This has been an interesting week, my first week of telecommuting. Here in the post-modern world, many people telecommute and now I’ve joined the legions of slipper-clad workers, pounding away at a computer from a spare bedroom or their mother’s basement.
I’ve been thinking about one of Margo Channing’s monologues from the movie All About Eve; the stalled car scene. (I can’t direct you to any online video because the scene apparently contains content from FOX, who has blocked it from me and the rest of the world on copyright grounds. It’s probably just because the film was distributed by 20th Century Fox, in 1950.)
I was able to find the script of the movie here. The monologue, in its entirety, is about two-thirds of the way through.
I’ve watched the movie many times; Bette Davis was a powerful actress and the movie is full of smart and witty dialogue. She had a Maine connection, too. During the Fifties, she and Gary Merrill spent their summers in Cape Elizabeth, in a house called ‘Witch Way.” A ubiquitous zillion dollar house has replaced their simple colonial home on Zeb Cove Road.
I’m sure it’s perfectly lovely.
In the movie, Bette, as Margo Channing, is sitting in a stalled land yacht on a snowy Connecticut road with her best friend Karen. They’re covered with a fur car robe and the car is out of gas. Karen’s husband, Lloyd, has shuffled off into the winter landscape to find a gas station. Margo and Karen light up cigarettes and Margo begins talking, leading up to these lines that always echo in my mind when I hear them:
“…funny business, a woman’s career. The things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you’ll need them when you get back to being a woman.”
I often think about my “woman’s career.” I’ve performed quite a few monologues myself, stalled out on Route 128 or driving up and down the Maine Turnpike, over the years. I’ve done “office work” ever since I graduated from college. I don’t remember any of my guidance counselors telling me that one of my career choices was to be a woman.
If I had it to do over again, I’d like to be a housewife. I think I would have been good at it. I like to cook and clean; I own a lot of aprons. I enjoy doing the things my mother, the housewife, has done in her career as a woman.
I’m grateful The Big Corporation is letting me work from home. I enjoy being in my home office and even though I have to finish setting up one last piece of equipment, my desk is covered with Cath Kidston-like oilcloth fabric and I may make a frilly curtain for the window this weekend. I’ve noticed where the sun goes during the day; around 4:00 p.m., it streams in by my kitchen sink and I take a break to wash and dry my dishes.
I don’t wear my jammies; I get dressed every day and put on real shoes. Just for kicks, I’ve been putting on an apron, too, although no one sees me.
I saw a used land yacht for sale in town.
I’ve had a life full of choices and career opportunities. Some I regret, some have been profitable and all have had consequences. I don’t see myself choosing a used station wagon any time soon, but that’s okay because long car monologues are a thing of the past and I don’t have a fur car robe.
I don’t know what I’ll end up being; maybe a telecommuting housewife. Sure, I want to change the world, but I’m thinking of a micro and local career, not a macro and global one. Like Margo Channing, I’m picking up the things I dropped along the way and getting back to being a woman.
The journey continues!