NOTE: This conversation runs backwards. For the benefit of regular readers, the newest comments are put at the top.
We are always looking for ways to make our hestia more real, and I thought I would take a break from late-August canning and preserving to pop into Rosie's and tell you all about our recent bit of racinating activity. We are collecting photographs of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great grandparents, all taken from before the Eclipse. We have found up-to-date frames for these beautiful pictures and have hung them on a wall in one of our hallways. Now we are taking black and white photographs of our own family and adding these to the hallway gallery, as a visual portrayal of an unbroken heritage and a continuing tradition of uprightness and dignity. Passing by these photographs each day reminds us to live up to the standards of our ancestors.
Yes, thank you Rosie, I will try a piece of that peach pie. It looks quite delicious. And how was the wedding?
The wedding was very traditional and quite delightful, and today it's
peach pie for my patrons because all of our Friends and Relations at the
wedding agreed that peach was the best of the new recipes (the secret is
in the sour cream). Thanks for the racinating tip, Amy. Have any of our
other patrons or patronettes additional suggestions for making the hestia
a more real and racinated
Despite our best efforts to keep the Pit from our children, sometimes the ugly images are unavoidable and the little psyches we've been entrusted with become poisoned by the inverted world that surrounds us. What to do then?
Well, our preschooler recently saw just a few minutes of a bongo children's program when we were visiting an acquaintance the other day, and the image it left in his head frightened him as he was falling asleep last night. He said it was the ugliness of a certain character that scared him, and I told him to think of St. George on his white horse coming to conquer and defeat the ugly creature, who, from all I could gather before turning off the one-eyed monster, was portrayed as a "bad guy with good qualities" (though the "good guy with some bad guy flaws" was nearly as ugly). Within minutes, St. George had saved the day and killed the poisonous Pit dragon.
I was thankful that I had recently read an essay written by C.S. Lewis suggesting that stories such as "St. George and the Dragon" are good for the developing psyches of even young children, because the archetypal battle between good and evil presented in such stories offers a youngster the means of conquering night fears knowing that a noble hero is by his side. I was equally thankful that, just days before, we had looked at several reproductions of nineteenth-century paintings of St. George and the Dragon, and had spent the day acting out this wonderful story over and over again. One never knows when such fun play can come into good use later!
"Allo, Aristasian Aeroflyers Association? This is Frances Minerva, I was blown off course by a storm and have crashed somewhere in the boondocks.... Let's see, yes, the sign says Rosie's Diner ... yes, I am perfectly capable of changing my own rudder-gyres, do you think I'm a blonde or something? ... However, I was on my way to a ball at the Aphrodite, I'm here in my best evening gown and highest heels and tiara .... Thank you, I'll wait here. Goodbye."
(Now, I guess I'd better get in out of the rain, whatever sort of place this is ... Well, nice and warm in here ... Tho the music certainly isn't up to Trentish standards ... What odd pets people have here, some sort of bald gorillas it seems. However do they train them to sit up at the tables? )
"Good evening. I'll have ... um, just a plain cup of coffee, please, I'm flying. Thank you..."
(Why, there's Ariadne, my favorite blonde-friend from the Aphrodite! I think I'll just tiptoe up behind her, and then sweep her off her feet for a big kiss right in front of everybody, like old times.... )
What a sweet little peck on the cheek for fluffy Ariadne, which is, of course, the Romantian and Aristasian equivalent of "a big kiss," being the very modest creatures we are. You are indeed welcome here, Miss Minerva, as are all the pettes from Aristasia. We hear that getting used to having men about the place poses a bit of a difficulty for some of your set, but please don't be afraid of our men. Being the chivalric, upstanding, decent, protective gentlemen they are makes them quite a cut above the gorillas one might meet posing as men in the Pit. Our men do know how to sit upright all on their own, as well as how to pour the wine, light a cigarette, and guide a girl through a doorway with a strong hand on the small of a back. Besides, without men around, who ever would tinker with and fix our up-to-date appliances and motor cars? We find them very romantic and very useful!
