I Heart Indies

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back in the Day

My wife chastised me for a detail in my novella, Scoring Bertram Wiggly.  "You mention him wearing a stocking cap.  He shouldn't be doing that.  It's out of place."
She's probably right; I'm not sure when stocking caps went out of fashion for sleep wear; the only mention I'm sure of in literature is in "The Night Before Christmas" which was written in 1822.  I'm pretty sure I've seen Ben Turpin in a stocking cap in an old silent movie, which even then I'm sure was an anachronism, but that's part of the point.
My students have a phrase, "Back in the day," which connotes a vague general sense of the past, no the remote past of powdered wigs nor the even remoter past of stone implements, but an amorphous region of events that took place sometime before they were born, a semi-legendary land before cell phones and internet, and possibly color tv.
Scoring Bertram Wiggly is set "back in the day."  Wiggly drives a Model T, no doubt uses a candlestick phone, and refers to the refrigerator as an "ice box."  He reads in the paper of "dirty doings by the German Chancellor," and reads the funnies - Little Orphan Annie and Blondie.  But the Blondie of his world is different from the one of ours - Dagwood is the son of wealthy parents who disapprove of his sexy blonde girlfriend. (The cartoon has changed much in the intervening decades.)  The last Yellow Fever outbreak is still in living memory.  But he also mentions nylon, which wasn't invented until 1938.
The town Medville itself is a pastiche of stereotypes from a certain kind of B musical - the Italian Barber, the Irish Cop, the Spinster Librarian, the Eastern European Shopkeeper, the Chinese Launderer.  The town never existed, never could have, which makes it the ideal setting for a metafictional riff on muscial comedies, set "back in the day."

No comments:

Post a Comment