Okay, so I read my last entry, Girl At Mirror, and fessed up to my self-indulgence whining about a simpler time. An easier time. A time when sex determined a person's future and if you wanted to fit in and be happy, you'd best memorize your gender lessons well. Sexual stereotyping was easy for me, though. I was a heterosexual, white, middle-classed, intelligent, cute, and a definitely feminine female. Therein lies my freedom to wax nostalgic about a 1950's childhood while denying the bitter reality of oppression.
For those young'uns reading my memoirs, (you poor dears!) maybe you're curious about the brainwashing we 50's folks accepted as the gospel truth. Girls like myself were devoted to doing our gender appropriately. After all, you didn't wanna make father, who knows best, uncomfortable.
This ten-minute movie typifies the educational films we were subjected to during my grade school education. We were also taught to duck-and-cover should a nuclear bomb explode in our town, not to mention the terrifying drills interrupting classroom lectures. Without warning, a central alarm blasted loudly enough and repetitively enough for a first-grader to develop PTSD by the time she made it to fifth grade. But that's beside the point. Although maybe there is a connection to having THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS scared out of you and then assuming a girl needed a protector, like a man, to keep her safe from bad people. We all knew that should a bomb land on our school, boys would take off their coats and shelter girls huddled like bunny rabbits under their desks.
Anyway, being a teacher's-pet-type of student, I dutifully paid strict attention to the minutest of details in every film on how to please the man of the house and thus do family 'right'. Why oh why wasn't I blessed with ADHD like other siblings?
But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I was taking notes.
I shoulda been drawing rude pictures of the teacher, or shooting spit balls at snickering boys with boogers on their fingertips.
But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I got straight A's in home economics, cake decorating, and floral design. I was even crowned FFA Queen in high school because I could roll out a flaky crust and milk a cow while the cherry pie was cooling on a window sill.
As a result of my dedicated earnestness to do everything God had supposedly ordained as the Plan for Familial Happiness, I can tell you why fudge turns to sugar, and I can shake a fine butter from a fresh quart of milk. I can arrange a bouquet cut from my own perennial garden and then artfully center it on a table mannerly set for a five-course meal ensuring a balanced variety of nutrients keeping my children healthy and strong.
And I can feed a husband properly.
I can select the perfect background music to enhance a family's dinner experience, having recovered dining chairs myself to save money and deftly co-ordinating the upholstery to walls that had been custom faux-painted by none other than yours truly. I can create an environment in which my family feels regal and blessed and safe, all on a budget that would make most people cringe. Why, I can even whip up a Baked Alaska in the summertime while Potatoes Dauphinoise are browning in the oven. Idaho potatoes, bien sur.
And I can speak French. French being such a romantic and intellectual language, don't you know. Having a wife who speaks French is beaucoup impressive to a husband's business associates and anyone else who's never actually lived in France. Et Voila.
But what I cannot do is earn my right to be seen as a human being instead of a human doing.
I was a full-bodied, good-hearted woman, trapped in a strip of 16mm black and white perforated film stock, losing my luster as movies do over time.
We can keep doing and doing and doing in the childish belief that every screenplay scripted by tradition will have a predictably happy ending. Maturation, I am thinking this morning, requires unlearning memorized scripts so we can rescue the Self from self-less-ness and therein claim our right to be 3-D human.
If life has her way with us (and she's a willful force, isn't she?) we'll come to realize we are more than what we do for others. A pivotal realization, to be sure! At this moment in our lives when we claim our full humanity as human beings, not doings, a decision must be made:
The leading lady can take a deep breath and feel her way out of a two-dimensional film. Or, she can remain in her place on freeze-frame, continually being burnt each time the projector gets stuck.
And projectors get stuck...a lot.