And speaking of men, we had the good fortune while we were away of seeing
John Wayne in a wonderful movie called The Quiet Man. I know
how the Aristasian crowd loves anything to do with, um, feminine clothing,
so you and your sorority should see this movie, which features Miss
Maureen O'Hara, who at one point doffs her stockings to run through a
creek, then holds them in her hands as the rain falls and falls, until
they are soaked through. The pure electricity and frisson
contained in the kiss between Mr. Wayne and Miss O'Hara during the
stockings and rain scene conveys a hundred times the wattage any fleshy
Pit movie could ever hope to achieve.
Well, now that all the blondes have stopped talking so much, I thought I'd add my comments on the idea of archetypes. I especially intend my words for those young mothers, such as Amy, who struggle to keep their hearts and hearths pure.
For Aristasians and Romantians, the home is the Hestia, the sacred place. It is far more than just a building where related people happen to live. It conveys a unifying quality -- the Hestia is a place where nothing ugly, vulgar, or chaotic should be allowed. This does not mean you are a failure if the children's toys are all over the living room!
When I say 'chaotic' I mean the chaos that the Pit worships. If you look around you in the Pit, you see what Alice Lucy Trent at the Aristasian Embassy has described as a massive inversion -- goodness, beauty and order, once revered and always sought after, are rejected in favor of ugliness and chaos. Ugliness and chaos have always been with mankind, but never before in history have they been revered by so many people -- that is the Pit, and your Hestia, the place where your children spend most of their time, cannot be a part it.
I hope to speak to you all again soon about the nature of the Hestia, but I'm afraid now I must dash, as a patronette seems to be eating an ice-cream sundae while reading one of the diner's magazines, and we can't have that, can we?
MISS AMANDA FEATHERINGTON
District Librarian, Culveria
NOTICE: Rosie's Diner will be closed until Tuesday so that Rosie &
co. can take a long weekend to attend a family wedding. Rosie will be
testing out some new pie recipes on her extended family, so come back
next week for slices of the pies everyone votes are the best ones to
serve at the Diner!
I used to go to embassy parties every so often. I went to one at the soviet embassy once in washington dc back when the ambassador was a jolly gentleman named Mr. Anatoly Dobrynin and the ussr was still there.
Anatoly once let me in on the secret that he was really a famous soviet fighter pilot during much of the war but then his boss in moscow (which was the capital of the ussr at that time, you know) told him he would make a much better ambassador than a pilot of planes so they turned him into one, an ambassador I mean, so he went to ambassador school for a while to learn how to hold embassy parties and then they sent him to washington dc, where he held them a lot and laughed whenever he told that story to blondes, which was probably most of the time, so he wouldnt have to fly fighter planes anymore which he did not really care to do because according to Anatoly a fellow gets shot at quite frequently if they are a fighter pilot so he enjoyed being an ambassador much better than flying a plane.
Anyway that was the story he always told blondes and it was really tray tray drole because Anatoly was quite large, even massive you see and would have had some trouble fitting into a fighter size aircraft which are quite frequently not very roomy, you know. Eau contrare, they are not spacious at all. I know, because an air force kernel once took me for a ride in one after a pentagon party but it is not very exciting because you have get in the back seat and sit under a helmet like the ones in the beauty shop only smaller and it ruined my hairdo and both my stockings got runs. And the radio in the dashboard doesnt play any music but just a lot of silly talking about someone named Roger which you have to listen to in your helmet all the time. Well perhaps soviet fighter planes are somewhat bigger so although it was possible Anatoly could have fit into one it did not seem very likely so I never really believed most of Anatoly's stories for that reason.
But dont get me confused, I was talking about embassy parties! So one december evening we went to an embassy party at the soviet embassy because there were some very important soviet goverment people visiting there from moscow and they desired us to meet them.
So at that time I was a receptionist at the cia across the river in langley virginia and my boss, who always told the soviets he was the curator of the russian collection at the national gallery, liked to take me to parties and always desired me to wear a rather low-cut cocktail dress of which I had several just for embassy parties. So I decided to wear my silver one which since dresses were quite short at that moment and as my legs are quite long (and rather shapely I could add but wont out of modesty) the dresses quite frequently left a lot of leg showing too and since it was winter and I would be wearing a long coat, it created a rather nice affect in the room when my coat was removed which my boss always did so at the most opportune moment so as to attract some attention which was quite frequently enjoyable on my behalf at least if not on that of others.
