Thoughts FromThe Help

September 16, 2011

It’s the first Friday of the first full week back to school for us. I have a house in dire need of cleaning,  laundry piled on the trunk at the foot of my bed, my carpet is a bit, ahem, crunchy and there may be a few science projects in my fridge.  On my best weeks I am not a stellar housekeeper.  This week?  This past few weeks, to be honest, I have had different priorities.

Yet, I am hopeful for a routine to develop that brings that desperately necessary order from chaos.

It’s a cool, Fall morning.  Slightly misty over the golf course.  Or maybe it’s smoke?  I quit looking at the fire reports a week ago.  Now I just know that Allegra & I have become BFF’s and that this haze is wreaking havoc on my OCD little heart.

Last night I went to dinner, a movie and dessert with some girls.  We had, most of us, read the very popular and Socially Important book, The Help.  Which, by the way, was really very enjoyable, if that is possible while being politely impolitic regarding race and social relations in Mid-Century Jackson, Mississippi.

My brother, Michael, went to Bible College in Jackson in the early 80’s.  I wonder what he would have to say about the state of their union at the time or if, as a transplanted Montana Farm Boy, if he would have even noticed.

Dinner.  Kona Mix Plate.  Hawaiian food, excellent, go and eat there.  Movie.  “The Help”.  At the end of the movie Minnie & Abilene stand together in their church dresses and state the obvious, “Abilene’ll take care of me, Miss Skeeter and I reckon I’ll take care a her too.”   Sisters.  Not by blood but by shared experience, common trials and pain.

Throughout the movie there was an obvious and unrelenting comparison of two groups of women.  The anxious, eager to please, ever comparing Ladies Society led by the unrelenting and often vicious Miss Hilly and the very organic, warmness of the maids and their families led by the soft-spoken, broken Abilene.

Was much of it contrived to create the literary device of protagonist v. antagonist?  Assuredly.   It was difficult not to judge the Ladies Society harshly.  I had to remind myself that, in Real Life, much of what they struggled with were societal norms and traditional expectations.   Not so much different from us, really.  I know what to wear to which event and to whom I should speak regarding which thing, etc.  The maids, while being infinitely more comfortable to watch, to me, were in themselves bound by their own concepts of what is and is not “done”.

Stewart looked at Miss. Skeeter and said, “You are unlike any woman I’ve ever known.  You speak your mind.”   A collective sigh  “He gets her” tangibly flooded the estrogen rich theater and I wondered how many women there would go home and hope for that same emotion from those around them.  “Who gets me?”, we all wonder when the laundry isn’t finished, the grocery shopping is demanding to be done from the recesses of an empty fridge and our children bicker over silly things.

I don’t have big dreams.  Never have.  I tend to be pretty simple.  I do what’s in front of me.  I attempt to do it to the best of my ability.  Sometimes I even make a friend or two.  As long as they don’t expect me to be just like themselves we do ok.  What I don’t have?

That sister-hood.  Minnie & Abilene as they resolutely stand up near each other. Most of the time I find interaction with women exhausting as they dig into feelings, not beliefs, and perceptions instead of facts.  As we offer the obligatory compassion for the hardness of their lives and the overwhelming whatever of their own expectations.

What makes the Ladies Society work? Longevity.  And in our transitory world?  We don’t often keep the same circle of friends much longer than it takes the pastor to offend us, our husband to get a transfer or our interests to change.

Perhaps that’s what is wrong with this picture.   Minnie & Abilene shared the common struggle and the common life.  Miss Hilly & Skeeter shared the common experience and social expectation.

What do we share? And is it enough for us to create a sisterhood of our own with those around us?

Pondering with my morning tea…  No answers…  Just more questions…