Wednesday, August 3, 2011

you do not do

When I was an undergraduate, I took a course called The Composition of Comedy taught by Garrison Keillor, graduate of the University of Minnesota himself.  My husband has slowly tapered off in his bragging that Keillor read aloud a piece of mine I wrote, a beer-keg parody of Adam and Eve, complete with illicit backseat romping and a cop's glass eye.  My first assignment for the prairie home compatriot was, however, incredibly unsuccessful.  I wrote a parody of "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath, which was returned by his co-teacher, Shannon Olson, proclaiming it "not funny" to riff on the Holocaust.  I bristled at her lack of recognition at this poetic great, but, of course, it wasn't funny, not one iota, and my snobbishness meakly turned to what is supposed to be funny about college.  Keg stands.  And the like.  I left the class knowing I couldn't "do" funny, which was fine by me, but I was humbled, which was what was important.  Funny is hard.  I hadn't realized that before and now I can fully appreciate it.  And when I snort at dooce, I can do it with academic admiration as well as a deep-seated I know how that feels.

Our little family took its first plane ride across the country to attend my aunt's wedding.  Oh my, I haven't felt so moved by a wedding, perhaps ever, and my wobbly tears were triggered by my aunt who gave her wife that look before they walked down the aisle, the one that says I love you and everything we've been through and everything we're going to go through and here we go, partner and love of my life, let's get married.  I've never known my aunt to give that look of deep rooted love before.  It was something special.

Post-wedding, we took a four-beach tour of Cape Cod, and while Nauset was perhaps the last beach I'd write a poem about, unless said poem was about tanned bodies and the repeated surf, I was glad my own daddy prompted us to go.  There was nothing terrible or dark, no ravens, as my husband joked (That was Poe, I told my computer-geek partner, and he said he knew, that wasn't the point, and I appreciated his charming efforts), just an overbearing sunshine and my daughter's protests at the cold ocean water.  She'd later plunk herself into it, our final beach of the trip, and my favorite, Skaket, which was a bit like the Magic School Bus, in that the tide pools boasted live crabs scrabbling away from my slow motion chase and hermit crabs and minnows and all sorts of other creatures desperate to get away from me and my menacing aqua socks.

I can now claim Nauset on my literary map, though it wasn't like visiting the Alcott house or Walden, as I did in my childhood in Massachusetts.  There was no marker, no significant breath of womanly written air.  Just sun beats and the press of sand against pores.

Cape Cod on roots + wings:  day 1, wedding, day 2, day 3, day 4.


Denise | Chez Danisse said...

A parody of Daddy. You are bold. I like the idea of a personal literary map, one based on personal experiences versus something like literary landmarks in a city.

Molly said...

Bold or ridiculous, one of the two! I was snobbish then and thought I would do funny AND heavy literary too.

It's interesting, when one writes so close to the personal, how maps shift.