Sunday, February 03, 2008

Do You Remember This? by Anthony McCarthy

You never know where a conversation about going to the dump can take you. A couple of weeks ago, listening to two of my sisters going through a stack of paperbacks to be swapped, one of them said something about bringing the remainders to Good Will. That led to the “swap shop” at their town’s dump and that led to me. I’m known as having no qualms about throwing books into the recycling bin. That’s a habit I got into from when I worked in the library. There are an infinite supply of donated books no one is going to read, ever again. Books of the Month from early in the last century, Condensed Books, best sellers like The Greening of America... It was one of my jobs to rip the covers off of those before they were sent to recycling, a job no one else had the heart to do.

But, to the point of this. One of my sisters said the only book she’d ever thrown away was given to her by her demented ex-sister-in-law. The Total Woman, it was called. It took a while to remember the author who was all over talk TV in the 70s, then it came to us. Maribele Morgan. Here is how Time magazine described her in 1977.

a small (5 ft. 5╜ in.), slender (124 Ibs.) Miami housewife who believes passionately in the virtues of middle-class monogamy. Now 39, she came from a poor family in Mansfield, Ohio ("I grew up on peanut butter sandwiches"), and worked as a beautician to send herself to Ohio State University. There she became May Queen, having previously been Miss Mansfield and Miss Talent and Congeniality. She is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. She is inventively kind to her husband Charles, a shy, bespectacled attorney who acts as a lawyer for several of the Miami Dolphins football players. She dotes on her daughters, Laura, 11, and Michelle, 7, but firmly makes them wash the dishes and sort the laundry. She greets the world with a straightforward look and a friendly smile that viewers have been enjoying lately on TV talk shows.

Makes you want to eurp. I remember her more the way the article starts:

"Hogwash and bullshit," says New York Psychiatrist Judianne Densen-Gerber, J.D., M.D., who has, along with her two degrees, her career and her four children, some very definite opinions about a woman who would subscribe to those lines at the end of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.

"Sick," says Theologian Martin Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School about the same woman. Adds another theologian: "The Christian whore."

While we remembered her advice to women to wrap themselves in Saran Wrap for hubby to unbundle and to practice little-girl pouts in the mirror, apparently to entice his inner pedophile, it took us the longest time to remember what her name was. And maybe that is in keeping with her philosophy of life. It was all about him, in the end.

You might want to read the article, if you haven’t eaten recently. You can look at this reminder of the underside of American culture as my contribution to Superbowl Day.