Okay, I played hooky. When I should have been retesting the perfume I was in the middle of writing about I decided on the spur of the moment to go see “The Help”. I’d written about the book at PST a while ago when I wondered how well they’d adapt it to a movie. They did an excellent job, not shying away from the fact that for some of these women the South in the 60’s was hell.
I do know people who say that they yearn for the good old days when things moved slower and people were nicer to each other and things were so much cheaper, and to an extent I get it. I wish I was living in a time where a middle-class income would buy you a house in Southern California that was within 100 miles of work, where if you did your job you had it for as long as you want without it being sent off to Texas or South America or New Hebrides so the company wouldn’t have to show a year with no growth or a trip to the ER for a broken arm wasn’t an expense that might mean you go homeless.
On the other hand, as this movie matter-of-factly reminds us, “colored” people had to use separate everything (in one section of the book a black man is beaten almost to death for having used an unmarked “whites only” water fountain) and were sometimes treated as little more than moderately intelligent livestock by their employers. Even the privileged white people were shackled by societies idea of male and female role models. I could have been fired or denied housing or run of town simply because of my sexuality at that time. The cars may look cool and the perfumes had oomph but I have no nostalgia for that era or frankly any of the ones that came after that I actually lived through. Twenty years from now if I’m still breathing I’ll have little nostalgia for this previous decade. There were some definite high points, but 9/11, Prop 8 and the great recession will be remembrance of things that I will be glad to have passed.
I have nostalgia for certain things like dial telephones, Coke in 6 oz glass bottles, burning leaf piles. Luckily I can still get the former two and Chris Brosius does an incredible simulacrum of the latter (whew, got some perfume in there after all!!). Time periods, not so much.
If you have nostalgia for things from the past, whether yours or not, I’d love to discuss in the comments. Do see the movie, it’s wonderful. Take a friend and bring kleenex.