that this "quality" of 'IT' was around long before then. I guess Clara Bow was the 'official "IT" Girl, but 1. I don't believe it was restricted to women and 2. The quality was not acquired - "IT" was HAD or NOT.
("Would you like to sin/ with Eleanor Glyn/On a tiger skin/Or would you prefer/to err with her/on some other fur?")
I wanted and sought "IT". I've already mentioned the Marx Brothers. They certainly had "IT". But so did Fanny Hurst, Babe Ruth, Clare Booth Luce and charles Lindberg, to name a few. This strange quality attracts both sexes; the possessor is totally un-selfconscious, full of self confidence and indifferent to the effect they have on others. For me, the Charleston was the physical manifestation of these qualities - the movements say indeed require, reckless abandon of discipline and overdone structure. Look at Ernest Hemingway, Zelda Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe - yes, they were also usually drunk but with panache, "IT", if you will. They were also hugely talented and bright. Most contributed to Harpers and The New Yorker. They were even called "The Smart Set." They were also capable of the "lows" that were equal to their "highs." They suffered, one might say, at the hands of their talents. I was hoping I'd be able to skip THIS PART and just perfect that funky "knee-move" in the Charleston.
("These are the saddest of possible words:
'Tinker to Evers to Chance.'
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double -
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
Tinker to Evers to Chance.")
As time went on and our lives moved along - Joanie married and moved to Peoria; I went to Georgetown, married a Hoya who still practices Emergency
Medicine because he didn't become the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates; we
had four beautiful children and I ALWAYS sang Joanie's songs to them and made
certain they at least had the exposure to learn/love dance if they so
chose. And although I tried - hard - and loved and laughed alot, I couldn't
avoid the suffering. Had to make time for the pain. One of our
children was taken from us. It will always hurt. But I'll always
sing and dance and continue to teach our six grandkids the same "numbers".
Bye the way, are they the Kids who have "IT"!
("there's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So, I'm thinking of throwing the battle -
Would you kindly direct me to Hell?")
I still think I was a part of "IT" - The Jazz Age, Roaring
Twenties - the whole picture including the music and dancing. But at
times it presents a picture of nervous angularityI recall reading that Isadora Duncan suggested mating the
beautiful, creative people of the world - outside of marriage of course, thereby perpetuating the beautiful and creative. In fact, she wrote to
George Bernard Shaw suggesting the kind of children the two of them might produce, honestly expecting him to father one of her children. GBS was not to be the man.
("What if they had my beauty and your brains?")