Prunes and Prism

RULES FOR YOUNG LADIES: Some arch advice on snagging a husband. Exercising the mouth into a pretty shape through repetition of certain words seems to have been an indoor sport for young nineteenth-century girls; in Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens' overly bred girl repeats, "papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism." (

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Greetings from Choctaw Ridge

The sad thing is, you get to feeling tired and overwhelmed and sorry for yourself, and one day you realize it has literally been years since you even thought about "Ode to Billie Joe," much less sang what parts of it you can remember.*

Today the Comrade and I drove up through the Hudson River Valley. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is, and how much I want a football jersey from Sleepy Hollow High School. Those valley towns are like quaint, sweet theater scrims that rich ex-Manhattanites have hung on the scaffolding so they can stage their own version of small-town America, one with day spas and tinned biscuits from Italy.**

We walked the Main Street of Tarrytown, over the commuter-train tracks and down to the park at the waterfront. At the edge of the river we could see a lighthouse way down the bank on our right, and on our left, the Comrade pointed out, far away on the other side of the Tappan Zee, there was Manhattan. From where we were it looked like the Emerald City.

We sat on a park bench to take big whiffs of the stinking charm, when the band under the picnic shelter began to play "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Werewolves of London" -- at the same time.

If I'm lying, I'm dying. I don't know how many of you spent your formative years stretched out on the hood of somebody's Trans Am talking to Mary J, but let me lay a bet that it wasn't enough time for you to come to the conclusion that the two songs have essentially the same beat (not to mention the same party-hearty appeal), and when the chorus of one is combined with the werewolf howl of the other, the result, anyone would be forced to admit, is kind of genius.

There we all were, some of us with our red plastic cups full of warm beer -- only blocks from an Aveda Concept salon, and yet so far away.

* My new favorite version is by Scarlett, which I found on iTunes. Who is this? Should I be ashamed?

** Which is a small-town America I would, make no mistake, embrace wholeheartedly if I made enough money. As opposed to the small town in America where I actually come from, which spent the '90s embroiled in a holy war between Strip Malls and Liquor By the Drink. Guess who won, and I'll take you to the Cheesecake Factory off Mt. Juliet Road. Daiquiris on me.


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