Well the soviet embassy in washington dc was on k street just a couple of blocks down from the white house, but it used to belong to Mr. George Pullman that invented the special cars on the railroads that only negroes can work in, but when you went inside and walked up the grand staircase instead of a giant portrait of Mr. George Pullman there was a giant portrait of Mr. Lenin that invented the ussr but forgot his first name, which would probably make Mr. George Pullman very upset, that they took down his portrait and put up Mr. Lenins, I mean, but because he was dead he couldnt, but so was Mr. Lenin.
Mr. Lenin appeared to have had something wrong with his neck because in all of his pictures, of which there were lots in the embassy, even on napkins and glasses and ashtrays, it showed him looking off in the exact same direction, up and to the right, with a meaningful look on his face like he just had a very important meeting with god so now he knows all of the answers, I mean god does, not Mr. Lenin, since from his expression it was quite clear Mr. Lenin knew them already.
But Anatoly's party was the first time I was ever on television, almost twenty-four of them to be exact, because they had a little room off the grand foyee that used to be the cloak room (a cloak is a coat with no sleeves that nobody wears any more but all the rooms are still there) but now it was filled with twenty-four little televisions, but nothing was on them besides all of the embassys windows and doors and the stairways and you could even see little cars whizzing back and forth on k street outside.
So we went up the grand staircase and admired the rather large portrait of Mr. Lenin and hoped his neck would improve, and some rather thick gentlemen took our coats and looked us over quite closely. At the top of the staircase there was a grand ballroom with a parkay floor where Mr. George Pullman probably held some very grand balls, but since the soviet union at that point in time didnt believe in grand balls and had removed Mr. George Pullmans portrait besides and had replaced it with Mr. Lenins who it was quite clear from his expression strongly disapproved of dancing, now they just held embassy parties in it so Anatoly could tell his very amusing stories about when he was a fighter pilot of planes but then they turned him into an ambassador.
So there was a very long table on one side of the room covered with quite a large selection of soviet hore derves but right in the middle was an ice sculpture of Mr. Lenin with the same neck disorder but surrounded by iced silver dishes heaped with red and gray caviar (which is fish eggs from surgeons) and bottles of vodka (thats pale white wine made from potatoes) and rows and rows of glasses with Mr. Lenin on them to pour it into.
So there were also some rather thick ladies dressed up in black waitress suits with frilly little white aprons which somebody warned us were the wives of the rather thick gentlemen which already had taken our coats and we should not say anything to them besides I would simply adore some more caviar, Thank you, because they were all kgb and carried special thin little tape recorders built into their serving trays but they were cunningly trained to serve vodka and caviar so that we wouldnt suspect them and would consider them to be only butlers and waitresses.
So in case us receptionists said anything at all we were instructed to say it in code, such as, "Gladys has got a headache to-night but it is still quite foggy outside," so they, all the kgb butlers and waitresses I mean, would have to stay up all night working on figuring out just what we really said, which meant they couldn't send anything else secret back to moscow while they were still working on figuring out just what it was we had said. So we could still be quite patriotic and eat up all that red and grey soviet caviar, which is always really rather delicious despite it being soviet, especially the grey. So us receptionists all developed simultaneous headaches and talked about the weather a lot. So by now everyone else had arrived including some quite famous senators and congressmen and even some cabinet secretaries and judges and their receptionists, so Anatoly could start telling his exciting pilot stories again, so he did, so everyone laughed again and drank vodka although most of the famous senators and congressmen and even a few of their receptionists seemed to have had some vodka or something else earlier.
Now the soviets and also their close neighbors the russians are quite fond of vodka, you know, but they dont think it works unless the glasses are bigger than beer steins, and quite a number of toasts were proposed, so by the time they were drinking to the outer republics quite a few guests and even a couple of russians and soviets had to sit down. Even if there wasn't a chair.
Drinking vodka from glasses as big as beer steins sooner or later makes you want to sit down eventually, you see, but a few people seemed to prefer reclining under one of the tables so that they could rest and not have to drink any more toasts at that moment since soviet etikette decrees that if you are reclining under a table you are not obliged to drink any more toasts but if you are still standing or sitting you have to or you might be thought impolite.
It is sometimes rather hard to sort out all the different national etikettes because at the romanian embassy for instants a person can still drink toasts if they are under a table, but its only fair to say that at most embassies, even the soviet and romanian, ladies are not expected to keep up with the minor toasts but can continue eating hore derves if they want to, of which at the soviet embassy caviar I always recommend the grey caviar and to avoid the stuffed mushrooms which can give a girl gas. (I even got a rash once from a stuffed mushroom.)
