Monday, April 27, 2009

Women of Note

Just a glance at The New York Times these days brings a nervous, anxious smile to my pinched lips and reminds me of the tumult in the theme song from the 60s sitcom about the NYPD, Car 54, Where Are You?: “There’s a hold up in the Bronx/Brooklyn’s broken out in fights/There’s a traffic jam in Harlem/That’s backed up to Jackson Heights/There’s a scout troop short a child/ Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild/Car 54, Where Are You?” The swine flu is swirling, the earth is quaking, the Taliban is on the verge of taking over Pakistan, the economy is gurgling further down the drain, we can’t figure out what to do about military torture, the glaciers are melting, and bean sprouts have joined the Gang of Vegetables That’ll Kill Ya. It’s all this stuff, and a lot more, which has rendered me speechless (and blog postless) over the past few weeks. So, instead of railing against the things that not only can’t I change, but also can’t fathom, I’d rather talk about something I understand: women (again).

On a positive note, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius‏, who understands better than most that we’re not in Kansas anymore, and whose candidacy for Secretary for Health and Human Services will be voted on by the Senate tomorrow, may fare better than pro-choice advocates thought (thankfully), since the swine flu makes it imperative that we have someone smart and assertive in that post, post-haste. And on a heartwarming note, a middle-aged Scottish “plain Jane” named Susan Boyle surprised the world by showing that one doesn’t have to be a young beauty to sing magnificently (haven’t centuries of opera taught us anything?). But on a poignant note, the wonderful Bea Arthur (shown above) died over the weekend, leaving us with one less sharp, sassy woman, a grievous loss. Thank goodness for re-runs of The Golden Girls.

These three ladies have been much on my mind over the past few days, along with the fab four of Sex and the City: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis). I was a big fan of the series, which frankly surprised me, since I don’t usually have much rapport with slim, fashion-obsessed, New York Magazine-prototype women. And I’ve seen the movie at least a half-dozen times since it landed on HBO this month. It’s not a great movie, it’s not even as good as the series, but it comforts me. What’s not to like about good, clever writing, capable acting, intelligent ideas, a rousing celebration of friendship, and tenderhearted girls looking for love in the proverbial urban jungle?

Indeed, all of the women I’ve mentioned here soothe me. Smart, talented, kind, brave, unusual women provide my strongest relief and encouragement, even when I only know them from behind the barriers of politics and show biz. And given the array of harpies on reality television, the tormented zombies on red-carpeted Hollywood boulevards, the boob-flashing numb nuts on Girls Gone Wild, the laminated lovelies so often passed off as TV journalists, and the anonymous everywomen who achieve fame through crime, stupidity and excessive childbirth, all of whom assault our sensibilities on a daily basis, the women I admire form an amalgam of Eleanor Roosevelt, Audrey Hepburn, Lily Tomlin and Aretha Franklin.

As has often been the necessary case, sisters are doin’ it for themselves and each other. And in these unbelievably troubled times, sisterhood is not only powerful, it’s a lifeline to sanity and sustenance. My girlfriends are my salvation. Have you spoken to your BFF today? You’ll feel better if you do – swine flu and all.

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