Pretty, Fleeting and Wild

In high school, when I was desperately depressed and fiercely opposed to romance, I decorated these rain boots.  I painted anchors and birdcages and covered them in quotes from Sylvia Plath and Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I was obsessed with symbolism at the time.  I copied out the quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s about loving wild things, onto the toe of my shoe.

“But you can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then the sky. That's how you'll end up, Mr. Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You'll just end up looking at the sky” (74).

I can’t think of a single female friend I’ve had, starting in junior high, who didn’t have that iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster hanging in their room.  My dorm room may have been the only one on my entire floor lacking Audrey Hepburn’s coy gaze.  I like Audrey Hepburn- I do.  I like Funny Face and Roman Holiday well enough, though I am among the few who think Katharine was the more talented Hepburn.

I can’t take Audrey Hepburn seriously as a representation of a strong woman.  It’s something about the protruding bones, I think.  I’m all for celebrating our different body types, but when skinny becomes sickly, and we celebrate that… then I have a problem.

If I’m completely honest though, it’s not the cigarette, the super skinny figure or even the excessive jewelry that turns me off the Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster.  I can’t handle that poster, because Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my favorite novella.  And the Technicolor film version? It’s one of my least favorite page-to-screen adaptations.  Audrey Hepburn isn’t the Holiday Golightly I envision when I read Truman Capote’s story.  I may have been happier with the film if Marilyn Monroe had been cast, the way Capote wanted…but it’s likely not a question of actress at all.

My favorite part of Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the ending.  It’s rather sad, I suppose, but I’ve always found the mystery enchanting.  The nameless cat disappears and Holly vanishes.  She was spotted in Africa once, but she won’t be coming back.  And that’s what I love the most- the ending is true to the spirit of the work.

Holly is flawed and she is, to her core, a wild thing.  She leaves people looking at the sky.  I think that’s what makes Capote’s story for me.  Holly isn’t a character we should strive to be like, but she is a great character.  I can’t stand the movie, when all of that is thrown out.  Suddenly we’re kissing in the rain, and oh look!  The Cat!  That’s just… not the story at all.

I’ve grown up a lot from the time when I thought relationships were anchors and marriage meant being caged.  I don’t think a wild thing is the best thing to be.  I like happy endings.  I rarely even watch indie films anymore because, as a general rule, they do not end happily.  I really do like happy endings and pleasant love stories but I can’t stand that Breakfast at Tiffany’s was given a Hollywood conclusion.  The movie script ending dilutes the beauty of Capote’s writing.  When I see the poster hanging on countless walls, I see a fabricated version of Capote’s wild and wonderful woman.

My mother gave me a cameo brooch a billion years ago…around the same time I started wearing woolen pea-coats and modestly tailored sweater- style choices likely shaped by Miss Hepburn.  I’ve always worn the cameo pinned to the lapel of my coat.  It was a very pretty thing.  I glanced down a few weeks ago to find it missing.  The pin structure was there, but the cameo itself had vanished.  And I was sad.  I was so sad.  To be frank, cameos have always…freaked me out a bit.  Those ivory profiles are spooky, somehow.  But it was a pretty thing, and a gift from my mother, and I missed it.  Like all pretty things, it was fleeting and wild.  It was real for a time, and now it’s lost.

I think that’s okay.


4 thoughts on “Pretty, Fleeting and Wild

  1. Lydia! Where do I start? I do, of course, agree with you that Katharine Hepburn is more talented… but I am quite biased. Still! Ahh. I have so much love for Katharine. I wrote an essay around a quote of hers earlier in the semester (I was inordinately excited that this was an OPTION). The quote was, “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.” I like this quote especially because Katharine didn’t like the institution of marriage much. But love! Love is lovely! I am most certainly rambling now.

    I have not read the novella. I did see the film version at one point, which I was so-so about at the time, but all in all I am not well informed enough to have a true opinion. But I think it is truly unfortunate how endings (and stories in more general terms) are changed for film in such huge ways.

    And your words delight me so. I cannot form coherent thoughts. I love you!

    • I thought of you when I mentioned Katharine! The Lion in Winter?? FLAWLESS. That quote is flawless, as well.

      Thanks for stopping by, Katherine! You delight me. :)

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