By: Kimberly Brock
Before we get to the point, first you have to really understand where my love affair with Gone with the Wind began. It’s going to be hard for you to really grasp this if you can’t recall a day in your life before the VCR. My childhood years were measured by the yearly showing of Gone with the Wind on the local TV channel.
Once a year, I got to see Vivien Leigh flounce across the front yard in that white dress with the little red sash. I got to see her roll her eyes and purse her lips and sass and flirt and stomp her way through three hours of melodrama, doing all those Scarlet things that looked to me like getting away with a lot. And for a girl like me, who aspired to portray Mary holding the baby Jesus in my church’s yearly Christmas musical and never got away with anything, it should have been nearly impossible to like her or identify with her, let alone love her. Yet, I did.
Here’s how much I loved Scarlet: I spent almost every Saturday I can recall playing in my grandmother’s old square-dancing slip, fastened at my waist with a huge safety pin. It was white cotton, with flounces. Really flouncy flounces. Sound familiar? I rolled my eyes and pursed my lips and sassed and flirted with imaginary Ashleys and Rhetts. I stomped all over the farm, staking claim to our land.
And then I grew up and forgot all of this silliness, assigning it to the little box of cute childhood memories I sometimes trot out to make funny, southern-girl small talk with new writer friends who enjoy my twangy accent.
I’ve been to the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta for author events. I’ve wondered at her dinky apartment. I’ve smiled, knowing she was an eccentric, feeling connected or wanting to believe we might have been pals. Peg and me, we’re BFFs. (If really knew her like I do, you’d know that’s what we call her.)
If you pull up her Wikapedia page, it says, “An imaginative writer from a precocious age.” See, there. Proof we’re peas in a pod. Funny, that’s how I thought of Scarlet, too. I wonder if some writer will ever read what I’ve left behind and think the same of me. If you do, trust me. We would have been pals.
After I married, I tried to watch Gone with the Wind with my husband and it ended in one of our first fights. I found myself passionately defending Scarlet and condemning wimpy Melanie and whiny Ashley and all the rest. I was shocked that my dear spouse could not understand my love of the hateful, selfish, lying, conniving main character. And more than that, I was horrified to realize, on all counts in regards to Scarlet’s character – or lack, thereof – he was actually right on the money.
Still, I felt betrayed. It seemed to me that if he could not understand Scarlet or appreciate her plight, he could not understand me! Not that I had pined over my best friend’s husband or married and gotten my sister’s fiancé shot through the head, out on the Decatur Road.
I couldn’t put my finger on my undying devotion to Gone With the Wind. In the end, as usual, Rhett didn’t give a damn and I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend too much time inspecting my feelings once the film ended. I did not divorce my husband and life moved on. Fiddle dee dee.
However, I now realize a thing that should have been clear to me all long. (Yes, tomorrow is another day, but that’s not what I mean.) What I realize is this:
. . .
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