Sunday, April 6, 2008

cactus flower

My recent obsession with Goldie Hawn culminated in a whirlwind reading of her autobiography A Lotus Grows in the Mud. You can't make up titles like that. Well, she can, but not me. As I do whenever I have embarrassing subject matter to read, I enlisted Wendy to get the book out of the library for me.

Last time I did this resulted in a coup for Wendy. I systematically stockpiled every single book on lesbianism I could find (including, So, You Want to Be a Lesbian) while she went about her way browsing the detective novels, blithely unaware. At the last minute before checkout, I dumped the lesbian books on the counter and asked the guy to put them on her card. (I'm almost always sans library card, for reasons too numerous to go into here.)

Predictably, I was several weeks late returning the books. Which meant that next time she went to the library, the sexy butch librarian who rules the Piedmont branch with an iron fist "spoke" to her about them. Sure, she had to pay fifty cents, but that's a small price for the patronage of such a powerful figure.

This time, though, it didn't work out so well. The librarian called across the room, "Is this your Goldie Hawn biography? Miss?" As Wendy frantically tried to figure out how to believably claim it was "for a friend."

It was all worth it for me, though, as I struggled to answer the question: how is Goldie not embarrassed about herself? For years I've wondered this. I see her on TV every now and then, saving elephants or telling us to recycle or talking about her screenplay in which a widow travels to India and is visited by the ghost of her dead husband. How can she not want to crawl into a hole in the ground? The sheer existence of Goldie in the world is a justification for hari kari.

And yet she continues. Nay, flourishes. I wanted to know her secret. Apparently it all boils down to being not all that bright. Still, I'm glad I read the book because she seems to be an incredibly loving person. (I thought that about Paula Abdul, too, because she was once nice to Wendy in line for the women's room at a restaurant -- and boy, was I wrong about her.) But Goldie (her actual, honest to gosh name) seems to be without snobbery or affectation.

She did have some cool things to say about success making you feel estranged from your family, and how success engenders jealousy and guilt -- all the stuff that people who change classes or cultures go through. Apparently nine years of analysis helped her deal. But besides that (not surprisingly, in retrospect) Goldie has very little to teach us.

Whatever, I still liked Foul Play.

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