Monday, January 3, 2011

as you were?

One-time sex symbol and social show-off Zsa Zsa Gabor (nee Gábor Sári), 93, was scheduled to have about 12 inches of her leg cut off due to fears of gangrene, the Associated Press reported today. Pieces of the article that grabbed my eye included these: She did not like being photographed in later life:

"She wants people to remember her as she was years ago," (her husband) said.
 A Hungarian-born sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, Gabor had a brief and unremarkable film career.... Her primary role was herself - appearing on TV specials and game shows, as a guest on several television series, and in real-life dramas like her slapping of a Beverly Hills policeman in 1989 that led to a brief jail term.

Strangely human, I think ... having a primary role as your self and yet wanting, as time passes, to be remembered as you were ... which is no longer who you are.  Human and somehow sad -- to have lived so long and failed to learn how to live peacefully in the present. 

You are taught how to think, what to believe, how to walk and run, how to climb mountains and hunt deer, how to write a novel or set a concrete foundation, how to get married or hold a job, how to build a bank account or drive a car, how to make friends or defeat enemies, how to spell or disentangle a mathematical equation, how to say "thank you" and "please" ... wouldn't you think there would be some training in what is most obvious, what is most inescapable, and what is sometimes most confounding?

Instead, of course, everyone is left on their own hook. Sexy and slim, old and wrinkled, tall and short, well-off or impoverished, smart as an alley cat or dumb as a lamp post ... it's up to you and what is up to you is right-now.

When I was a kid, I used to think adults possessed magical secrets that some day -- soon, I hoped -- I would also know. Magical stuff like flying or disappearing or not having to eating Brussels sprouts. Adults were powerful and assured -- how else could they order me around with such effectiveness? They accomplished things I could not and, man, I wanted to be king of the castle too!

And sure enough, like everyone else, I made of my life whatever I made of it, whether as slinky celebrity or ordinary schlub. But now -- the same now that has never been missing -- I look back and wish, like a child, I could recapture an imagined magic. And a small voice whines, "How come no one TOLD me?!" Gangrene is no joke. Somehow there should have been some training. And of course there was training, but the adults, the ones who stabilized and reinforced my view of myself, were not the ones capable of offering it. 

I don't mean this to segue into some maudlin recollection of an ill- or well-spent past, some religion-based velvet threat that promises heaven or hell.

Everyone deserves to be comforted. But the composition of that comfort deserves reflection. That comfort deserves to be fact-based. And what are the facts?

Well, I could use some breakfast.

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