Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sparkle, Mary Katherine, Sparkle

Thank God for mandatory public education. Without it, my kids would have to be home schooled, and by me, which is a scary thought. My knowledge tends to run very deep in a few frivolous areas, and quite shallow in the ones that count (fractions).

Left to my own devices, I’d educate my kids on stylistic differences in the work of Richard Rodgers when he was working with Hart vs. Hammerstein, but I’d probably leave out stuff that teachers tend to care about. Hey, I’d say, “I Wish I Were in Love Again” is way more fun.

Even though she has been forced to go to a so-called regular school for eight years, I have done my best to provide Mary Katherine, the budding thespian, with a bit of curriculum reinforcement on the stuff that really matters. With this goal, I’ve occasionally held “mandatory movie nights” (usually when Emma, who fears black and white, is not home).

Was I wrong to screen “All About Eve” when she was nine? Too late now, and she does a killer Margo Channing impersonation, complete with fake cigarette and cocktail. Likewise, she’s been forced to watch “Casablanca” (And “Play it Again, Sam” for reference), “Philadelphia Story,” and other lesser films, all with the goal of building up her knowledge of what’s vital to me and arcane at best to people who can add and subtract.

This weekend, I had occasion to wonder if my Classics Curriculum was perhaps a bit limited. My pal Joel came to town, and, browsing at a garage sale the day of his arrival, I found a great fifty-cent treasure – a VHS copy of “Valley of the Dolls.” It’s for happy circumstances such there is still a VCR in the house.

Joel was delighted with his gift and immediately began spouting lines: “The only hit that comes out of a Helen Lawson show is Helen Lawson, and that's ME, baby, remember?” and “They drummed you out of Hollywood, so you come crawling back to Broadway. But Broadway doesn't go for booze and dope.”

Well, then.

We watched the movie together that night, and, while its charms were lost on everyone else, Mary Katherine understood right away. Who needs a classic of script and cinematography when you can have Patty Duke spouting “SPARKLE, Neely, SPARKLE!”

Mary Katherine and Joel reveled in the movie’s badness. She learned the important “so bad it’s good” lesson from our visiting professor, God bless him. Monday morning, dressed in her uniform and heading off to school, she turned back to me with a wicked grin on her face and declared, “I want a doll! I want a doll!”

I can’t wait to see where this lesson shows up on her transcript.

No comments:

Post a Comment