Tuesday, July 7, 2015

NOBODY’S PERFECT

In one of the best last scenes of anything anywhere, in response to Jack Lemmon who was playing a man disguised as a woman and desperately trying to get out of an amorous suitor’s gushing declarations of love-you-forever-after, the dialogue went something like –

Jerry: Oh no you don't! Osgood, I'm gonna level with you. We can't get married at all.
Osgood: Why not?
Jerry: Well, in the first place, I'm not a natural blonde.
Osgood: Doesn't matter.
Jerry: I smoke! I smoke all the time!
Osgood: I don't care.
Jerry: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I've been living with a saxophone player.
Osgood: I forgive you.
Jerry: [tragically] I can never have children!
Osgood: We can adopt some.
Jerry: But you don't understand, Osgood! Ohh...
[Jerry finally gives up and pulls off his wig]
Jerry: [normal voice] I'm a man!
Osgood: [shrugs] Well, nobody's perfect!

[Jerry looks on with disbelief as Osgood continues smiling with indifference. Fade out]



 In our world today this may seem outdated. Today we have a male’s male who was an Olympian gold medalist in the most demanding of events, the decathlon, coming out as the most attractive sixty-five year old female to grace any major magazine cover. {I marvel less at her femininity than at how she looks at that age, babe.} Today Osgood could marry Jerry in all fifty states and many countries to boot. But in context (the movie was written in the 1950s) it packed a punch. Not about shifting genders, but about how, so very true, we’re all working on something. Nobody’s perfect, darling.

I was looking for a particular editorial letter I got a few years ago, one of those glorious rejections. (You have to be a writer to get this.)  That letter said I should expand a PB to a novel, with specific suggestions. The editor expressed interest to see it if I do. 
I keep all personal and pertinent rejections, and I’ve accumulated quite a few.

Looking for it, I got distracted by some of the other personal rejections in the file. As I read them, I realized, horror of horrors, a typo by one editor. Then another. In the end I found a few such faux-pas in three letters, not by the same editor.
I thought about how we writers become apoplectic at the thought of having sent a letter or a manuscript with even one misspelled word or a confused homophone. 

But there they were, the their for there and they’re.

All right. I know. I've been guilty of this and worse, especially in online posts  where I didn't give myself the time* to come back and re-read after a bit before posting.  
*(It should be mandatory, BTW. But it would also kill the chat boards and social media sites if everyone waited an hour and then re-read their typed wisdomisms.)

 We are admonished to be careful with our submissions, and we are. We are writers, after all. Words are our thing.

But they are editors, for Pete’s sake. What’s with the typos?

And then I thought about this last line from SOME LIKE IT HOT.

I hope I’m extended the same courtesy, but for now I begin by doing it to others. Nobody’s perfect.

9 comments:

  1. This was a humorous post. I loved that movie when I saw it, and I think some of the lines are brilliant, although you are right. It's a changed world now. As for editor typos, I agree with your generosity, but one also hopes editors can be equally generous.

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  2. God alone. Us mere mortals strive but we'll never attain it until we reach heaven. I like this quote by Michelangelo; "True work of art is but a shadow of divine perfection."



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    1. Amen. I like this quotation from Ibn-Arabi, a Muslim mystic from the 12th century: "The universe's imperfection is part of its perfection."

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  3. A very wise reminder. Thank you!

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  4. Every time I write a post, I look over it a time or two. I'll see nothing at all. Click and publish! The next morning, my dear Hubzam will be reading my post at lunch and find three mistakes, omissions or flipped letters. I just can't proof my own stuff.

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    1. You too? I knew you were a sister...

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  5. I even reread my FB posts because sometimes I type so fast I submit and then I have to go back and edit...embarrassing. But yes, I hear ya!

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  6. This post has gone deep on so many levels, Mirka, not the least of which is the fact that editors are people too.

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  7. Seems like word-carelessness is just the way it is these days. Too many people typing too many words? And thanks for the reminder - we all need to repeat that mantra, Nobody is perfect.

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