On this first day into the first night of the new decade, a cable channel is running classic Twilight Zone episodes that haunted my adolescence. In reruns even then. For example, “The Eye of the Beholder” in which a beautiful woman (played by Donna Douglas, who latter achieved some fame among baby boomers as Ellie May in the trashy but fun classic The Beverly Hillbillies) is distraught that she remains beautiful after surgery to “standardize” her looks, among a race of people with distorted features who define the norm. And in another episode gorgeous Anne Francis is a mannequin in a department store, we gradually realize, who has a month every year in which she lives as a human being.
And I ached once again with an episode that haunts the book-lover, and partial hermit in me: “Time Enough At Last” featuring bookworm Henry Bemis played by Burgess Meredith. We are told the story of “the best laid plans of mice and men, and Henry Bemis”, the sole survivor of an “H Bomb” attack, who becomes almost suicidal, finds a public library, assembles a lifetime of reading (this moment of hope is captured in the image above), and then accidentally smashes his coke-bottle bottom glasses.
I still gasp.
And this puts my life in perspective.
Events continue to lap at the family ship of state. What should remain constant in this new year are those interests and events that have animated my life in years past — theatre, movies, good writing, the magic of live performance, and storytelling in song. Here’s to more of this in 2010.
© Martha Wade Steketee (January 2, 2010)