I was rereading Fahrenheit 451, for at least the tenth time, because I wanted to add a little exposition on my books page about the mostest bestest story I know. The full exposition on the tale of a Guy I’ll write up soon, but there’s a little side note worth mentioning. That’s my crush on a literary heroine, Clarisse McClellan. When I was almost 17 and crazy, reading the tale for the first time, Clarisse was not important. Sure, her portrayal is quite positive, but Montag and Beatty and even Faber were more compelling characters. She stayed to the side; it wasn’t until the third reading that I even saw Mildred’s casual mention of her death, generally jumping to Beatty. Also, in my aloneness, I was more concerned with high school and college and my personal soul. This time through, though, I thought more about Clarisse, and how attractive she would be. Well, if she were twelve years older, aging like me. Also, if she was a real person. Umm, let’s just move on and summarize qualities. Nothing says cute like bullet points!
- Courtesy. Clarisse asks to walk home with Guy, and gives her full name, first and last. She also knows when to back off and be silent, instead of rushing headlong and painfully into something.
- Sociability. The slow walk, coffee-table conversation, rattling chestnut trees, watching people – those are all wonderful activities. Not like the movie, or the fun park, full of caucophony.
- Wonder and whimsy. Who looks for the man in the moon? Or walks in the rain and tastes it? Or picks late flowers and autumn leaves? My vocation searches for order and structure, which gives me more perspective into when it’s not necessary. Two year olds do not need play dates and art classes, which she knows too.
- Laughter. When did you last hear a relaxed laugh? Too much of what passes for humor is really schadenfreude, pleasure from someone else’s pain or misstep. I can barely watch Jay Leno nowadays. There are still places of joy, like Strong Badia, but they feel as rare as last names on introduction.
- Intelligence. To quote a great show, Smart Girls are Sexy. I can’t imagine spending 25 years with someone I can’t converse with.
I’m watching a Beyonce video right now, called Naughty Girl, and Miss Knowles is extremely physically attractive. Don’t get me wrong. But Miss McClellan, only briefly physically described as a milk-white phase, is so much more beautiful. As I walk the corridors and roads of this fallen land, I’m wistfully searching for my Clarisse. If you know, well, you know how to reach me.