So at last we ate up all of the caviar and the ice bust of Mr. Lenin was almost all melted so his neck appeared to have gotten quite a bit better. So the rather thick gentlemen fetched us our coats and we all went on television again as we walked outside onto k street and caught us a cab.
Thank you for the lovely poem from Arcadia and especially for the blessing. Here's another. Poem I mean (though I suppose there is a blessing in it as well). This is from William Wordsworth's poem "She Was a Phantom of Delight."
...A perfect woman, nobly planned
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel-light.
Does anyone else have little motherly verses from Arcadia to share? Or, if not from Arcadia, then perhaps from any of the more westernly provinces? I've often noticed how our up-to-date music, especially from Trent and Quirinelle, is filled with a kind of poetry devoted to all I find particularly delightful: motherhood, the home, the family, little children, etc.
Lots of Love from me,
Here is another poem from Arcadia for
you, all about your vocation.
It's from Miss Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, which, having
recently been published, is all the rage at the best dinner parties
and garden gatherings in Western Arcadia these days.
The way to rear up children (to be just),
They know a simple, merry tender knack
of tying sashes, fitting baby-shoes,
And stringing pretty words that make no sense,
And kissing full sense into empty words.
Which things are corals to cut life upon,
Although such trifles; children learn by such.
Bless you, Amy, in your life as mother and homemaker. And God Bless all of the loving mothers who visit the diner in between chasing after toddlers, nursing babies, teaching older children, and, for those who aren't quite official mothers yet, feathering nests in preparation for the wee ones soon to come!
Friends, listen to this! I am too blonde to have a checking account! I kept meaning to deposit a check and kept forgetting, until finally I bounced one and they closed my account (I was on probation for that little forgetful incident while I was abroad, years ago. They aren't very forgiving...) The bad news is, on my way to the bank to finally make the deposit (too late), I had just mailed a bunch of bills. Oops. Sigh. I think they should make a teeny exception once in a while, but you know how those brunette bankers are.
Lots of love,
For our friends who may be confused, the lovely Mary, though a
chappy girl herself, is a frequent visitor to Aristasia, the all-feminine
universe where the two sexes are Blonde and Brunette rather than Male and
Female. But, poor Mary really is having these troubles and really
does need a bookkeeping sort of chap to happen along and rescue her from this
financial dragon's lair!
Oh Deborah, I did so love the snippet from the Arcadian magazine you passed around
here at Rosie's yesterday. I especially adored the idea of our homes
being heaven's antechambers. Arcadians seem to understand Motherhood
better than any of us, don't you think? To wit, here is a verse from an
Arcadian poem I've recently read:
Love's holy earnest in pretty play
And get not over early solemnized,
But seeing, as in a rosebush, Love's Divine
Which burns and hurts not, -not a single bloom,-
Become aware and unafraid of Love.
Such good do mothers do.
With Good Tidings to All,
We are very lucky in my home to have recently acquired through the Iron Curtain a subscription to an Arcadian magazine, and as I was reading
this month's issue, I came upon the most wonderful passage that I knew
Amy and any other mothers who frequent the Diner would adore. Here it
is, direct from Western Arcadia:
A woman who sets forth in married life determined to make a real
wife and mother has chosen the most wonderful and fascinating
career it is posssible for her to pursue; and its scope is as
wide as the universe. To create such a home and magnetize it with
the love and enjoyment of a good woman's mind is to prepare an
anteroom for heaven.
Isn't that wonderful? I knew all of you delightful Diner folks would love it. Perhaps Miss Barbara or Alice might have something to say about the Archetypes and the Order of the Cosmos implicit in this passage?
I have to confess that yesterday I went to some thrift stores and I was inspired to splurge and buy some beautiful china cups, saucers and small plates. This morning I had my usual toast and coffee, but instead of a big mug and heavy stoneware plate, I got to eat from a pretty white china with thin silver lines, the faintest robin's egg blue border and some tiny flowers in the center. I really think this has changed my whole day, or at least my morning. And all for $1.50 per set! I also splurged on some hats, gloves, and girlish skirts, but I probably would have done that anyway.
