Nov. 21, 2004

Pre-Holiday PMS

by Ginger Andrews

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Poem: "Pre-Holiday PMS," by Ginger Andrews, from An Honest Answer © Story Line Press. Reprinted with permission.

Pre-Holiday PMS

I don't want to be thankful this year.
I don't want to eat turkey and I could care
if I never again tasted
your mother's cornbread stuffing.
I hate sweet potato pie. I hate mini marshmallows.
I hate doing dishes while you watch football.

I hate Christmas. I hate name-drawing.
I hate tree-trimming, gift-wrapping,
and Rudolph the zipper-necked red-nosed reindeer.
I just want to skip the whole merry mess—
unless, of course, you'd like to try
to change my mind. You could start
by telling me I'm pretty and leaving me
your charge cards
and all your cash.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of English novelist Beryl Bainbridge, born in Liverpool, England (1933). Her books include The Birthday Boys (1993), which was fashioned around Captain Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole; and The Dressmaker (1973), about a young woman who lives with her two unmarried aunts in Liverpool during World War Two.

It's the birthday of novelist Marilyn French, born in New York City (1929). She wrote her thesis on James Joyce (1976), and a year later came out with her novel The Women's Room (1977), which became a huge success and enabled French to write and publish without doubt and anxiety about money. Her other titles include Her Mother's Daughter (1987), Our Father (1993), and Women's History of the World (2000).

It's the birthday of children's novelist Elizabeth George Speare, born in Melrose, Massachusetts (1908). She's best known for her book The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958), about a sixteen-year old girl who becomes caught up in a witch hunt in colonial New England.

It's the birthday of tenor sax player Coleman Hawkins, born in St. Joseph, Missouri (1901). He picked up the tenor saxophone—which, up to that time, was considered a kind of vaudeville novelty instrument—when he was nine. It was Coleman Hawkins, more than anyone else, who developed the tenor saxophone into one of the most popular jazz instruments.

It was during his decade with Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra (1923-1934) that Hawkins developed as a soloist. In 1934, Hawkins traveled to Europe, where he stayed for five years, playing with most of the great European jazzmen, like Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. When war broke out in Europe, Hawkins returned to the United States (1939), where he laid down his most celebrated recording, "Body and Soul."

It's the birthday of French philosopher and writer Voltaire, born François Marie Arouet, in Paris (1694). He studied law, but dropped it to become a writer. He produced a series of satirical poems which landed him in the Bastille for a year. Twice in his life, he had to leave France because of what he'd written on political subjects. The publication of his anti-establishment Philosophical Letters forced him to flee to the country in 1734, and he didn't return for 28 years. His best known work is the philosophical tale Candide (1766), in which the optimistic Dr. Pangloss declares, "All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds."

On this day in 1620, 41 men aboard the Mayflower, at anchor off Cape Cod, signed what was called the Mayflower Compact, a document which created a body politic and bound the signers to its laws. The Mayflower Compact became the foundation of the government established by the Pilgrims at Plymouth.

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