A Series With a Happy Ending

I’ve had it with biographies.

There I was, thoroughly enjoying the HBO series on John Adams, and then it all went downhill in the last two programs.  First of all, John (I watched the whole series, so I can call him that) wasn’t re-elected president.  That was very disappointing, especially since he lost to Thomas Jefferson.

I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded, and his estate, Monticello, for six years — and let me tell you, you get sick of hearing about Mr. Jefferson, as everyone insisted on calling him, when you live in Charlottesville.  Every time there was a local crisis — such as what kind of music to play when you’re put on hold at UVA — everybody and his pooch weighed in about what Mr. Jefferson would have wanted.  (Vivaldi was the consensus, as I recall.  Like anybody would have ever put Thomas Jefferson on hold.)

So, anyway, back to John Adams.  His election loss was bad enough.  But then his and Abigail’s daughter, Nabby, died of breast cancer.  Then Abigail herself dropped dead and I was just getting over that when John died.  I even felt a little bad that Mr. Jefferson died, too, on the same day (the fiftieth anniversary of the original Fourth of July).

Hasn’t anybody at HBO ever heard of a happy ending?

This made me recall my previous, unhappy experience reading the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Harry Truman.  It was great till Harry died at the end.  So, to deal with my grief, I went straight on to a biography of Abraham Lincoln, hoping things would turn out better for him.  A mistake, in retrospect.  All of which may explain why I’ve sworn off biographies for a while.  Maybe I should just read bios of people I don’t like.  Roy Cohn and Adolf Hitler come to mind.

But, anyway, I’m wrapped up in TV and other forms of escapism since I’m sick of the Democrats and am trying to ignore the Pennsylvania primary.  Can’t Obama close the deal?  Won’t Hillary go away?  If she won’t go away, won’t she just divorce Bill so we don’t have to put up with him for eight more years?  (This is an idea Eileen Smith came up with on her wonderful (even though it’s pro-Hillary) blog, In The Pink Texas http://www.inthepinktexas.com/ a few days ago, so I can’t claim credit, even though I’d like to.)

All of which leaves me pondering the made-for-TV spectacle going on in my home country of West Texas, with the authorities taking more than 400 children from the religious compound owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Based on my completely non-scientific, but constant, eavesdropping, it seems to me most males I know are complaining about an abuse of governmental authority.  There are worse problems out there!  Isn’t the state making an even bigger mess of things?  What ever happened to allowing people to live as they want?  And so on, blah, blah, blah.

Hold on, guys.  Are you telling me that you can look at that situation — the multiple wives and the child brides — and assume there’s no abuse and coercion going on?  Sure, there are other, terrible crimes going on elsewhere in the state, but does that mean we should ignore this one under the guise of property rights or freedom of religion?  I’m all for the First Amendment and all that, but you’ve got to wonder about any religion that makes a woman dress that badly.  When you haul out the gingham and the braids, it’s no small offense.  I know fashion abuse when I see it.

Abigail Adams would never have put up with it.  Would Hillary?  She can keep the pants suits, but why doesn’t she dump Bill and all her sister wives and leave the compound for good?  They could put the whole saga on HBO and call it Even Bigger Love.  With a happy ending like that, I’d watch it.  I’d even vote for it.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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