Hominy & Hash
A WOMAN'S PREROGATIVE
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- One of the earliest truths I learned is that it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind. Actually, I didn't learn it until I started going to the movies and then heard it from the madcap blondes of the day, tossing the line over their shoulders as they sashayed toward the door, passing the perplexed the maitre'd and leaving their escort behind.
"But we have reservations. The Nolans will be joining us," he called after her in a stage whisper.
"I don't care, I changed my mind. It's my prerogative, don't ya know?"
Both the gentleman in the tuxedo and the maitre'd (also tuxedo clad) look at each other and offer a shrug that says loud and clear: "They're batty, but they're worth it."
The scripts written for those flighty actresses involved one caper or another but there was always something they would change their minds about - no doubt because the scriptwriter thought of something else that might "work" toward a better story line.
Nevertheless, it's accepted as dogma: It's in a woman's nature to not only change her mind, but to do it without censure. I'm not sure which came first, the definition of "madcap" for the gals with the attitude, or, behavior that was so outrageous there had to be a name for it.
I could say Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Constance Bennett starred as madcap blondes in the thirties and a dying breed of moviegoers would know exactly how a madcap blonde behaved.
For the younger moviegoers, I'll give you the words my Thesaurus offers: rash, brash, hasty, hot headed, ill advised, incautious, inconsiderate, mad-brained, reckless, thoughtless, unadvised, unconsidered, unwary. And, the definition itself is, madcap: acting, done, or expressed with undue haste or disregard for consequences.
There you have it. A true picture of a madcap blonde. Changing her mind was only one prerogative she took to heart. She could be ruthless and conniving to further the plot. And, she was never anything but the star. Audiences loved them. My mother went so far as to name me after Constance Bennett!
So we have it on both good authority and celluloid documentation that it is indeed a woman's prerogative to change her mind; which, by the way, is quite different from making a firm decision, a commitment made with follow-through expected.
Just as I offered definitions and examples of those madcap women who changed their minds as often as their hats, I'll now describe what can happen if you make a firm decision, vowing not to change your mind.
I'll tell you about Jenny, a woman in song and story. (Lyrics by Kurt Weill, music by Ira Gershwin, the score of the movie "Lady in the Dark," with Ginger Rogers singing 'Jenny'.)
Jenny was always making up her mind. At three, she decided that she alone would decorate the Christmas tree. She did, then carelessly tossed away the tapers, becoming an orphan on Christmas Day. Each example of Jenny's misadventures is followed by the verse: "Poor Jenny, Bright as a penny, her equal would be hard to find, she lost one dad and mother, a sister and a brother, but she would make up her mind."
At 12, she decided to learn foreign languages. Then, when she was a 17 year old at Vassar, it struck quite a blow "that in twenty-seven languages she couldn't say no."
At 22, Jenny decided she needed a husband - and she got one, only it wasn't hers.
"Poor Jenny, she would make up her mind."
At 51, Jenny decided to publish her memoirs and "the day the book was published, history relates, there were wives who shot their husbands in some 33 states."
"Poor Jenny ... her equal would be hard to find."
The lines running through my mind most often, pointing the way to the moral of her story - which is directed "to all man and womankind," is this:
"Anyone with vision comes to this decision: Don't make up your mind."
Perhaps I'll remember that when I reach her age:
"Jenny made her mind up at seventy-five, she would live to be the oldest woman alive. But when fate and destiny played their tricks, Jenny kicked the bucket at seventy-six."
"Poor Jenny, bright as a penny," with a saga full of wisdom and just plain common sense. We learned from her never to waiver from the position we take; keep sitting on the fence.
She might have been saying she would learn from her mistakes - though never planning to make any. The last line of the song is "Anyone with vision comes to this decision - don't make up your mind."
What I've learned from Jenny is to think it through, look at all angles, proceed cautiously, make up my mind and then just do it. If things don't go as planned, well, then, I'll just change my mind. I am a woman; I am a blonde, and it's my prerogative to change my mind ... don't ya know?