1 Point for the Brontësaurus
The family mythology has it that my 6 year-old brother taught me to read by sharing his homework with me when I was 5. It may be true. I have a clear memory of cutting apart a brown paper grocery bag to practice a spelling lesson with the word “surprise”. On the other hand, my brother was the kind of kid who should have been sent to school with Ritalin in a pez dispenser. The odds are slim that he did any homework at all.
But however it started, reading has always saved me. My parents couldn’t afford kindergarten and when I started school, I barely understood what was going on around me (e.g. I carried all my school supplies around for two weeks in my little leather bag because I didn’t know I that I was allowed to put them in my desk). Since I didn’t speak but was reasonably well-dressed and behaved, I was placed in the Bunnies Group (slow learners with no overt violent tendencies) and then quietly ignored. I would have stayed there — it was a step up from the Ducklings — but after a few weeks of listening to my fellow Bunnies plod through their 3-letter syllables in oral reading, I couldn’t take any more. I broke out in an impassioned delivery of A Duck is a Duck and got moved up to the Busy Beavers. (No, not making that name up.) My academic career was launched. And from there on, I read through my entire childhood- read everything I could get my hands on. Dr. Seuss, Little Golden Books, cereal boxes, Asterix, Nancy Drew, TV Guide, Anne of Green Gables, Harlequin Romances, Little Women, True Confessions magazine. (Really Mom, the bottom drawer? Is that the best you could do?)
And of all the stories and comics and books that I read, Jane Eyre was the best. At 13, I was chubby, awkward and shy. I spent a lot of time praying for the hormones to kick in so I could be interested in boys. And stashing away money for the psychiatrist I would need someday because I knew that I wasn’t. (In the late 70s in rural eastern Canada, realizing the hormones had already kicked in — for girls — was not an option.) And then I found Jane Eyre and fell in love, not with Mr. Rochester or Jane or Charlotte Brontë, but with the idea that a poor, plain, insignificant governess could find love, and overwrought gothic Victorian love at that, because she was smart. I was smart. And I was saved.
I have read Jane Eyre so many times over the years that when I try to fall asleep to my abridged audio edition, I wake up every time the narrator skips a line. I read Emily and Anne Brontë as well, and I have studied enough literature to know that I really should like Wuthering Heights best. But I don’t.
So Humanity’s point this week is for Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre, and for the ridiculous video from Chris Miller and Phil Lord that inspired this self-indulgent post.
The Apocalypse: 10.5