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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Plight of the Tall Girl

Drusilla wields her pistols.
Don't get me wrong; there are lots of really great things about being tall. I can reach the top shelf, see over heads in a movie theater, even look formidable without the torture of high heels. But there are times that, well, it's not so welcome. I'm finally reading Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, and boy, does he have something to say on the subject! Bear in mind, as you read the following, that I was born in Dallas, and that one of my nicknames in high school was actually "The Amazon". And, lest you think that this is something that has tortured me, a slight from adolescence that has permanently and negatively affected me for a decade, know that I recall it with the same sense of pride I felt when one of my favorite professors told me, "Madame, you are like Faulkner's character Drusilla from The Unvanquished, who carries two pistols, and knows how to use them."

She is magnificent with her split tooth and her Prince Val bangs split on her forehead. Gray eyes and wide black brows, a good arm and a fine swell of calf above her cellophane boot. One of those solitary Amazons one sees on Fifty-seventh Street in New York or in Nieman Marcus in Dallas. Our eyes meet. Am I mistaken or does the corner of her mouth tuck in ever so slightly and the petal of her lower lip curl out ever so richly? She is smiling -- at me! My mind hits upon half a dozen schemes to circumvent the terrible moment of separation. No doubt she is a Texan. They are nearly always bad judges of men, these splendid Amazons. Most men are afraid of them and so they fall victim to the first little Mickey Rooney that comes along. In a better world I should be able to speak to her: come, darling, you can see that I love you. If you are planning to meet some little Mickey, think better of it. What a tragedy it is that I do not know her, will probably never see her again. What good times we could have! This very afternoon we could go spinning along the Gulf Coast. What consideration and tenderness I could show her! If it were a movie, I would have only to wait. The bus would get lost or the city would be bombed and she and I would tend the wounded. As it is, I may as well stop thinking about her... I... forget about the girl. (12-13, Vintage Books)

I'll leave you to your own reflections.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, yes, Walker Percy. What an interesting author he was. I know I have read the Moviegoer but I remember very little of it, except an interview with Percy when he says that someone he knows (a nephew perhaps) goes to the movies so early in the day that it is still daylight when he comes out of the theater. This, for reasons that I cannot remember, was not a good thing according to Percy.

    I'm not so sure that Texas Amazons have too much trouble attracting men worthy of them. I mean, its Texas after all. Now, if such a woman should suddenly and unfortunately find herself living in New England she would, indeed, wither away for years while one Mickey Rooney after another spoke to her in his squeaky, New Englandie voice. I understand that up there pick up lines usually have to do with politics or the environment such as: Hey babe, don't you think this obsession with bottled water leads to way too many empty plastic bottles clogging up the land fills? Or this one: guaranteed to warm the heart of any native born New England female under the age of 50: Hey babe, isn't it great that we now have universal healthcare. Let me buy you a drink to celebrate. (What is not spoken is: "...while I can still afford to buy you a drink). No, I think it much better that the Texas Amazon remain in Texas