How to survive Wednesday

First of all, upon realizing you’ve skipped breakfast on the way to work, don’t try and replace it with a super-sized May West cake. The whole experience was reminiscent of the ‘division dumplings’ scene from the Phantom Tollbooth – I could actually feel myself becoming less and less nourished the more I ate. Urgh.
Along the same lines, except with brain cells in the starring role, is wasting a rare chance to actually sit down and relax on the subway on the MetroNews free paper. I do not wish to provoke backchat involving rocks and glass houses here…but if there ever was anything meant to be read only in quick snatches as a distraction from the random limbs that keep banging into your face, the snoggings of Paris and latest would be it.
“They were so absorbed in each other – it was like the Oscars weren’t even on!” a ‘source’ gushes. A really, really, easily-impressed source. Honey, I hate to break this to you, but I watched the Oscars with my mother, from start to finish, and it was still like they weren’t even on.
Sigh. Where have you gone, Mr. Rochester? Does anybody still hand Jane Eyre over to preteen girls as a coming-of-age ritual, anymore? Because when I was a kid, this was a Big Huge Important Deal, and I still think it could be meaningful to modern media-savvy princesses.

Just think, f’r instance, of all the fun their hip twentysomething selves will eventually get out of being able to envision Britney in corsets. Which is essentially what Blanche Ingram is, since the Brontes’ whole idea of society belles (and beasts) was lifted wholesale from the 1820’s equivalent of People Weekly. Seriously, have you ever read any of that celebrated ‘juvenilia’? Were there any justice in the universe, the junior geniuses of Haworth Parsonage would now be revered as the patron saints of fanfiction. “Know that I doat [sic] on Corsairs,” forsooth.
Anyway, I was pondering all of this meta-context, and it suddenly hit me: the world’s greatest idea for a reality show ever. We round up a bunch of b-list debs, see – Paris and Lindsay and maybe a couple random blondes from the Hills would do for headliners – and we stick them in a Victorian melodrama.
Forcibly detach them from their PDAs, fit ‘em out with whalebone stays, bloomers and about eighteen pounds of petticoats, give ‘em a crash course in the etiquette of the day, and declare the Season open. The judges would all be British, of course…I’m thinking Emma Thompson as a special guest….and points would be deducted, in the form of majestic sarcasm, for every teeniest violation of virtue. Sort of like Pygmalion, except – well, actually a lot like Pygmalion. Never mind, Shaw would approve.
Finish line is a wealthy man and a comfortable marriage; losers face a lifetime stuck in their Cousin Edwin’s attic trying to be ‘useful and busy’, mainly via knitting fascinators for the poor. If they can prove they know what a ‘fascinator’ is, we’ll maybe let them have clotted cream with their tea on Michaelmas.
What do you think? Yeah, well, I think it gave me a lot of enjoyment on the subway, so nuts to you anyway.
–So, um, newsflash: it snowed here in Toronto last night. Now, I realize most of you are in severe denial re: the white stuff, but I’m here to…well, agree totally with that strategy, actually. Any old coping mechanism in a storm, this is my new motto.
Shoemom has adopted what might be called the ‘Joan Collins in Them!’ approach, only with fewer giant mutant ants. “Ah well, the snow is beautiful,” she trills. “Yes…look at it falling…so nice and soft…don’t you see, the snow only wants us to be happy?” OK, I made that last part up. But that’s the general gist.
Myself, I’ve gone for a more proactive stance. I’m relistening to my cache of Matinee with Bob and Ray eps, most of which were recorded in the summer of 1949. Sunshine, baseball, air-conditioner commercials, ‘ocean-cool’ beaches…Ray visiting one of the latter on his day off and returning looking, as the organist jokes, as if they’re about to serve him with a side of fries…
Honest and true, this is very educational. On his first day back on-air, Ray – who was clearly overall one of those people to whom stuff like this just sort of happens – goes off on a long, emotional tirade against everyone who advised him to use ‘baby oil and iodine’ as a sunscreen.
Really. Given the source, also a vague conviction that back in the Good Old Days people couldn’t have been that desperate to look like they’d just come back from Club Med, I was skeptical myself at first. But a quick google confirms that no sir, the can-do Yankee spirit wasn’t going to just sit around waiting for bronzing powder to be invented. A drop or two of iodine added to a bottle of baby oil, baste well, repeat, and hey presto, George Hamilton. Or was it Rouben Mamoulian back then? I’m not sure.
Note to would-be experimenters however, regardless: It’s a little hard to make out amid the anguished screams, but I gather it didn’t work quite as well as fond daydreams would admit. “Drop dead!! You’re all phonies!!! I’ll tell ‘em all, Bob, I will… [sob]…” In case it isn’t totally clear by now, I like Ray Goulding, or at least the impression I have of him, very much. Wish we could’ve sat around and discussed Robert Benchley sometime.

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