Where once we biffed, now we just footle
It’s Friday and that means that America’s Worst Mother™ is back and ready to tell you that her children (Abercrombie, Stilton, Gatsby, and Grok) are like Greek or Homeric gods except for the fact that they’re not from Greece or Homeria.
With a surprising nod toward popular culture (which would be anything that became popular after, say, 1959) Meghan acknowledges that Troy is being released to the unwashed masses which means that her son’s name will soon be explained to all the riff raff, particularly those who associate him with that trashy rich slut whose video Mr. Meghan seems to have a fondness for.
“Aw, was he conceived in Paris?” comes the sidling and astonishingly intimate question from Group A. This group is made up of generally well-meaning people who have not been much exposed to classical themes. Group A will sometimes pursue the question by bringing up the surname Hilton. On these occasions my hand involuntarily closes around an invisible cudgel and it is a struggle to keep smiling.
Of course the more intimate question would have been: “Is he called Paris because he’s the result of a broken Trojan®?”, but that would have just given Meghan the vapors and she would have scarcely recalled it.
Anyway, the release of the movie (as opposed to her husbands release which created Paris) allows her to show off how classically trained she is, with mentions of Waugh, Sysiphus, Jupiter, harpies, bacchantes, and the Augean stables which she uses to remind everyone that, for a stay at home mom, she’s a lousy housekeeper:
And whereas Hercules had the task of mucking out the Augean stables once, your average housewife digs through the grisly sediment in the corners of childrens’ rooms every fortnight. Unlike Hercules she doesn’t have the luxury of diverting a river to do her dirty work, and furthermore, for all the Augeanness of those mythological stables, I feel sure they did not contain mummified citrus fruits.
Perhaps if she put down the Proust and picked up the broom she wouldn’t be having these problems and then she could invoke the Greek Goddess of Cleanliness: Domestica.
From there, Meghan (The Slovenly American Goddess of Self-Deprecating Bon Mots) reminds us that her life is not only like a Greek tragedy, but it has Biblical overtones too, because a plague o’ locusts is about to plague her life:
According to news accounts, countless millions of nymphs have begun crawling out of their underground pods in the last week. As with the one we find, they grab on to something, let rip, and then, having emerged in cicada form, with tender wings, make their way into the trees. In a week or so, the air will be full of them.
And with any luck they will invade her house, like the ants in Leiningen Vs. the Ants leaving it cleaner than they found it.
Meanwhile, before the bug invasion her son gets in a quick manly lesson in that most manly of sports (tennis) while Meghan and her daughters “footle” (around in the park. Footle-ing being more girly than the gender neutral “biffing”.
There’s a shout from the courts, and Paris races off to play tennis. For the next 45 minutes, the girls and I footle about in the kiddie park, playing tag, and hide-and-seek, and find-the-cicada. At length, I unpack sandwiches and chocolate milk for them, deputize Molly, and stroll over to watch the last few minutes of the lesson.
As I arrive, Paris is practicing his serve.
“Not so hard, Bam-Bam,” the instructor calls out, as the ball sails high over the fence and into the playground.
“What do you mean, Bam-Bam?”
“Bam-bam,” the man repeats with a shrug, his voice trailing away. “Gee, I guess nobody watches The Flintstones anymore.”
Other children are serving neatly over the nets, or into the nets, and balls are bouncing obediently within opposite service lines, when â€”
Thwap! Another ball soars into over the fence.
“That boy is like Hercules,” I hear a father remark approvingly to the people standing with him.
“Actually,” I call, casting the die, “His name is Paris.”
“Oh, after the hero,” he says, nodding.
“Well, yes,” I reply, “And thank you.”
As she gazes, Jocasta-like….