In my heyday I wrote a couple papers on books. Turns out that when you pursue a BA and an MA in English you have to read a little bit and then make sentences about those books and give them to a professor so s/he can tell you how you were using semicolons incorrectly. Then when you finally master the art of the semicolon, you get to put on a robe and play pretend that you’re as ready for life as the people who majored in business.
For all the tens of poems and books I’ve read, though, the one that actually exposed me to real life was one that my Mimi read to me in bed when I spent the night with her: Eloise. Apparently there are movies about Eloise now, but I’ve been too busy since 2000 knowing things about Hamlet and Beowulf to bother seeing them, so let’s just talk about the original.
Here’s my thesis: Eloise, a six-year-old living at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in the mid-1950s, is more ready for the world than I’ll ever be. I’m probably not supposed to be writing in the first person since this is an academic assessment, but I’ve got the book out open next to me while I’m writing this so any credibility I could have lost is regained by my complete seriousness and commitment to this treatment.
First of all, Eloise takes pride in what she can do and therefore breeds confidence in those around her and her scant abilities1. Her marketable skills include but are not limited to: chewing gum, hopping around for a while, braiding her turtle Skipperdee’s ears, standing on her head for the longest amount of time, standing on her toes, getting dizzy and falling down, and making a terrible face.
Although she could use her time in perfecting these skills, she has an incredible sense of duty towards the minutiae of the place she calls home. Par example, “Then I have to go down to help the Switchboard Operators in case there are any DAs and there has to be some sort of message taken or something like that.” Just so you know I’m not making this up and taking that one example out of context, here’s another one: “I have to help the busboys and waiters get set up in the Crystal Room [.] They always wait until the last second for Lord’s sake and then we have to rush our feet off.”2 Despite the fact that most of Eloise’s daily tasks are tedious and boring, she does them anyway with a healthy amount of complaining. In contrast, I am way too passive aggressive towards doing the laundry and getting the baby to eat carrots, so I will probably implode. Or just take my frustrations out in blog posts3.
Secondively, Eloise makes people serve her and she supports local entrepreneurs. I’m just going to gloss over that first part if that’s OK. By expecting the Red Sea to part when she marches in, she shows that she is in control. She’s basically Janet Jackson.4 Admirable. Now on to the second part. The characters in her fleet of handlers include but are not limited to:
a. Nanny, her English nurse and mostly companion
b. Philip the Andoveran, her tutor
3 I mean c. Vincent, her barber
d. Thomas, her waiter at the Palm Court
Except for Thomas, it’s pretty clear that all of Eloise’s assistants are free agents, and Thomas has a Corvette so he’s clearly doing well enough to overlook the fact that he’s serving The Man5. I admire Eloise and her rumored mother for not supporting the machine by attending a big box nursery school or Fantastic Sam’s. I wish I had the discipline to be such a localvore, but alas, Target exists and I am a married white woman with a child and well you know. Finally, we have reached Point Number Three of my thesis, which if you’re following along on the outline I had to turn in like seven months ago, should either be III, C, 3, or K if ya nasty6. It could actually be a subset of Point Number One but since I need to have a three point thesis we are going to pretend that this one is wholly unique and genius. It is this: that Eloise has her priorities straight and serves others at the expense of the tidiness of her living space. She gives absolutely no indication of remorse that her room is a train wreck. Her duties concerning the well-being of her dog Weenie, the aforementioned7 Skipperdee, and her dolls Sabine and Saylor supersede the order of her room. She resists every inclination to worry about her room because to do so would distract her from the pressing needs of those in her care. In contrast, it has taken me close to two weeks to write this blog post because of my currently undiagnosed OCD and its pertinence to the mopping of my kitchen floor. As much as I want to be Mama Emily and provide you all with thought-provoking reading material that powers you through the day, I simply cannot. My life seems to just get in the way. I wish I were more selfless like Eloise.
In conclusion, I just wrote an essay about Eloise. I extrapolated points from the book and described how they pertain to my life. I attempted to use correct grammar and I ignored the little jaggedy red lines when I made up words. I did all this because I pay back an ungodly amount of money each month on my student loans and I feel as though I should be putting my skillz to work. I probably didn’t do a very good job of describing how incredibly wonderful Eloise really is. Please don’t fault me for this, though, because it’s hard to comment on perfection without detracting from it.
1Actually, most of the characters who populate the Plaza fear to see her coming but don’t you think that the first point that I wrote sounds good? I do, so I’m not going to change it. Also, I really wanted to make some footnotes, so here you go.
2Should that have been a block quote?
3Sentence fragment. Tsk, tsk; it’s a good thing I know how to use semicolons. Oh wait.
4So maybe not really BUT STILL.
5“The Man” being Eloise.
6Why am I making so many early-career Janet Jackson references?
7Strunk and White definitely said to use this word often to indicate that the writer has done her fair share of book lernin.
To reward you for reading the footnotes, here is a picture of Eloise and Weenie.
Thompson, Kay. Illus. Hilary Knight. Eloise. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955.
*A note on the bibliography: I hope you appreciate all the work I did to kind of put this in MLA format. I probably did it wrong anyway, but make no mistake that effort was made.