Wednesday 15 January 2014

Middle aged blues

I found 'It's Hard to be Hip Over Thirty and Other Tragedies of Married Life' by Judith Viorst on someone's TRB Pile Challenge list and was curious at the title and did a search (isn't the internet a wonderful thing). It sounded just irresistible, so I bought this second hand copy from 1973 that has lovely heavyweight paper and is even stitched together rather than glued. Judith Viorst had written a whole series of these books of poems covering life's little, and not so little, annoyances and charting the ups and downs of human relationships with wry humour and astute observation. 

This book takes us from the post honeymoon stage:
"If I quit hoping he'll show up with flowers, and
He quits hoping I'll squeeze him an orange, and
I quit shaving my legs with his razor, and
He quits wiping his feet with my face towel, and
We avoid discussions like
Is he really smarter than I am, or simply more glib,
Maybe we'll make it."  (Maybe we'll make it, p.19)

via money worries:
"Once I believed 
That the only kind of marriage I could respect
Was a spiritual relationship
Between two wonderfully spiritual human beings
Who would never argue about money
Because they would be too busy arguing about
Great literature and philosophy." (Money, p.39)

European holidays:
"I am (where else?) at the Deux Magots
Moodily drinking a pernod
And trying to think thoughts
Jean-Paul Sartre would respect
And trying to convey the impression
That I am someone with a rich full inner life
Instead of someone
Who gets palpitations
When the washer-dryer breaks down." (In Paris, p.56)

and imaginings of infidelity:
"My pulse quickened,
And I could imagine ...
Cryptic conversations.
Clandestine martinis.
Tumultuous embraces.
And me explaining
That I can't slip away Thursdays because of cub scouts.
And that long kisses clog my sinuses." (Infidelity, p.67)

all the way to worries about their children's adolescence:
"Our sons are growing up
And any day now
They'll be doing their own thing,
Telling it like it is,
Denouncing the military-industrial complex,
And never trusting anyone over thirty,
Even parents
Who tried agitation
Before they did,
And Alienation
Before they did,
And never trusted anyone over thirty." (The Generation Gap, p.69)

While many of the references are wonderfully dated, making it a beautiful period piece of sixties writing, many of the thoughts are timeless and it is comforting to think that forty years on people are still concerned with the same things. It's not great poetry but it is witty and amusing and kept me entertained several evenings.
(note: this was purchased just before the new year and so is ok for the triple dog dare.)

1 comment:

Thanks for stopping by. Thoughts, opinions and suggestions (reading or otherwise) always most welcome.


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