While in Tucson last weekend we took the opportunity to pay our respects to an all but dead Borders. As expected, the place had been ransacked – going from trendy, over-priced retail scene to shabby discount bookstore (not even the quirky-fun kind) in a matter of weeks. And as the employees chugged along in their duties, looking more than a little depressed, the overhead speakers played Daft Punk’s “Around the World” as if harkening back to a time when business (everywhere) was booming.
In the rumble I found a copy of “Dorthy Parker: Complete Poems”. What works of hers I’d owned before had vanished in the last decade, and I’d been meaning to replenish my Parker supply. Especially since, every few years, I reread her verse and find it strikes me in new and meaningful ways.
In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!
– Dorothy Parker, “Indian Summer”
Makes me want to time travel back one hundred years just to be her bestest friend.
In the “Complete Poems” introduction I learned Mz. P had gone rounds with suicidal thought. I knew she’d made whimsy of the topic, but if I’d ever read of her deeper struggles I can’t recall. When you think female-poet-suicide, you think Plath.
It was comforting to know a successful, decidedly sane lady fought some dark demons and won. It’s more so refreshing that she made light of it. I feel relieved that, while reading her words at least, I don’t have to kowtow to the pressure to be an enlightened, happy, well-adjusted, upbeat woman – exuding nothing but positive energy and singing choruses of kumbaya all the stinking time. When I’m with Dorothy it’s perfectly acceptable to stick my tongue out at the world and joyously give it both middle fingers.
What’s even better, I feel like less of a “bad person” for doing so and more of an honest one. And then – would you look at that – I’m happy after all.