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Grandfriends and Disappearing Acts

October 14, 2010

Tomorrow is “grandfriends” day at my son’s school. He does not have a “grandfriend,” so I recruited a friend, who can only stay part of the day. Will he feel like an orphan when she leaves? Yes. But this was the best I could do. Then, to compound matters: sixth and seventh grade parents are in charge of serving lunch. I considered canceling my literature class but tomorrow is the day we are supposed to talk about Alice Walker, Kate Chopin, and Bobbie Ann Mason; we spent the entire last class on Hemingway, Sherman Alexie, and T. C. Boyle. It is time for the women to have their say. But woman that I am, I feel guilty not to be at my son’s school. Thank goodness for my friend who is masterminding the whole grandfriends operation. She says all I have to do is bake cookies tonight and donate some decorative squashes (where, when will I get these squashes?), but I know full well that this is because she and her squadron are making sandwiches for 150, moving chairs around and sticking the decorative squashes on tables. More guilt. And sadness. I would like to be there, too.

Meanwhile, Mary Shelley is working on erasing all mention of herself from biographies of her dead husband. This is not because she is “self-less” as some silly biographers say. She was a single mom; she needed to earn a living; it was the dawn of Victorianism and no one would publish her if she rubbed their noses in the various scandals of her life with Shelley: running away together, illegitimate children, Frankenstein. She was smart; she knew her life story would have to sink from view. So, I have to write many pages about her disappearing act, which also makes me feel sad.

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