Monday, June 26, 2006

Welcome To Fantasy Island


My favorite day of the week has always been Friday. When I was a child, it was the day my daddy got paid which meant my sister and I would load up in his pick-up truck and go to the Taco Bell for lunch during the summer months when school wasn't in session. These days were looked forward to with great anticipation (no fried bologna saucers!), and even as I got older, Friday remained the same -- the day I went out with Hank for the KFC buffet for a late lunch, or got off work early with that Friday feeling in my heart, knowing that I'd put a solid week in and feeling suddenly lighter. Friday is all possibility, money in the bank, a weekend ahead of you.

It was also the night I watched Fantasy Island. I loved the show, from the moment that Tattoo began screaming at the plane in the sky (imagine my horror years later to see the actor that played Tattoo, old and bitter, railing against his success, screening reruns of the show and throwing bottles at the screen while getting progressively more drunk and damaging his already fragile organs) to the end when the guest inevitably had to get out of the mess that getting what she or he wanted had caused, the wish the person had coming true in unexpected ways. This Monkey Paw (perhaps one of the most scary children's books -- a dad wishes for money on the dreaded monkey's paw and his son dies in a factory accident and he gets the insurance is an example of one of its plot twists) premise, while simple, proved enormously effective. I feared Fantasy Island (unlike its leader show, The Love Boat), it didn't promise any happy ending for those who were basically good people. Unlike lots of television from my youth, I have never seen this one as an adult and if I do, I hope it's as scary as I remember. I imagine it would be -- whisked away to a beautiful place that can solve your problems while creating ones far worse -- yeah, I know that story and still I would go even if it meant being greeted by a bitter little man in a white suit yelling at his suave and handsome boss about what was coming next.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"It happened this way: I fell in love and then, because the love was ruining everything I cared about, I had to fall out." Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story

Fantasy Island -- Serve chilled in a martini glass, garnished with a lemon rind.

1 part raspberry liquor

1 part vodka

1 part cranberry juice

Benedictions and Maledictions

In answer to Cindy's question about the marginalization of feminist literature in favor of "chic" lit (an excellent question!):

Before Valentine's Day of this year, I went to a used bookstore in Detroit (John King Books, Ferndale branch), one of my favorites, and it had been rearranged. I'm not one to ask for help so after finding a few copies of Live or Die (one of my favorite Anne Sexton collections) to give as presents for the most Satanic holiday there is (not counting the truly awful Sweetest Day), I went in search of the women's section. I couldn't find it anywhere and had to resort to being led to a dark corner of the store where the clerk told me, "We don't sell much out of this section anymore." The selection had been badly decimated so I picked up a copy of a book about a reporter leaving her husband issued in the 70s and blurbed by Gloria Steinem herself, The Erotic Silence of the American Wife (a book I'd been meaning to read given the title), and an outdated copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves to add to my collection (the oldest one I have lists, among the more standard techniques, the astrological method for birth control -- an idea I love if not the actual practice which seems to rely a lot on timing and the stars and probably results in reading the following sections on pregnacy and abortion).

As women, we have entered a very dark time as our rights are being eroded daily, particularly the rights to our own bodies in both issues of abortion and appearance. In the latter case, we have become both victimizer and victim. If men's expectations weren't enough (and truth be told, no man I have ever known scrutinized women as brutally as women do), we amp up the penalties for those who don't dress well, stay a size two, and wax every stray hair on their bodies. No wonder we're enthralled by the heinousness that comprises most "chic" lit. Like fashion magazines, they provide escape and comfort with equal doses of stupidity with which to lash ourselves. This is not to say that everyone should stick to Marge Piercy novels (which are excellent, especially her book Small Changes) and never read anything light, but I doubt that feminism's goal was to get us to work like dogs so that we could take over the tyranny of beauty maintenance and in turn hobble ourselves from doing anything that could truly improve our lives. Instead we stay focused on who is beautiful and who is "sluttish" (meaning cast out from approved behavior -- mind you, this judgment from a society in which it is acceptable to allow your pre-teen to dress like a 30 year old with jeans down to the ass crack) and what else we can buy from Pottery Barn to improve ourselves and give us the perfect life, the one with the gorgeous husband, the beautifully tousled children, and the dog who never shits on the floor. Yeah, that life. The one we're all living. Men and women. Uh huh.

