Author Topic: Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!  (Read 310 times)

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Ann W

I have a job that doesn’t pay terribly well, but neither does it demand very much of me; and I get to spend hours every shift focusing on things that have nothing to do with work. I’ve read a number of books here, and spent an unholy amount of time on line; and I do a lot of thinking.

The film, “Auntie Mame” (1958), starring Rosalind Russell, was based on a book written by Patrick Dennis about his real-life Auntie Mame. If you’re familiar with the film, then this question may make sense to you: Why did Mame and Vera remain friends? Although they shared commonalities in the past – theater – and in the present – alcohol – they were very different people. Yet their friendship survived – even when Mame infuriated Vera by accidentally embarrassing her professionally.

Mame Dennis never seemed to need anyone. She was self-contained. She was all about living. Who was the poet – was it Whitman? – who wrote about sucking the sweetness out of life. That was Mame Dennis. The subject line was her motto. She was loving and giving to others, but never seemed to need anyone, herself.

I suspect that’s the secret. Modern culture speaks of love in terms of finding someone to make your life complete; but I suspect that’s completely wrong-headed. Two people filling one another’s empty spaces sounds more like codependence than love. I think you probably have to be complete already before you’re in any shape to build a life, or even just be real friends, with someone else.

I had a friend, a young woman, years ago for whom this film was her favorite. I didn’t think much of it at the time. But now, I see that Mame Dennis is a real role model: a strong, independent woman with a firm sense of self. She shared out of the abundance in her heart, rather than her need.

I’ve never had a relationship that worked, so it’s just speculation; but I’m guessing that romances and friendships that endure are like Mame’s friendship with Vera. I think it’s only when we’re complete in ourselves that we’re fit company for someone else – and vice versa.

This all came together for me this evening, at work, reflecting on why the people in my life seem disinterested in me, just as the women I married seemed disinterested in me. I always felt sorry for myself about this; and now that seems not merely foolish, but ridiculous. It’s not a matter of giving up on people, but of giving up on the dreams I had for them, to fulfill my needs. That’s not what other people are for.

I need to read that book by Patrick Dennis. I’ve always liked the character of Mame Dennis, as portrayed by Rosalind Russell. She may be just the role model I need.