Babylon Revisited Again

This blog uses an internet blogging tool provided by “Wordpress.” According to Wikipedia, WordPress is currently the most popular blogging system in use on the internet. WordPress provides bloggers with lots of help, support, and tools to create better blogs. I haven’t participated in any WordPress blogging activities before, but last week’s “Weekly Writing Challenge” caught my eye. It was called “Stylish Imitation” and the challenge was to discard one’s own personal writing style and imitate the style or tone of a favorite author.

My first “favorite” author was F. Scott Fitzgerald. In high school, I read a book of his short stories called “Tales of the Jazz Age” and my fascination with him continued into college. I’ve read almost everything he wrote, including his letters, plus biographies and critiques of his work. I knew if I pulled out an old college paperback, I would find a favorite paragraph or sentence by sad old Scott Fitzgerald.

In the short story “Babylon Revisited” I had asterisked the following paragraph, with the notation “Wow, FSF rules!” in the margin and also underlined some of the sentences:

“At dinner he couldn’t decide whether Honoria was most like him or her mother. Fortunate if she didn’t combine the traits of both that had brought them to disaster. A great wave of protectiveness went over him. He thought he knew what to do for her. He believed in character; he wanted to jump back a whole generation and trust in character again as the eternally valuable element. Everything else wore out.”

(From “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published February 21, 1931 in the Saturday Evening Post.)

Here is my “stylish imitation” of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 72 words.


Elizabeth Spencer looked at the black vintage dress hanging in her closet and knew today was the day it would fit. There was only one fear lingering in the back of her mind; vintage clothing was made for vintage bodies molded by vintage foundation garments. The hourglass figures of past fashionable women were created by corsets and girdles, not cotton bikini briefs.

Elizabeth Spencer had no foundation garments and she was down to her last pair of cotton bikini briefs. Although she had taken her mother’s advice to own plenty of underwear (“so you don’t have to do laundry all the time”), she had once again worked through a drawer-full and gotten to the one lone ill-fitting pair of Hanes Her Way. If she gained 5 pounds, they didn’t fit; she had even pinned a note to them once which said “lose weight, fatso.” She had examined this particular pair, convinced that the fabric had been incorrectly cut. She had even compared this pair to others and proven her theory.

They should never have been sold. They were the worst form of cheap modern manufacturing.

She put them on anyway; today they fit. With a sigh, she finished dressing.

She just wanted to go back in time, to a day when American clothes were made by American people for American bodies. It wasn’t that she was a jingoist or a neo-con; she just wanted some classic, well-made clothing that would last a few years. She’d tried to find brands which were classically tailored and long-lasting, but like the crooked and uneven seams of her underwear, sweaters and skirts would unravel and shred after being worn once or twice. There was a reason no brand dared call themselves something like “Toughskins” these days.

She took a final look in the mirror and dashed for the door.

“Well, at least we’re still wearing clothes.”

(Photo courtesy of Xenia Levitsky.)

This entry was posted in Just Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.