In my long list of dubious honors that include many more participation ribbons than anything red, white, or blue (remember those godforsaken participation ribbons -- orange is the color of failure!), I would have to admit that I was an officer in a Hello Kitty club in the third grade. My friend K, a flaming queen by age five, had decided that we needed a devotion to our favorite new icon. We called ourselves Friends of Hello Kitty! and our main activity, besides gossiping, was working on sticker books. We'd hide out as far as the teachers would allow us to go, our doings as clandestine and serious as a Black Panther's meeting and dissect what made Hello Kitty so special. We'd been fans of Snoopy for as long as we could remember and had lusted after a Disco Snoopy which cost way too much in K's catalogue of doll clothes, and we'd dream about having the fifteen dollars needed to send away for the John Travolta Snoopy, the Snoopy we could make dance. But Hello Kitty was even cooler and more rare -- the most we could find were a couple of erasers at the local Hallmark where the old biddy who ran the place watched us with a death glare to make sure we didn't steal anything. Now Hello Kitty is everywhere, although I only have a few t-shirts with her on them as an ode to my former glory. We, I might point out, Friends of Hello Kitty!, were there from the beginning.
Various writers have pointed out that part of the genius of Hello Kitty is that she has no mouth and therefore cannot speak. There are those who would say that this makes her a perfect female in our patriarchal culture. The only form of expression she has is her outfits which take her various places -- the beach or school or Tokyo or Madrid. I'm a little less cynical on the nature of her popularity. She's beloved because you never know what she's feeling, no smile or frownie face or pout. She's the affable friend, the one who listens to your sorrows. She goes about her days with a certain kind of grace; she can be dressed for any occasion in a flash. Never tired or worried, she can provide comfort in any situation. She adorns women and children alike, dressed as we would like to be dressed, telling the world in an instant where we'd be if we could be anywhere but here.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I dress for women and undress for men." Angie Dickinson
Drinking novel suggestion: White Noise Don DeLillo
Benedictions and Maledictions