Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pretty Enough For All Normal Purposes

Pretty Girls: Coyote, Ramrod & Goth (our school pictures, 1966)

Another touching scene in Our Town takes place on the front porch, while Emily is helping her mother snap the beans. Emily cannot stop pestering:

"Mama, am I good looking?"

"What I mean is: am I pretty?"

"Mama, were you pretty?"

"Am I pretty enough . . .

Finally in exasperation, Mrs. Webb exclaims:

"Emily, you make me tired. Now stop it. You're pretty enough for all normal purposes. -- Come along now and bring that bowl with you."

Over the years, Mrs. Webb's concluding remark has become a stock phrase in our family, applicable to any number of situations. Is the car clean enough? It's clean enough for all normal purposes. Is there enough frosting on the cake? There's enough frosting for all normal purposes. Have we planted enough okra? We've planted enough okra for all normal purposes. How did the school pictures turn out this year? Good enough for all normal purposes. Have I included enough examples in this paragraph? Well, enough for all normal purposes!

dialogue from Our Town (1938)
by Thornton Wilder, American playwright (1897 - 1975)

P.S. For more on "Coyote, Ramrod, and Goth," see below:
August 3rd & 5th.

For more on Our Town see below: August 28th.

And my essay "The Mind of God"
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

1 comment:

  1. Vickie said . . .
    I love "Our Town" --I think it's one of the purest, best American literary works ever written. It is the myth and the reality. Did you see the PBS film version of the revival with Paul Newman as the narrator? In a side note, every time I hear Mama Cass sing, "Getting Better," I change the lyrics and have done since teenaged times:

    And it's gettin' better,
    Growin' stronger,
    Thornton Wilder (rather than "warm and wilder"),
    Gettin' better every day.

    I like it, and I'll bet he would, too.