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ehle64
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 7:41 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 7149 Location: NYC; US&A
David Sedaris wrote:

My home well, one of my homes.


in the book's 3rd essay, "The Ship Shape". I could totally see that woman in the dry cleaners. I've met them and noticed them all my life. Perhaps a small gay boy with dreams notices these people more than others. I was raised in about 15 different houses growing up, even a trailer, so I always had my eyes on the haves. Did anyone else place the stress of the phrase on the word "one", or was it just me?? I love that he and his mother shared that experience together and that's how I kept hearing her pomposity in my head.
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pedersencr
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 8:39 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
No, Ehle,
It has nothing to do with being gay or having dreams or anything else IMO. Such people seem to exist at all times in all places. I remember my mother's favorite gesture for when people got hoity-toity, as we called it (in Brooklyn long ago). She would just put the back of her fingertip sideways under the tip of her nose and lift her nose in the air with it as she tipped her head back. Only much, much later did I come to find out that the motion of lifing one's nose (with a sniff) and averting one's gaze was, in centuries past, called "cocking a snook" at someone. So they also had a use for the gesture long long ago. Smile

Incidentally, Sedaris himself seems to be guilty of the same thing when he mentions much later on, and seemingly for no apparent reason, that his dentist is in Paris. Smile That surprised me, in view of his big deal about the woman you just mentioned.

Charles
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ehle64
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:03 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 7149 Location: NYC; US&A
That's great. I love the phrase hoity-toity. I've also had the distinction of being called out by my own family, no less. One of my Mother's favorite things to say about me is that she has a son that was raised on a beer budget with champagne tastes. What can I say?
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pedersencr
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:21 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
Ehle,
There's a lot of us in that boat too! LOL Very Happy

However, in the story you mentioned, I was struck by the gentler view that the mother had of the matter. Though she indeed shared her son's mockery of the woman, she also seemed to express a less critical view of it, as if attempting to provide a civilizing influence for him, for want of a better word. To lessen his disdain is the way I read it. Which her son did not understand and which, the way she phrased it, seems improbable for us the reader to understand either, but that was my reaction to her tentatively phrased comment "so that people could be happy for her."

Charles
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pedersencr
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
Ehle,
In fact, following up on the two thoughts of that post, it seems to me that the young David is a rather angry young man, while his mother is the calming influence within the family.

It is she who suggests that he should really look at himself when he is gorging himself with candy. It is she who isn't quite so harsh on the woman with two (or more!) houses. It is she who cries when he has to leave home and apologizes to him. And it is she who spends quiet times at the shore looking out at the ocean.

He on the other hand was really pissed at the idea of sharing his candy, was angry enough to put his sister Tiffany in front of a car, was really into mocking the hoity-toity woman, and later really was able to disparage his siblings and relatives with what I thought was unseemly venom.

Charles
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yambu
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:53 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 23 May 2004 Posts: 6441 Location: SF Bay Area
The dry cleaner episode is enhanced by the listener: "The Korean man nodded, the way you do when you're a foreigner and understand that someone has finished a sentence." I love that.
But this becomes a sad little story, of a father so selfish that he will spin a dream for his family, just so that he can dwell in the center of it for awhile.

BTW, Charles, my mother, aunt and neighbors, all in the Bronx, cocked the snoot all the time. (That's what they called it, cocking the snoot, or nose.) I never saw a man do it. And I had always assumed it was Irish, but I'm not certain.

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yambu
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:55 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 23 May 2004 Posts: 6441 Location: SF Bay Area
Was anyone bothered that the son and two daughters would gang up on Gretchen and beat her until her arms were black and blue? That's extreme.

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mitty
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1359 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
And to beat up Gretchen over the fact that somehow she had caused the rain. Nice family of kids eh? And right after that he compares the "mottled pewter" of the sky to Gretchen's subsequent bruises. Perhaps the fact that Gretchen is able to cope with what the others consider setbacks had something to do with it.

Yes Yambu it really bothered me.

Now first of all, I was an only child. But how normal is it to put a child (sibling) (Tiffany) in the street to be run over so that mother would let them in? I have to say I thought of the Desperate Housewife with the passel of kids! The way they acted, I almost don't blame her!!
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ehle64
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:11 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 7149 Location: NYC; US&A
Great gravy people. Don't you know by now that kids are just hateful?

Great stuff, please keep it coming!
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pedersencr
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:18 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
Yambu,
Yes, you are right. That is exactly the origin I've seen given for the corruption "cock a snook." Regarding its usage, I think I've seen it in the drawing rooms of the Brontes. Smile

Re the father and his schemes, I'm inclined to be less harsh. I've known people I wouldn't call particularly selfish but who will let their hopes and dreams get ahead of realistic estimates of feasibility. Actually, I thought Sedaris was being a little too simple, and a little too judgemental, in pinning the dissolution of his parents' marriage specifically on only that character trait of his father. It makes for a clean story, and allows him to indulge his feelings, but I lean toward life usually having greater complexity than that.

Charles
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yambu
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:48 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 23 May 2004 Posts: 6441 Location: SF Bay Area
......I've known people I wouldn't call particularly selfish but who will let their hopes and dreams get ahead of realistic estimates of feasibility.....

Yeah, you're closer to it. In Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes the alcoholic father was such a man. Though he loved his kids and showered them with affection, especially when drunk, the effect of his pipe dreams on them was devastating.

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pedersencr
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:01 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 921 Location: New Orleans
Yambu,
What effect the parents' divorce will have on the children seems always to be one of the questions, with no general answers that I have heard. (And the parents always get divorced anyway!) However, the example you gave from Angela's Ashes and the example of Sedaris's attitude toward his father (anger as I read it) sound like two pretty convincing examples of how devastating the parents' (mis)behavior can be on the children.
Charles
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yambu
Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:43 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 23 May 2004 Posts: 6441 Location: SF Bay Area
Your kids miss nothing. Big or small, they observe 100% of everything you say or do, and what you don't say or do. It's in the biology. They must learn how to survive, and you're the source. This is how child beating is passed down. This is how nurturing love is passed down, too.
I'm at the tail end of a law career in mostly divorce work. I still weep over the children from cases now thirty years old. Their parents generally leave me dry-eyed. But that's for another forum.

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mitty
Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:21 am Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1359 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
pedersencr wrote:
Yambu,
What effect the parents' divorce will have on the children seems always to be one of the questions, with no general answers that I have heard. (And the parents always get divorced anyway!) However, the example you gave from Angela's Ashes and the example of Sedaris's attitude toward his father (anger as I read it) sound like two pretty convincing examples of how devastating the parents' (mis)behavior can be on the children.
Charles


I'd say thats 'cause they should not have married in the first place. But when some are young and "in love" the question of real future problems does not enter into the equation. As long as they can enjoy themselves anything goes. Sexual compatibility is not the only component of a marriage. And yes, its the children that suffer and pass along that suffering to their children and down the line in the form of neurosis, abuse etc.
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sioux
Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:22 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 802 Location: philly burbs
I'm reading a different book I think. Where is Sedaris's genuine anger towards his father? I want to comment especially on the chapter where his dad throws him out. His dad couldn't talk honestly in that moment and so...the moment didn't happen. Sedaris talks about his dad in reallly non-angry ways, which really surprises me. But I get it. His dad rejected him in the moment. Obviously his dad found room in his life for David anyway. His family was already soo wacky, so adjustments could be made.
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