by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
May 27, 2008
MOON RIVER AND ME
DUMMERSTON, Vt. - It was 1961. It was my first job. I was working in an textile designer's office off Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Every Friday, someone would slap an envelope containing my wages down on my desk - $64 and change, and the change always rattled. Innocent and trusting beyond belief, I often let the packet sit on my desk. One Friday, it disappeared.
The next week, one of my coworkers, a gay man named Tuck, took me out for a drink. Since he had never paid any attention to me before, the general consensus around the office was that he felt guilty. We sat at a bar - I had never been in a bar before - while he played "Moon River" for me over and over on the jukebox. We must have listened to it 20 times. I think it was the gay theme song that year, just as "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was the gay movie.
Lately, I have gotten into the habit of putting myself to bed at night by watching "Sex and the City" reruns. And I always think of Tuck when I hear "Moon River," which is prominently featured in an episode that ran again this week.
"It was the Sixties, and my parents had all the moves," Mr. Big says to Carrie. I had none of the moves, but I learned a few hard lessons listening to "Moon River" in that bar.
This is a good year for older women in the culture. Say what you want to about Hillary Clinton's politics (and I often say negative things), she's tough and she's out there and it's a very good thing.
In the world of entertainment, which is usually starving for older women, they have starred in three network television series this year - "Lipstick Mafia" and "Cashmere Mafia" both tanked; "Women's Murder Club" seems to be holding on. Several fine older actresses, including Glenn Close, Holly Hunter and Kyra Sedgewick, have created their own fascinating series on cable. Candace Bergen is everywhere - an object of desire in "Boston Legal," a successful magazine editor and frustrated dater in "SATC."
The term "cougar," meaning an older woman who enjoys the company of younger men, has entered the lexicon and become a social trend. True, the word has a predatory connotation, but I certainly like the idea of it. And I'm delighted that so many younger men have opted for that particular pleasure. If you can believe it, there are even dating services that help the trend along: dateacougar.com; gocougar.com; datingolderwomen.com; etc.
Even at the blockbuster movies, older women are making a comeback. In "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the feisty and charming Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen, 56), marries her first love, Indiana Jones, (If you don't know who plays him, then please don't read any further, 66.)
"Yes, there have been other women in my life," Indy tells Marion. "But there was always a problem. They weren't you."
And, of course, "Sex and the City: The Movie" is opening this weekend.
Most of the theaters selling advance tickets have already sold out opening weekend. The largest online-ticket site reported that 94% of polled ticket buyers are female - no surprise there - and 67% of pre-orderers are planning to go in a large group.
A woman from Singapore paid $19,000 for one opening night ticket. (It opened at the Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday.) When she found out it was a fake, she raised enough hell in the press to get a real one from the producers.
Tours of Manhattan, where they will bus people to the different sites where SATC was filmed, followed by dinner and Cosmopolitans, then private screenings, have also sold out. Many women are planning parties. Some are flying across country to see the film with their friends. There's been an enormous buzz and as well as an enormous backlash - always a sign that things are churning in the culture.
I've been a fan of SATC for years, first on HBO and then in expurgated form on the cable channels. It's not the four female leads' unbelievable apartments, insane costumes, impossible high heels, perfect bodies, buckets of spending money and free time that attracts me. I know that's all shuck, just like I know Sarah Jessica Parker isn't that easy to look at in close-up.
But I can easily suspend disbelief if the stories are real - and they are. For any woman making her way in the world, the dating disasters, sex conflicts, bad marriage choices, health problems and job catastrophes (Hi, Tuck!) depicted in the series ring very true.
None of these women are perfect. They often make fools of themselves. They break hearts and have their hearts broken. They learn hard lessons. They show us the true meaning and importance of female friendship. Their situations come straight from the real lives of the show's women writers. The glamour is only the gloss - underneath you can sense real people struggling with real issues.
So I'll be one of the excited women in the audience this weekend. The movie may be good or bad, but I love the fact that the culture is acknowledging the lively existence of women over 40.
After all, they used to burn older women as witches. This is definitely a step up.
A collection of Joyce Marcel's columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," is available through joycemarcel.com. And write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.