Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blast from the Past

Today I got the wild impulse to organize the cupboard under the stairs. I found some boxes of photos and other memorabilia that I haven't looked at for who knows how many years. I decided to drag them out and take a peek.

I found a box that held (among other items) late 80's and early 90's pics (see photo, right), prom pictures, summer camp pictures, letters from camp friends, letters from my brother (who used "Skater Bro" as his return address), and one essay from an AP English class. Reading this essay, I was struck by the familiar voice--making me fear that, perhaps, I have not grown or evolved that much in the past 18-ish years. However, I thought that it was worth sharing as a glimpse of the writer in a (hopefully) more raw form:

CAUSE AND EFFECT ESSAY
by Becky Jenkins

I always know when THAT TIME is approaching. I can see it coming a mile away. THAT TIME always fills me with a sense of impending doom. There is just no way to get out of THAT TIME. (At least not until you reach that special age.) THAT TIME is the most bothersome time in my life; it's dirty, inconvenient, and unavoidable. Right now I am in the middle of THAT TIME--yes, that's right--it's my week for dishes.

I know I am not the only one who hates doing dishes. Nearly every person in America is terrified of it.

Why? you may ask, is this everyday necessity so terrifying?

Why do people go to such extremes to avoid it? For example, the other night I had to get my dishes done before I could go over to my friend, Michelle's house to work on a dance we are going to be performing. Needless to say, I was not pleased. In fact, I was just a little bit on the furious side. In my fit of anger, I offered my little brother money, favors, my favorite tape, a movie, and even my love if only he would do the dishes for me.

Looking back, I question my reasoning for going so totally out of control. I believe the fear of doing the dishes is a much more serious problem than most people realize.

The fear of doing the dishes is one of the main reasons for the decline of the nuclear family, and the trend toward divorce.

There can be no harmony in a home where everyone is fighting about who will do the dishes next. But, where did this fear come from in the first place? That question must be answered before anything can be done to alleviate the fear and restore the stability of the American family.

In exploring American history for the answer to this question, one discovers that since the birth of our country, people have feared the dishes. In the Old South every home, no matter how financially unsuccessful, had a slave for the primary purpose of doing the family dishes. Since that time families have always had housekeepers and maids, or more commonly, children, to do the dreaded task.

The fear began with the discovery of bacteria and germs. When sweet southern women discovered that they could contaminate their delicate hands or any other body part, for that matter, they immediately dismissed the practice of washing the dishes themselves.

In more recent years, the fear has been exemplified by the women's movement. Women refuse to do the dishes for fear that they may not be considered modern and liberated if they did do them, and men shudder at the prospect of doing the job because they are afraid of being accused of being a chauvinist if they admit that the "job just isn't in my blood," or the fear of being a chauvinist if they do the job and end up getting accused of trying to show up a woman.

These fears are embedded in the minds of America's youth at a very young age and it is passed on from generation to generation as children are always made to stoop and do the humiliating task.

The main problem with this comes in with newlyweds, when there are no children in the home yet. This means that either the wife or the husband must do the job, and neither wants to. This often leads to the first spat, and later to the divorce. It's no wonder that fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce when one hundred percent of all married people hate to do the dishes.

As long as there are still dishes to be done, there will be divorce and domestic unease in America.

THE END
(I added "THE END" so you would know the ancient essay was over and it was the present me now talking.)
My teacher loved the opening paragraph, writing "clever!" in the margin. He also liked the comparison of children to slaves and the part about feminism. However, I only received a B+. The thing that scares me most about that grade (which is a surprise as English was my top subject and I did earn A's come report card time) is the similarity to my current narrative voice and style, and the fear that in the end, I still have a glaring B+ staring me in the face.

2 comments:

Kellie said...

OMG! I remember taking those pictures! I remember those clothes! LOL!
Was it Mr. B that gave you that B+? You are, and were, a fabulous writer.
Thanks for sharing!

Jaxomatic said...

Beck...I think you were just advanced at that young age to be able to write an essay with that kind of voice and tone. I am waiting for some kind of Yaya Sisterhood novel from you. It's in there. Loved this, loved the picture. YOU are hilarious and wonderful. Loves, Jax