The Girl Got Reasons

March has come in as a lion; I’m waiting for the lamb part. Like Demeter, I am anticipating Persephone’s return. Oh no, not another Greek myth! No worries.

I was chatting with a dear friend this morning, and mentioned it might be a day for writing. I asked if she had any requests: “something funny with a tinge of sarcasm!” I hope I can oblige her.

I put this post title in my drafts folder a while ago. I was pissed because I was listing in my head all the women/girls I know who have a lot of “rules.” Rules that must be accommodated for the privilege of their friendship. Some I totally get, but others…I can’t keep them straight. I have a male friend who broke up with a fiancee of four years and was looking – in vain – for insight from me. All I could do was empathize and say, “Look, I’m one of them and I don’t understand them!”

The rules vary a bit. They are mostly about control or not disturbing the status quo. The latter is tempting. The control part, that’s just banal, but shaking up the status quo – well there’s shock value to that. One biggie, and I know I’ll be in trouble for this, is the “c” word. Merely mentioning this issue draws reactions close to apoplexy or swooning. It doesn’t really bother me. As women we should be allowed to use it if we want – we know our own don’t we? The fact that men say it, well I don’t necessarily condone it, but what pink bubble of a cocoon do you have to live in to think that the “c” word isn’t used – by men?

I was fortunate to grow up in a family where censorship was not tolerated. No one used the “c” word that I can remember, but we lived in the real world, so we were exposed to all sorts of things and somehow survived. My mother was much more offended by “shut up” that an expletive. That was her thing. I hate shut up too. Much more than go “f” yourself. Or, “I don’t want to talk about it” – now there has to be context here. To be sure, there are topics that are too touchy, but I remember one instance when I was sincerely concerned about a friend’s welfare and that’s what she said. Okay. I think it was the tone which disappointed me, ungrateful, unpolished, uncouth. Is that enough un’s? It was like a slap. How about, “Thank you for your concern, Clare, but I don’t think I’m ready to talk about.” Done! No problem!

Here’s this girl’s reasons: slamming of doors, not pushing in your chair, unintentional rudeness, not thinking for yourself, not having the courage of your convictions, not being a rufusenik, and the greatest transgression: not having a sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at life, at yourself – well you have my sympathy.

The world has a plethora of rules, maybe we should dial it back a little, not add more rules on top of rules, and be strong enough to be able to handle what’s coming at us. Sure have reasons, but let’s not be Draconian about it shall we?

Back to Demeter and Persephone. I know I can’t help myself. However, they are a fine example of girls with reasons: Demeter mourns the absence of her daughter Persephone so acutely she creates winter. Shouldn’t she be glad that her daughter has shown initiative, moved out of the house, and maybe even gotten her driver’s license? As far as Persephone goes, well she marries Hades, the god of the underworld. Not much new there. Who among us hasn’t fallen for the bad boy? She’s got a nifty arrangement, she spends six months with Hades (their version of Jupiter, Florida?), and returns to her mother and earth for the other six months. Having separate interests is healthy for a marriage. How clever is that?

Yes, they all got reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

    Clare Irwin

 

Mad Men – Part I – The Touch of a Hand

I love this show. I really do. I’ve seen the whole series a couple of times and it never fades. I enjoy long form television, especially on cable channels and “premium” channels like HBO and Showtime. It’s delicious to binge watch, a guilty pleasure and a popular pastime. It can be all-consuming, but in a good way. There are many that have left a deep impression: Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Carnivale, True Blood, True Detective (the first season), The Night Of, Homeland, Dexter, Lost, I’m getting into Westworld….on and on.

Mad Men has a special place in my list of favorites. The style, the cinematography, the set design, the clothes make-up and hair, the scripts, the direction, the acting, the music — all impeccable. And, what plum roles for actors to have — juicy multi-layered parts to play long term. I know that some people think that television is the faded older step sister of film, but I don’t agree — at least not in the general. Each individual episode of these shows are one hour films.

Since I have been watching Mad Men most recently it’s fresh in my mind. It’s hard to say which character I like the best, because in a show as well executed as this one, I love them all. But I think I am most captivated by the relationship between Don (Jon Hamm) and Peggy (Elizabeth Moss). They are wonderful together. Their relationship is complicated; it pendulum swings between love and hate, but at the core there is a deep understanding, respect and genuine fondness between them. Whenever they appear on screen together I know I’m in for a treat.

I realize I’m writing this out of order, but there is an episode where Peggy leaves the firm after taking about as much abuse from Don that she can stand. It’s a tense moment, with underlying anger, when she breaks the news. It’s wonderfully scripted and acted, and at the end of the scene, unexpectedly, Don takes Peggy’s hand and kisses it. Not in a pretentious affected way, and not exactly like a lover, but conveying in the slightest and subtlest of gestures how precious she is to him and how he values her — in his own messed up way. And, Peggy’s reaction…well he just disarms her completely. She’s utterly thrown by the reaction, and tears start to well up. What a gem of a moment!

In another season, “The Suitcase” is a pivotal episode in their relationship, and in Don’s life. The episode spans a raucous night and early morning where there is a lot of chaos. Don knows he is waiting for the news of Anna’s death, the famous Sonny Liston vs. Muhammed Ali fight is happening, it’s Peggy’s birthday, and she bails on her boyfriend and he then bails on her. The following morning, it’s another day and Don is spic and span and in his usual “this never happened” philosophy of life — ready for another workday. Peggy comes in rumpled and tired, and they discuss an ad — everything but the elephant in the room. But at the end of the scene, both their hands are resting on the desk, Don takes her hand, covers his with hers and they look at each other — it’s all communicated in that gesture and look. Beautiful.

As I think about it there is another wonderful “hand” moment. Earlier in the series, Betty (January Jones) runs into Glen Bishop (Marten Holden Weiner) the little boy who has a crush on her. Glen is sitting in the car waiting on his mother, and Betty comes up to the passenger window to talk to him. She starts to cry — he’s the only one she can really communicate with — and Glen, so sweetly, offers his mitten-ed hand for her to hold. It’s lovely.

A simple touch can convey a great deal — holding hands, touching someone’s arm, a pat. I think we forget how this small act of connection is, in fact, so very large. Have we lost sight of that? Nowadays, we tend toward the extreme or grand gesture, hugs, air kisses, which often seem to have less meaning. Or else we move straight to the erotic. But hand touches, think of all we can do with our hands, they speak so many languages: comfort, love, support, empathy, understanding, solidarity….Let’s not forget that.

Thank you to all the super talented cast, writers, creators, everyone beyond the camera, and crew of Mad Men for giving us such an outstanding, glorious, and full of thought, gift.

Clare Irwin