Sunday, March 06, 2005

Women's Month and Two of my favorite time zones

Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1770 and 1970. Posted by Hello

Williamsburg, VA is one of my all-time favorite historical memories. Another is my parents as young people still unstamped by life's demands. I always think of Mom when I look at this postcard, and especially today during Women's Month (you didn't know?). Of course, while women have come a long way, baby, since colonial America, these days their approved avatar is not like the woman on the bicycle because, well, lots of reasons. She's got hips and she looks kind of soft. Today's ideal woman is more like this, or this.

And so the Salt Lick celebrates Women's Month with a passage from Virginian Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, describing the women at a high-society social gathering:

The women came in two varieties. First, there were women in their late thirties and in their forties and older (women “of a certain age”), all of them skin and bones (starved to near perfection). To compensate for the concupiscence missing form their juiceless ribs and atrophied backsides, they turned to the dress designers. This season no puffs, flounces, pleats, ruffles, bibs, bows, battings, scallops, laces, darts or shirrs on the bias were too extreme. They were the social X rays, to use the phrase that had bubbled up into Sherman’s own brain. Second, there were the so-called Lemon Tarts. These were women in their twenties or early thirties, mostly blondes (the Lemon in the tarts), who were the second, third, and fourth wives or live-in girlfriends of men over forty or fifty or sixty (or seventy), the sort of women men refer to, quite without thinking, as girls. This season the Tart was able to flaunt the natural advantages of youth by showing her legs from well above the knee and emphasizing her round bottom (something no X ray had). What was entirely missing [from the party] was that manner of woman who is neither young nor very old, who has laid in a lining of subcutaneous fat, who glows with plumpness and a rosy face that speaks, without a word, of home and hearth and hot food ready at six and stories read aloud at night and conversations while seated on the edge of the bed, just before the Sandman comes. In short, no one ever invited... Mother.

Happy Women's Month, Mother. If it were up to me, you'd have gotten the month, and they'd have only gotten the day.