Thank you for telling us about this wonderful find. It
is amazing how little ways of racinating our homes can bring such
delight into our lives. One of our friends likes to comment how all
those sillies living in the Pit drink their
coffee from ugly clunky mugs simply because the Pit tells them to.
You've proven how easy it is to do otherwise, lovely Mary, and what a
difference it makes when one creates a more civilized life!
Amy's recent contribber caused me to reflect on how important uniforms are in our world. In Romantia, everyone wears a uniform of one kind or another, thus practically announcing the fact that, for us, function is more important than individuality. The men who pump our gasoline for us at filling stations wear bow ties and shirts with their company's insignia on the breast pocket, the boys who bag our groceries also wear bow ties as well as white aprons (so they don't get their shirts untidy when delivering groceries or helping out the grocer in messy ways), our nurses wear crisp white uniforms with white caps, our mothers are always in dresses and aprons, our nuns wear habits, our milkmen wear white uniforms, and so on.
Of course, the uniform that counts the most is the one a soldier wears, and, as we all know (especially those of us from Kadoria), a girl really goes for a fella in a uniform. And why is it that in the free world, girls swoon over a man in a uniform? Because they understand that a man given over to fulfilling his function, to the self-sacrifice possibly involved when one dons the uniform, is a man worthy of all the swoon girls can give him! The ability to sacrifice selfish desires and individualistic identities for the greater good of one's country or family or home is perhaps the most important attribute that separates us from the beasts (which is, of course, the reason why in the inverted world of the Pit, selfishness and individuality are encouraged while patriotism and the virtues of the home are either ignored or detested).
But enough, as Amy says. I would love to have a Coke with two straws, please. I am hoping to meet a friend here in a minute or two. By the way, here's a picture of me from my trip to the Aristasian Embassy two years ago.
La and Blimey, its Miss Trent from who I have not heard much less seen in simply ages! I have looked for you in the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar as well as in other jernts for months-and-months but without any avail. I am so glad you have been able to visit Rosies Diner for I thought you had become lost or had taken to travelling in cognito. I am extra glad that you have seen fit to make your entrance in a matter of languadge.
You see I save up all my grammer questions until I happen across an expert, then I ask her. Like they say (I am singing this bit so its quite all right) she who hesitates gathers no moss so I will pop my grammer questions toot sweet.
The first question is about Standard Incorrect English - are you just pulling our leg or is there really such a thing? It seems to me that there is only one way to be correct in a languadge and many ways to be incorrect so how can incorrectness ever be standard?
And while you are at it perhaps you can help settle a long standing argument I have been having recently with a girlfriend of mine over orthogrify (which is just a fancy way of saying spelling), so this is my second question: which is the correct saying:
"Ax me no questions and Ill tell you no lies,"
"Axe me no questions and Ill tell you no lies."?
I have put my money on the former construction but Ethel (thats my girlfriend) says that I am an ignorant no body if I think that is correct English and that the "e" is silent, but if that is so one should simply leave it out, I say, and save ones breath. As I would like to settle Ethels hash in this matter I hope I am right and she is wrong. I have a Burger Deluxe riding on it.
And while we are all showing pictures of one another Amy just asked me specifickly for a rather intimmit one of me drawing on my stockings so this might be as good a time as any to show people. The hat is one that Amy found Fleeming and sent to me along with another item that does not show too well in the photo, that is, a six-suspender girdle and if it did show it could probably not be published. As it is if I were any one else besides who I am I would probably blush excessively to have such a picture of me shown to any one much less thousands if not even more but I am used to appearing in public by now because of my job which is introducing numbers at the Hollywood Palladium. But La! You can read all about that in the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar Archives.
Thank you, Ariadne, for your questions. One blonde friend we asked was sure that the correct spelling must be ax, without the e, as the word was simply the singular of the plural axen, and everyone knows that the singular form of oxen is ox and not oxe. Anyone who wants to see our favorite Hollywood starlet putting on her stockings can do so by opening this magic door. We know that the gentlemen among us would never do anything so ungallant as to peek, and we wanted to give them a way to be chivalrous and yet permit the rest of us a naughty little look.
