Sunday, October 14, 2007

Guys and Dolls and Me

I like to think that I'm a feminist. In fact, I know I'm a feminist. So sometimes, the things that I do, and the things that I like, surprise me. Horrify me even. How so, you ask?

Well, this morning I had to replace the drivers' side headlight in my car. I took out the manual. I read it, growing increasingly perplexed as it instructed me to remove power steering this, and fluid that, in order to access the light. I opened the hood. I looked at the picture in the book. I looked at the actual stuff going on under the hood. I closed the hood and drove to the Canadian Tire, where I waited for almost 2 hours to have the guy do it for me, for an extra $19.99.

(Not my car - but you get the idea)

Why? Because looking at all those big metal things under the hood, and contemplating doing anything to them besides opening the little blue lid to add windshield washer fluid scared me. A lot.

Now, this evening, I've been enjoying one of my secret delights in the realm of movies: Guys and Dolls!!! The story is horrifying in the extreme. The dialogue and lyrics are shockingly retrograde. (See the IMDB record for a bit of insight).

The worst of it is, perhaps, the song entitled "Adelaide's Lament":

Look, Adelaide, you're gettin' yourself upset! You and I are gonna be alright.
After all, we love each other, and we're gonna get married!
I don't believe you anymore.
But it's true! Oh, you'll get better tomorrow; come on!
Cheer up, honey, let's see that old smile!
That's my girl, see you tomorrow!
It says here...
The average unmarried female
Basic'lly insecure
Due to some long frustration
May react
With psychosomatic symptoms
Difficult to endure
Affecting the upper respiratory tract
In other words,
Just from waiting around
For that plain little band of gold
A person can develop a cold
You can spray her wherever you figure
The streptococci lurk
You can give her a shot
For whatever she's got
But it just won't work
If she's tired of getting the fish-eye
From the hotel clerk
A person
Can develop a cold
It says here...
The female remaining single
Just in the legal sense
Shows a neurotic tendency see note
neurotic tendency see note?
Oh, see note ah!
Chronic organic syndromes
Toxic or hypertense
Involving the eye,
The ear and the nose and throat
In other words,
Just from wond'rin'
Whether the wedding is on or off,
A person
Can develop a cough!
You can feed her all day
With the Vitamin A
And the Bromo Fizz
But the medicine never
Gets anywhere near
Where the trouble is!
If she's getting a kind
Of name for herself
And the name ain't "his"
A person
Can develop a cough
And further more
Just from stalling
And stalling and stalling
The wedding trip
A person
Can develop La grippe
When they get on a train
For Niag'ra
And she can hear church bells chime
The compartment is air conditioned
And the mood sublime
Then they get off at Saratoga
For the fourteenth time
A person
Can develop La grippe
La grippe, La post nasal drip
With the wheezes
And the sneezes
And a sinus that's really a pip!
From a lack of community property
And a feeling she's getting too old
A person
Can develop
A bad, bad cold!

Ya. Terrible right? But I LOVE this musical. It is so catchy! The old-school gangsters aesthetic is fun - who doesn't love a fedora? Everything ends happily. The baddies are baddies because they shoot craps and don't particularly want to rush into marriage. It has Frank Sinatra and a young and lithe Marlon Brando. And some of the crowd numbers are just fabulous.

So, what's a girl to do? Stand up for womanhood? Or enjoy this 1950s horror for the musical spectacle that it is, ignoring the abhorrent story?

In this case, I think it is just to plain catchy. I can't help myself. I love it. But I am ashamed a little.


Maggie said...

We all have our shameful secrets. Mine is ... no, I think I'm still keeping mine secret. ;)

False Prophet said...

Not to bolster the retrograde forces of the patriarchy via a white knight trope or anything, but next time you have a minor automobile issue like that, I might be able to help you out. I've changed headlights and taillights a couple of times, even. :-)

And I find most people of our generation, men and women, seem to be ignorant of the operation of their automobiles. I, the cloistered bookworm, would probably be the same if my father wasn't in the auto service industry.