16 May 2006

A Valley of Ashes

Filed under: Books

Everyplace, no matter how desolate or remote now, will someday, or at some previous time have been, a place of importance, or passing interest.

“This desolate place is a valley of ashes, a fantastic farm, where ashes grow like wheat.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald (my ancestor) in “The Great Gatsby”, about the borough of Queens, NY.

11 December 2005

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Filed under: Books

I read Breakfast at Tiffany’s last night. I’ve had the book for many years, it pops up from time to time in moves or other re-organizations, and every time I see it I mean to read it, but don’t. Last night I saw it again, on the little table by Pam’s office that is sort of her “staging area” for things either going into that room or going out of it. This time, I thought, I’m really going to read that, and I did.

I’m in sort of a “reading phase” right now. I felt that I was watching far too much television (I mean, really, how many times can I see the same 127 episodes of “King of the Hill” anyway?) and decided to discipline myself to read more and watch less. I’m about two weeks into it now, and I think it is going well. I read the afore mentioned B@T (more on that later) and am working my way through a book on Chinese History, The Good Earth and Alan Alda’s “never have your dog stuffed”.

(A side note to that, people frequently ask me how I can be reading three or four <or just more than one I guess> books at the same time. I have never understood this, as it isn’t like we’re in school anymore and have to finish this or that book by a certain time, and it isn’t like people only watch one television show until its conclusion before starting another. I never have understood that. Anyway…)

So, back to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The copy I have is in fantastic shape, a nice 1958 hardcover edition that looks to have never been read (certainly not in this house, as mentioned above), the spine was as tight as a drum. I don’t know how it came to be with us, Pam didn’t remember either, perhaps it was a thrift store purchase or it came from Pam’s mother or sister, where a lot of our “where did that come from” things seem to have originated.

It wasn’t very long, about 115 pages or so, and had no chapters, which is so odd by today’s standards that you take notice. It did have breaks, which I always appreciate as a reader, because it’s so hard when you come back to a book after putting it down for a bit picking up where you left off.

I must say, I really enjoyed it. It certainly got me to thinking about all the “Holly Golightlys” in my life, of which I’ve had a few, I’m sure we all have. It seems to me that every girl has a little of that in them, the yearning for the “free” life with lots of suitors and no responsibility.

The first person that came to mind was a girl from my teenage years, let’s call her Dorthy, lest she read this and get ticked off at me, although I haven’t heard from her in going on a decade now so that seems fairly unlikely. I had sort of two lifetimes with Dorthy, one in high school and one in my first year of college.

We’d met my sophmore year, when I moved to California from New York and hit it off because she had done the same thing some years before. I think it was my friend John that first introduced me to her, but I can’t say now as it’s nearly 20 years ago now and I can’t remember where I put my keys yesterday much less something like that, but how we met doesn’t really matter.

She was a “popular girl” of sorts, in spite of being in theatre, which of course in most places is the kiss of unpopularity in most schools, but not in her case. You see she was the Star. Every school has one of those, the girl (or guy I suppose but I have no experience with that) that is sort of the de facto star of every show before it is even realized what it is. I guess, looking back on it now, it’s a fish/pond thing, where you’re the biggest fish in that pond, so you always get the part, even though on the larger scale the pond isn’t that large (like I’m not sure that she got invited to all the “cool” parties, etc.).

So Dorthy was the IT girl, at least to me, and several other boys who shared that particular vocation in school. She always seemed to have a gaggle of guys fawning over her, getting her Cokes, asking her out, etc. and I was Fred. Always there, sometimes of interest to her, and sometimes, more often than not for my taste at the time, not of interest to her. We went back and forth this way for the rest of my high school years, her getting more and more popular and me, still the same in the wings and a ready and eager ear to listen to her various stories and problems stemming from the fact she was the IT girl.

I don’t know what she’s doing now, not posing for mask makers in Africa I’m fairly sure, but who knows? The last time I heard anything about her she was touring with traveling theater productions and doing local commercials in LA. I google her every now and then but get nothing, and don’t really know what I’d do if I did find her, much like Fred.

She was an interesting girl, to be sure, and absolutely my closest brush with Holly Golightly.

« Previous Page