Yes, seeing Alice at Rosie's is such a joy! We think
of her as a little Sprite, a Tinkerbell, a kind little Fairy, who always
is a delight to see, even though one never expects to see the
little darling. Then when she alights for a mome, how the place does light
I think I may have been a bit unclear last time I was here. Miss Henderson is entirely right of course. "Like a river flows" is entirely idiomatic (though ungrammatical) English. I didn't mean that the phrase itself was unidiomatic. It can be and is used in the normal way as a simile following the thing it describes. This is Standard Incorrect English.
It is really the reversal of subject and simile that does not take place in ordinary speech. We find it in Homer and in the Psalms and throughout our literary tradition, but not in modern speech which (sadly perhaps) is quite careful to avoid forms that sound too "poetic."
"My money disappear like water goes down the plughole" is perfectly idomatic. "Like water goes down the plughole, so does my money disappear" is not. Neither, come to that, is the correct "as" form. But the "like" form is particularly odd, because it takes a literary form and grafts onto it an out-of-place error which belongs purely to un-literary speech.
By the way, talking of popular music, we saw the Quirrie film Shake, Rattle and Roll last night and had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Fats Domino with his band as well as lots of jiving cats and chicks. We want to learn to jive so we can do it at Sweethearts which now is able to permit dancing.
Love to all,
ALICE LUCY TRENT
Remember the other day when we told you that Alice wasn't all stuffy head-learning? Well, here's a picture to prove it. Though scholarly and brilliant, Alice is also a great trend setter when it comes to the fashions of Aristasia. Will such delicious frivolity catch on here, with the pencil and poodle skirt crowd? We can only hope so!
This picture gives me what I hope you will think is a Swell Idea. I would
like to place photographs of all of the Romantians who frequent my place
in a photograph album I keep here at the diner. If you have any pictures
of yourselves in your most up-to-date
look, would you please pop them over
to me and I will put them in my album and share them with the others? I
think newcomers who might think we are playing a game would like to
see that we really do live, dress, and deport ourselves in a manner
utterly unlike what they are accustomed to in the
I just read the definition for Archetype in the Romantian Glossary and I am struck by the fact that it describes exactly how I live my life. Every morning I wake up with the perfected form of Woman, Housewife, and Mother in my heart, and every morning I decide to dress, act, speak, and live in a manner that comes as close to those perfected forms as possible. Of course, I fall short of perfection every day, and the discrepancy between my life and the Archetypes I live by keeps me humble before God. This humility is good for my soul, I believe, and I always try to dwell upon the perfect Goodness represented by the Archetypes rather than on my own shortcomings.
How do I strive to live guided by the Archetypes? Well, each morning I get out of bed, clean myself up, don my dress, stockings, and apron, fix my hair and put on my makeup, then do my morning chores, just as my mother did before me, my grandmother before her, hers before her, etc. Being linked in this way, to the tradition of womanhood and motherhood and to the Archetypes of Woman and Mother, gives me such immense happiness! If only all those mothers down in the Pit who are forever thinking about "taking time for themselves" or making sure that, above all, they are happy could know that the only true happiness comes from abandoning one's own silly selfish individuality and yielding completely to one's function. Then, the sweet joy that can fill a soul! Well, I don't need to tell you all about it, I can see that each of you is given over completely to function, to being, in turn, Librarian (Hello, Miss Featherington, over there in the corner!), Doctor, Scholar (Hello, Alice!), Father, Handy Man (Good afternoon, Hank!), Gentleman, Fluffy Blonde Beauty (Hello, Mary!), Maid, Youth, Bride, Priest, Nun, etc. This is Romantia, after all, isn't it! At least we understand the vitality that comes to a civilization when each member cares more about building a home (be it a home for a single family or the home one finds in a neighborhood, church, or whole civilization) than about expressing an individuality that is somehow separate from that home.
But enough! Darling waitress, you've stood here, in your adorable red and white checked uniform, with your pad flipped open and pen poised while I've rambled on and on for the longest time. Please forgive me! I'll have a vanilla Coke and an order of onion rings. Would you tell Rosie I like them extra crisp?
Miss Alice Lucy Trent is so erudite! And I will certainly remember that very useful concept, Standard Incorrect English.
But I must say that "like a river flows" would be perfectly acceptable Standard Incorrect English in my neck of the woods (Well, it is a red neck of those woods - oops, sorry about the bad pun.) Just the other day I heard my cousin Bob use exactly that expression, in fact. We were talking about Rosie's Diner, and he said he would be coming by here more often now that the word is out about the great milkshakes and hamburgers you can get here, because, and I quote, "all the girls will be flocking to Rosie's, like the River flows to the ocean." That seems to me to be pretty much the same construction as the hart panting for the brook (except of course in this case it's the does panting for milkshakes).
