Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Little Less Ceremony

I've probably mentioned it countless times, but I'm a fan of the whimsical. Sometimes "just because" is reason enough to cover something in glitter or to ride a mechanical bull (which I've not managed to actually do yet, but the decision is made-- yes, I'm riding that thing for the full eight seconds). That's how I decided to take Polish and to paint my living room green in one apartment. That's how I came to the conclusion there wasn't anything wrong with rifling through dumpsters for furniture or throwing pebbles at a friend's window, or trying to seduce a boy in a gas station. I mean, why not?
That's not to say I'm all for the out-and-out craziness some people embrace. I'm sorry, you members of the Medieval club, or people who ride unicycles. I might attend a Renaissance fair at some point in my life, particularly if it's connected to a Shakespearean festival, but I'm not going to dress up as a lusty wench. I'm a Disneyland/Disneyworld fanatic, but the only Disney merch in my house is a toaster that burns Mickey's face into the bread. I just think that's plain funny.
Recently, I read about a new-ish counter-culture movement, the Steampunks. Basically, these people are into ideas surrounding a Victorian aesthetic and thinking about how things would be different if we were still using old power methods with our current technologies-- for example, an analog computer. Sounds weird, right? I only stumbled upon it because the picture of my Anthropologie lamp showed up on one of their sites, but I read about it for a whole day. What's more, last night I watched "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"-- the comic it's based on kinda started the whole movement. Super interesting. The movie is old and Netflix reviews were all kind of along the lines of "This is stupid if you think too much about it, but if you don't analyze anything, you'll enjoy it." Not really encouraging, I'd say, but I enjoyed the film. It reminded me of the film "Serenity," though I couldn't tell you why. It appealed to the classic lit nerd in me, for sure, and I was pretty stoked (pardon the pun) for the character of Mina Harker from Dracula to play a big part. Anyway, I don't think you'll ever find me dressed in Victorian garb and goggles or mechanical wings (not because I don't think it would be fun, but because I've not liked Victorians since V. Santa Claus followed me out to my car after Ye Merry Olde Christmas Faire when I was a little girl), but I can appreciate it. That's why I think I'm connecting more with steampunks in the way they dress up the ordinary and mundane tools of today in ornate, even baroque ways. I like anything kinda odd like that.
Of course, in my old age I'm getting a lot less fanciful in certain areas of my life. Remember in Jane Austen's "Emma" how Harriett has to have a big ceremony to burn all the crap she associated with Mr. Collins? I used to have to gather my friends around me for emotional support to take someone out of my phone. This morning when I woke up and saw a certain individual didn't bother to answer a text message, I just erased the number. And then I erased a bunch of others. It just felt like some spring cleaning. No big deal. I told Sokphal that any of those people will be happily welcomed back into my phone if they call, or if I find need to call them. But why the clutter?
I think very little of getting out the good dishes and having a fancy picnic in my living room under a fort made out of blankets by myself or with loved ones, and I like to chase butterflies with a net. But if someone is going to ask me out on a date, a simple phone call is preferred to the creative scavenger hunt where you end up at Jamba Juice where you are supposed to order a smoothie under the name of "Buttercup" and then meet your mystery date for a showing of "The Princess Bride." And that even goes for the preparation I put into dates and activities. I'll spend a good 40 hours preparing a Relief Society lesson, but 20 minutes to throw on some clothes for a date. I mean, I showered, right? I don't look like I've given up on life. But is my date really going to care if I used the exfoliating mask AND the Biore Pore Perfect Nose Strip? Oh, there are those men who still merit that kind of attention, but not every chap nor every date merits a new outfit.
Old-fashioned manners will never go out of style with me, but old-fashioned opinions of what I'm capable of, what I should be doing with my life, and what others deem acceptable are water under the bridge. Ceremony only means something if you have beliefs tied to it, and I don't really believe Miss America is royalty or that an Oscar necessarily means a movie is worth my time. But I do believe in gentility and chivalry and femininity and courtesy and hospitality. And I believe in returning phone calls. And Victorian architecture, so long as modern Santa is the one doing the visiting.


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