Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Very Old Memory

The first, last, and only time my mother took me to the movin' pitcher show we saw "Gone with the Wind." I was only nine or ten years old.

This is the closing scene right before intermission. (Yes, kiddies, they had intermissions in the middle of movies back in the Dark Ages.) Scarlett is roaming around in the fields bemoaning her fate. She spies a carrot that the Yankees haven't stolen and digs it up.

At this point the shot goes into silhouette and you see Scarlett's hands go to her mouth, then she quickly leans over and her head bobs and shoulders shake.

My nine-year-old brain couldn't quite process what exactly was going on and I was confused. I knew it would take longer than a quarter second to gnaw down a whole carrot. Then it looked like she was spitting it back out so the whole scene made no sense to me. Thus my question.

So, when the scene ends and the lights come up for intermission, I asked Mom, "I don't get it Momma. Did she eat the carrot?"

My mom, still staring ahead at the now blank screen, replied tersely, "She ate it hungrily." And that was all. Nothing else.

Hungrily. She distinctly enunciated each syllable like a caller at a spelling bee. Hungrily.

I thought that was a rather odd response to a nine-year-old.

That moment, frozen in time, has been lollygagging around in the back of my brain for lo these many years. On the rare occasion when the word 'hungrily' might have a reason to fire across my synapses, this scene flashes in my head.

Today was one of those days.

Process notes:
Found a clip of this scene on-line. Discovered when Scarlett delivers her line she is not holding the carrot, she is facing the camera in close-up (not looking away in a long shot as I remember), and the gnarly old tree is on the other side of her. Oh well, so my memory isn't so good. I am old and decrepit.


john.p said...

Great story! I like your version with the carrot better than the screen version. Good response from your Mom. A tougher explanation was needed from my wife's Mom. When my wife was about your story age, Mom took the five kids into town for shopping and a movie. Never heard of the new movie release but in Hays, you had one choice only and it was: Psycho! How does one explain Bates and his motel to your grade school aged kids? Wish I was there.

Speck said...

Oy. Five kids having nightmares for months. Oy.