How I Want To Grow Old

Filed under: @ 5:01 pm

On a recent trip to Olympia I stopped in at Orca Books, probably the best non-chain used bookstore in the greater Puget Sound area.

I can’t remember how many books I bought, I just wandered and grabbed. And in the process picked up two new (to me) books by one of my favorite authors.
Florence King first caught my eye with her autobiographical “Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady”. I found the book to be quite wonderful. Miss King’s story is compelling, her style of writing a joy to read, and her wit (“No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street.”) is at once biting and enchanting in its brutal honesty.

Note that I refer to her as “Miss” not “Ms.”. A self described old maid, I suspect that this is the prefix she would prefer.

Regardless I’ve been reading “Reflections in a Jaundiced Eye” which is a collection of essays published in, oh dear, 1989. Okay, so I’m a bit behind the times.

Reading Florence King is rather like being in an intense discussion with a person absolutely passionate about their point of view. It’s like arguing with a zealot. So long as you agree with their point of view the discussion can be fascinating, stimulating, educational. If you don’t agree with their point of view you should prepare to be thoroughly offended. That’s part of what I love about Miss King’s writing. She is unapologetically the original feminist. Not PC, not New Age, and certainly not the Earth Mother brand of feminist. Independent doesn’t even come close. Having grown up in the ’40s and ’50s with a family dominated by viragos in the most classic sense of the word, this woman is firmly of the belief that there is nothing that women shouldn’t be able to do if we’d just pull our heads out of our asses.

What Molly Ivins was to political diatribe, Florence King is to social diatribe. Railing on and about women who have no identity of their own except by how they are defined by their families is one of her best subjects.
In a chapter titled “Does Your Child Taste Salty” the discussion turns to the state of the world in relationship to how it seems impossible in the modern day to get through life without the interference of some group or another bent on helping you. People trusting in organizations, including the government, that tell them how to improve themselves, how to raise their children, how to interact with their families, and how to care for their aging parents. Now granted I find that I disagree with some of Miss King’s points in this particular chapter, but one paragraph struck me in particular.

“At fifty-two I have no need for the ministrations of the Menopause Seminar because I am not afraid of getting old. Living with Granny taught me that aging does not make women powerless objects of pity but colorful and entertaining individuals and, on occasion, fire breathing dragons that wise people don’t cross.”

God grant me the grace to grow into a colorful, entertaining individual with tendencies towards being a fire breathing dragon. A noble definition if I’ve ever heard one.

Late Breaking Edit:
No, I’m not sure why the chapter is titled “Does Your Child Taste Salty”. I haven’t finished that particular chapter though and the answer may be forthcoming.

2 Responses to “How I Want To Grow Old”

  1. Uncle Andrew Says:

    My Dear, you are already a colorful, entertaining individual. As for the dragon bit….um, as the Fair Maiden(!) in this particular fairy tale, might I just say that, when your ire arises, I have always seen you more as a lioness with a thorn in her paw. Not (I hasten to add) a lion, as in the fable. Only a guy would whine that loudly about a sliver. 😀

  2. Dalek Says:

    “God grant me the grace to grow into a colorful, entertaining individual with tendencies towards being a fire breathing dragon.”

    I concur – that sounds like an eminently worthy goal. :mrgreen: And as Roo says, you’ve already got the colorful, entertaining, and individual aspects down pat.

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