Friday, November 28, 2014

A plastic pool of one's own

The kids in the portable pool on the lawn are rambunctious, but not too, their bodies bright in the sun, the shadows starkly defined. There’s something touching about the little boy’s eyeglasses, like his seriousness: He’s going to enjoy himself, period.
Mom has her own pool and is reading a magazine, either enjoying or improving herself, maybe both. Her arms are propped on the blow-up pool sides, and the bright plaid one-piece bathing suit and sunglasses become her. So do the raised knee and polished toenails. There’s another, empty blow-up pool on a neighbor’s porch, leaning against the wall; it’s hot in Park Forest and everybody’s going to make the best of it when they get the chance.

   At the conclusion of the last war, 800,000 women were fired from jobs in the aircraft, automotive and other industries, to make way for men. Women belong in the home now, using their “pretty heads” to advance their husbands’ careers. They try to look sexy and house-bound at the same time, one-piece bathing suits for beauty contests and for sitting in the kiddy pool in leafy neighborhoods far from a city. Skirts are long, underwear powerfully conforming. Matrons look matronly, but then so do teenagers, many of whom are taking up sewing “two-piece patterns.” Women still on America’s assembly lines look neither matronly nor, even if pretty, remotely like the women on magazine covers who seem to have been poured into molds dusted with pancake makeup, teeth preternaturally white, their auroras of hair luminously, lusciously blonde, their good humor painfully intense.
               (from The Forgotten Fifties)                                                                       
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