40 comments:

cindy said...

Michelle,
thank you for articulating the way we live, so perfectly! Let's nominate you for the new spokesperson of our liberation and hope our lives don't keep turning out like Fantasy Island.
xo;)
Cindy

R's Musings said...

Do these awesome entries just fall out of you, Michelle, or is there some prep work involved? :) Love Fridays, too, and Fantasy Island! My best friend, Kelly, & I, wrote scripts for that & the Love Boat, during our junior high school days!

Anonymous said...

That section is out of fashion. Things change. There is a section in Crime and Punishment when a character is literally and figuratively beating a dead horse. Move on. Good prose manifesto, though, professor. I see why they have you teaching argumentation. You have the ability to argue at least two sides of an issue. This is not just your regular creative writing PhD, folks.

Sheila said...

I like Fridays also. Payday is always good.

bonnie said...

Honey,
Let no one cross you who knows what's good for them! What a sizzlin' post. Super-genius! We shall bot be hobbled: pact and manifesto. Silly man types beware.
kiss kiss
Bon Bon

Anonymous said...

"Herve had the culture. Ricardo had a Cordoba(with fine Corinthian leather)." C'est manifique!

Anonymous said...

Hey, truck stop lady. Where'd Scarlett go?

Anonymous said...

That's what fried sausage will do to ya.

Anonymous said...

Noogle your google.

Anonymous said...

Where are the Cleavers?

Anonymous said...

Where is the plane, boss?

Anonymous said...

Go to your room, Tattoo. Read that horror story I told you about.

Anonymous said...

Where is the plane? Taxi!!

Anonymous said...

This has been an Aaron Spelling production.

Anonymous said...

Has Michelle done an ass crack 30 year old yet? Don't touch that dial.

Anonymous said...

Makeup! Wardrobe!

Anonymous said...

Drumroll!

Anonymous said...

What did that guy say in Matchpoint? "You've had too many G and T's, Dear." Woody Allen. Now there's a comedy writer.

Anonymous said...

Was Matchpoint a comedy?

Anonymous said...

No, it was just ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Is that a group?

Anonymous said...

Don't know. Had too many T and G's.

Anonymous said...

Right about now, I'm lookin' for the plane.

Anonymous said...

Call me a cab, will ya? Got one with fine Corintian leather? This night has turned into a truck stop nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by, and articulating the way we live.

Anonymous said...

This has been an Aaron Spelling production.

Anonymous said...

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched. They must be felt.--Herve Villichase

Anonymous said...

Wasn't such a bad whore story after all.

paul said...

O Mighty Isis, What a great picture and wow, the post. but all those anonimous rants give me the willies. Shazzam,

R2 C2

Jason said...

I can sum up why Love Boat is frightening with one, simple word.

Charo

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,
Poor Tattoo. Don't rule Valentines Day out completely, please. Some men like trying to be romantic. Lovely entry today, as always, and a fine photographic image.

Bravo!

Laura said...

I have your class and love you! This is so great, but I'm late for class so I'd better stop reading.

R's Musings said...

Mr. Anonymous,
It seems you have much to say...why not start a blog of your own?

Wichita-Lineman said...

Michelle,

Speaking of Islands, I was wondering, what do you think really happened to Natalie Wood?

Anonymous said...

Today's quote:"I get the willies."--The narrator in Joseph Heller's Something Happened

Anonymous said...

Today's 2nd quote:"...struggling for purchase amidst spirals of manipulation."--Somewhere along the line in Thomas McGuane's Ninety-two in the Shade.

Anonymous said...

It gets billy blazes hot in Michigan sometimes, but some like it hot. And a big Joe E. Brown, ear to ear smile and blinky blink blink eyes to y'all. "Nobody's perfect."

Anonymous said...

Today's 3rd quote: If there is a greater use of artistic repetition than Beethoven's 5th, I don't know what it is. Just ask Van Cliburn.--Anonymous

Anonymous said...

GD, I can't stop this. Somebody shoot me. Michelle, help me, honey. (Leave the gun at home. I've got a box cutter.)

Anonymous said...

"Naked Came The Stranger" Anytime, anywhere, babycakes.