Ya'll keep referring to the "wowa" but Florence King, a fine Southern Lady living in New York City, used to write a regular column "Fridays with Florence" for National Review On-Line. I include a pertinent quote from her December 31, 2001 column.
I didn't go on any particular diet, and, needless to say, I didn't join any of those clubs or support groups. I just did commonsense things, plus mild exercises at first, and later, long walks. I even dieted on Christmas last year and Thanksgiving this year—freelance writing is the best training in self-discipline there is, and I have a Southern advantage when it comes to Thanksgiving. When I was little, my grandmother's aunt was still living at 94, and had vivid memories of what she called "the Woah." She considered Thanksgiving a Yankee holiday and made a point of observing it with soft-boiled eggs and bouillon, so I had the same.
Now, Miss King is a misanthrope. That is; she just doesn't like people. This is some of the finest curmudgeonly writing you'll "evah read."
Here's another tidbit:
A few weeks ago a woman in town noticed I was limping and asked what was wrong. When I said I had an ingrown toenail she beamed with joy and recommended her podiatrist, singing his praises so fervently that I couldn't get a word in. Finally, when she paused to dig in her bag for his card, I spoke.
"Stop. I don't care to associate with the sort of person who majors in feet."
An ingrown toenail is as challenging as a crossword puzzle. I had a martini to prepare myself for surgery; then, when I felt good and supple, I sterilized my instruments in boiling water and went to work. I got the little bugger out, then doused my toe with rubbing alcohol, followed by hydrogen peroxide-"Stand the sting and you get to watch the foam," as my grandmother used to say when she doctored my skinned knees.
Afterward, I had another martini to celebrate my recovery. As I sat watching my foaming toe, it occurred to me that what I had just done might well be declared illegal in the not-too-distant future. Now that the Gray Gelding has put Regina Dentata in charge of national health, I could end up in the Hillary-Billary dock.
Here Ms. King explains her misanthropy:
Many Americans are unfamiliar with the word misanthrope, as I discovered when I tried to discourage a persistent Southern women's club that wanted me to serve as its guide on a literary tour of Europe.
"I can't, I'm a misanthrope."
"Oh, honey, you don't have to let it cramp your style! My sister-in-law's a diabetic and she can go anywhere she wants as long as she takes her little kit with her."
Like any personality trait, misanthropy is a matter of degree. Taken in the literal sense, the obvious problem is one of logistics: hating the entire human race is hard to do, though a few flinty souls have done it. In the figurative sense, however, misanthropy is a realistic attitude toward human nature that Americans would do well to understand and adopt.
We hold dual citizenship in the Republic of Nice and the Republic of Mean. Torn between smile buttons and happy talk on the one side and Balkanization on the other, we are going as crazy as Timon of Athens, the philanthropist-turned-misanthrope of whom Shakespeare said: "The middle of humanity thou never knewest, but the extremity of both ends."
I'll give you a little more:
Deer-on-velvet sensibility comes through loud and clear in the ubiquitous "Health Watch" segments on television news. These emotion-drenched reports feature scuzzy-looking individuals who hold up their drainage bags or their cross-eyed kids to the camera; unappetizing women with their breasts clamped in mammogram machines; and blank-eyed expectant mothers who allow themselves to be photographed in the stirrups.
Invited to "tell their story in their own words," they slip into the whining nasal tones of trailer-park grievance collectors, explaining that it all started when the medicine that was supposed to cure this caused that; then another medicine they took for a disease they thought they had but didn't caused the double vision that caused the accident; and then the triplets ate the asbestos.
These sagas of pain and wrecked lives and germ-free plastic bubbles are supposed to be moving, but they move me to expropriate George V's words on hearing that one of his courtiers liked little boys: "I always thought people like that shot themselves."
New Age hypochondria lends itself to the literary exercise feminists call "deconstruction." If we keep peeling the artichoke of "health awareness" we eventually will uncover an unpleasant truth that pollsters cannot reach.
Notwithstanding our worship of perfect bench-pressed bodies, we like them much better if their owners admit to overdosing on steroids and waste away before our very eyes, preferably in public-service commercials about the dangers of steroids. New Age hypochondriacs glorify the lame, the halt, and the defective. Like Bill Clinton compulsively retelling the story of the New Hampshire boy who navigated his wheelchair down an icy winter highway to get to a Clinton rally, they cheer every insane feat the handicapped undertake, from double amputees climbing mountains to blind yachtsmen sailing the Atlantic alone.
New Age hypochondriacs call such foolhardy exploits "courageous," and woe be unto anyone who disagrees with this fashionable rationalization, because something very important is at stake here.
It's Saturday night, take a break from solving the world's problems and have a few laughs with a misanthrope like yourself. Fridays with Florence Enjoy!
At Brainy Quotes: