Thursday, February 12, 2004

Something to Celebrate

Today is Darwin Day so break out the party hats! Old Charlie was born on this day in 1809. In case you are low on the evolutionary ladder or forgot your schooling, Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, published in 1859. It is arguably one of the most influential works ever written. And it is probably arguable that it is one of the most contested. But no one has been able to prove Darwin wrong (Sorry, I don't count the Bible to be proof of anything) and until they do, I'll continue to cast my vote for evolution. Also born on this day in 1809 was Abraham Lincoln. He was not only a fine president but an outstanding writer as can be proved by the Gettysburg Address, delivered on November 19, 1863. Once upon a time you had to be smart to be president. And the final birthday today goes to a woman who was a huge influence on me during puberty. Born in 1938, Judy Blume helped me feel a little less lonely when the hormones started to do their dirty work. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Blubber, Tiger Eyes (did that one ever make me cry), Deenie (this one made me terrified of getting scoliosis. When the school nurse did a screening of all the girls during gym class in 7th grade I thought for sure I was going to end up like Deenie), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (my little sister was not as bad as Fudge, but oh, how I did relate!), and Then Again, Maybe I Won't (my first inkling that maybe boys didn't have it so easy either). And then, of course, there was Forever. I have a vivid memory of a scene in the book where Kathy and her boyfriend are in the bathroom together and she puts aftershave on his penis. And even though my Mom had no clue what this book was about, I was still afraid to let her see me reading it. She might figure out what I was reading and not let me finish it! Then when I was 15 there was Wifey. This was my Mom's book and she had read it and knew what it was about. My sister and I begged her to let us read it but she refused. But instead of throwing it away or giving it to a friend, she kept it and hid it. Naturally my sister and I found it. There was an argument over who got to read it first. Even though my sister is younger than I am she is still bigger, so she won. It took both of us a long time to read it because the reading had to be done in secret. I found it a little shocking at the time but over all I didn't think it any more explicit than the Harlequin Romances my Mom would leave laying around and through which I would look for the "good parts" when no one was paying attention. After my sister and I were done with Wifey we put it back where we had found it, my Mom none the wiser. I read Summer Sisters when it first came out several years ago. It was an enjoyable book but something was missing. Perhaps it had something to do with me not being a teenager anymore. I didn't have to read the book in secret so that extra edge was lost. No matter. I will always have found memories of growing up with Judy Blume.