August 4, 2008

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To?

Women don’t swoon anymore; have you noticed? Women used to swoon over every little thing: a tidbit of passionate speech from their husbands (sometimes in a handwritten letter); the warm spring air wafting into their bedrooms accompanied by the scent of lilacs; even the clip-clopping sound of a horse’s heavy steps down the road, signaling a trip to the city was in her near future. Indeed the city itself could produce fainting ladies, with its bakeries’ cases piled high with melt-in-your-mouth pastries, excess of tiny shops crammed with treasures and trinkets, and streets that pulsed with the comings and goings of their inhabitants.

Of course, no one writes real letters anymore, or lingers in their bedrooms beyond an alarm clock’s blast, or travels by horse. We order our pastries by the dozen from Dunkin Donuts, unearth trinkets on eBay and cringe at the thought of mixing into the comings and goings of all those city people, preferring to travel by car, alone. But is there nothing left to swoon about?

We still have our gardens, do we not? Wriggling above ground from dry, sandy soil I see bright green beans, zucchini curling on its vines, cantaloupe and squash growing fat and happy, pumpkins and, if treated most tenderly, plump, shiny green peppers. Hollyhock blasts upward in dazzling magenta like fireworks exploding while its neighbor decadent Hibiscus laboriously unfolds huge crimson petals around a most sensuous inner - ahem - shaft. (I couldn’t resist!) Meanwhile tiger lilies, untamed and slightly mischievous, stretch their necks high to bask in the sun, only for a moment before they begin their unruly migration both above and below the soil’s surface. Their cousin, Asian lily, standoffishly refuses to bloom for anyone. Instead, she is inclined to shade the unknown plant that lives below her in a statement of duty, all the while leeching all the moisture from the soil in a most un-ladylike fashion.

Ah, the sumptuous drama of it all! And I’m talking about beans and buds here, people!

And of those letter-writing husbands, who extolled their wives’ graces to everyone they met; are they so far from what we have now? The language is different, to be sure, but are they not as just in their praise as men of yesteryear? There is no sweeter sound than the clatter of a fork on a well-cleaned plate of something I’ve thrown together into a pan. For at the precise moment my fears he will notice how ramshackle and devoid of presentation it is becomes unbearable, he licks his lips and declares, “You’ve never made a bad dish!” And if that compliment wasn’t enough, sometimes it is followed with, “I’ll do the dishes tonight.”

Never were words more entrancing!

In conclusion, ladies, count your blessings. Your life could be filled with the passion, heartbreak and subsequent melancholy of French novels from the 1800s, and if you would dare that path it is not hard to find, though it is ill-advised. But if your desires are of a hearty, more modest and long-lasting variety, I suggest you look in your own backyard.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Madame Bovary, C'est Moi!!


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