Bob does have a way with words. Our grandma was trying to find out if he was interested in any of the girls around here, and she was asking really obvious questions, you know how they do. And one of her questions was, "What do you think of those Portuguese girls? Some people say they're mighty pretty."
And Bob answered, "Well, I guess it depends on who's looking at them." Now isn't that just the most down-to-earth paraphrase of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?
Hello Rose! Do ask Bob to stop by soon and sample our food. And
thanks for coming in yourself. We don't seem to have many male patrons as
of yet, but with pretty girls like yourself freqenting our place, the men
are sure to follow!
Hello, Rosie. What a very lovely place you have here. I think I would like a chocolate milkshake, please. Thank you, that looks good.
Well, it's nice to see so many people in the place, and all of those cars parked outside look so cheerful and welcoming, especially the ones with lots of chrome. Mmm, Rosie, [leans over confidentially] do you know the name of that chap in the corner? He looks nice. The strong silent type, you say? Always in here but never speaks to any one? Well, I think that I might take that as a personal challenge. I'll sit over here in the opposite corner and smile at him. Perhaps he's shy. I don't see why men shouldn't be shy, really, it isn't only a girl's pregrogative like being late for a date, is it?
Chattering (as I was a while ago) about "as" and "like" in popular songs, a very curious example struck me the other day. In the song I Can't Help Falling in Love with You we find the verse:
Like a river flows
Surely to the sea,
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be.
Now isn't that a curious phrase, like a river flows? I don't believe any one ever uses that form in such a way. It seems that the writer of the song habitually uses correct English, and having thought of the lines "As a river flows/Surely to the sea" decided that this was too formal for a popular song and changed it to like, which, in this context is quite unidiomatic. A writer, one might say, who is so used to correct English that he cannot speak correct incorrect English!
No uneducated speaker would ever say "Like a river flows surely to the sea". But what would he say? Would he say "As a river flows surely to the sea"? I think the answer is that nobody, educated or uneducated, would use this sort of construction in ordinary speech. It is, and has been for a long time, a purely literary form. It recalls, for example:
"As the hart panteth after the stream so does my soul yearn for the Lord" (that is not quite accurate as my Bible is not by me, but you know the one I mean).
No one would ever say in the course of conversation "As the swallow flies south in Autumn, so did my car speed down the highway."
But in the unlikely event that any one did say that, it would be a conscious reference to literary form, and therefore even a speaker who would be guilty of saying "it flows like a river does" would say "as" rather that the curiously unidiomatic "like." And this would not be particularly because he was trying to be correct or faithful to the literary model, but because there is no precedent for this use of "like" in what might be called Standard Incorrect English.
This last point raises another matter of interest, demonstrating the fact that, contrary to what many people might be inclined to assume, incorrect English is not in the least innovative or "free-form." It is quite strictly controlled by precedent. Children sometimes use innovative idioms when they are striving to express concepts for which they as individuals have no linguistic precedents, but long before they reach adolescence children have learned to speak either Standard English or the Standard Incorrect English of their particular social group. Adults who use innovative idioms are usually educated writers (more rarely speakers) who know the language well enough to be able to manipulate it.
With affection to all,
ALICE LUCY TRENT
Thank you, Darling, for that very interesting tidbit. We had never
thought of it, even though we've listened to that particular favorite so
many times. For those of you who don't know dear Alice, please don't
think her all erudition and grammatical school mistressliness when it
comes to up-to-date ditties. She can
be as jinky as any pippsie when she
sits at the soda fountain with her friends listening to our music! But
isn't it nice to know that at one table here in the Diner, a smart girl
like Alice can pop in from Aristasia and talk about the
grammar of song lyrics, and at another table, like that one over there with
Hank and the fellas, engine repair on the beautiful cars of Quirinelle can
be the talk of the day? Of course, we in Romantia would be the last
ones to applaud any silly notions of bongo
"diversity," but we do pride
ourselves on how in the real world, each
of us contributes according to
his essential nature, thus creating the honest variety that exists within
all true civilizations.
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