Essay 24: Happy Birthday Zelda Fitzgerald
- There are people who like to say that you weren’t really crazy, or that your craziness was a sane response to Scott being such a bastard.
- They like to say that even if you were mad, Scott was far madder, and that is the real story here.
- These are the same people who write dissertations on how Ophelia wasn’t really mad either, like she is a real person. They turn to the DSM and say Look, here, what she had is PTSD.
- This pains me. It cuts me up inside. It makes me want to either lie down on the floor, or else find out where these people live and stage a Say Anything-style scene outside their homes.
- There’s me, standing with a boom-box, sound as high as it can go. The boom-box is playing a song I have written myself. I play all the instruments and I do all the singing. My voice is very fine.
- The song is called OPHELIA WASN’T A REAL PERSON.
- The B-Side is called Zelda Fitzgerald Had A Lot of Problems and That’s Okay, It Doesn’t Mean That Scott Wasn’t a Dickhead or That Women Don’t Have It Pretty Rough In General.
- I am sorry to be bringing all of this up on your birthday.
- I am sorry, also, that you had such a terrible time, so much worse than anyone could have imagined.
- You were very pretty and clever, as well as being a real sport. Also funny, charming, and perfectly unbeatable at idle chatter. You were good at making a scene, and good at sitting in the middle of it, wondering what all the fuss was about. You were probably excellent at tennis.
- I feel sure you would have scared the hell out of me, and identified me at once as a cowardly nerd.
- I would have accepted such a judgement as my due, but I would point out that we were destined eventually to be pals.
- I would point out the things we have in common: we both like parties and clothes, and we both make a giant preening deal of how good we are at swimming. Everyone knows how good we are at swimming, what dashing figures we cut in the water, and this is because we never stop telling them.
- We can’t help it.
- We are very good.
- I get it from my grandmother, the swimming thing. She took to the water at the slightest opportunity, insisting that one never regrets a swim.
- She also liked parties and clothes, and was very pretty and clever. She was the most unbelievable sport.
- Her use of the word “extraordinary” made a profound impression on me. She used it in place of saying that she thought something was horrible or weird. I once heard her say “What an extraordinary man, and what an extraordinary house,” and I understood that a mortal blow had been dealt
- You would have liked her a lot.
- Her life was not perfect – there were times when she was very sad.
- But it was a good and happy life, overall.
- She loved her family and her friends, and we loved her back. Also: dressing up, mountains, music, flowers, rivers, angels, animals, and any excuse for a party.
- Your life should have been like hers, but you ended up in an entirely different movie.
- You couldn’t have known, when you were a young and glittering show-off, what sort of sadness was coming for you, and in what sort of quantities.
- I am sorry, again, to be bringing all of this up on your birthday.
- Here’s your present: there’s you, in the water, on a sunny day. Someone you love is standing on the jetty, waving at you. A party is just about to start. It’s going to be a good one. All your best people are coming. You know that you need to go in soon, but you can’t bring yourself to do it just yet. The water is so lovely, and you are such an excellent swimmer, after all. Another five minutes.