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IN MATRIMONY, ARCHIE'S NO JUGHEAD

WASHINGTON - When the epic news broke that Archie was going to marry Veronica, I knew I'd soon be hearing from Gina Barreca, and I was right. I also knew exactly what Gina, the feminist scholar, was going to say.

Gene: You are outraged at Archie's choice because Betty is sweet and kind and middle class, and Veronica is selfish, scheming and rich. You see this as a validation of your belief that men are shallow and easily manipulated and, above all, that they are always wrong.

Gina: Wrong.

Gene: Naturally!

Gina: I am glad Archie chose Veronica because, unlike Betty, Veronica is not blond.

Gene: You're kidding.

Gina: Not in the least. I am black-haired. Because of my ethnic type, I never had an option to become a blond - I'd look more natural with fur, a snout and a dorsal fin. So, like many dark-haired girls, I grew up with a deep-seated, if infantile, resentment of blonds, for whom life, we believed, was easier. I am delighted Archie chose Veronica.

Gene: Okay, now please explain how this prejudice does not invalidate and repudiate the entirety of your life's work.

Gina: Gladly.

Gene:

Gina: I'm thinking.

Gene: Okay.

Gina: Look, I feel a great sense of connection to women of all nationalities and backgrounds, women in burqas, women in pearls, women on camels, women in palaces and women in yurts, women the shape of Silly String and women the shape of living-room ottomans, women who speak in French and German, and women who speak in grunts and clicks; I feel a connection to all women, and I am their unflinching champion, so long as they are not natural blonds.

Gene: You're dead here. You know this, right?

Gina: I know only that I am human. When injured repeatedly in the same place, our species develops calluses. Calluses are seldom pleasant to look at. If you wish me to apologize for being disfigured, I will not.

Gene: What, exactly, is the nature of this injury?

Gina: The constant reminder throughout this history of Western civilization that female goodness, virtue and beauty are the sole province of the blond. The most brutally honest line of romantic poetry probably belongs to William Butler Yeats: "Only God, my dear, could love you for yourself alone and not your yellow hair." You have mail.

Gene: Excuse me?

Gina: I just e-mailed you something.

Gene: Okay, hang on.

Gina:

Gene: Wow!

Gina: Please tell the people what you are looking at.

Gene: It is a photograph of you at the Grand Canyon around the age of 20. You are posed like a pinup, back bowed, draped on a cliff at the edge of a precipice. You are wearing a loose-fitting top, short shorts and ankle socks. This photograph could rouse a corpse.

Gina: Thank you. I was in college. I was constantly getting dumped for blonds.

Gene: I don't know what to say.

Gina: Say that you are embarrassed for your gender and that you will let me tell a blond joke in your column even though you will probably take some heat for it.

Gene: Okay.

Gina: What do you call a smart blond?

Gene: What?

Gina: A golden retriever.

Gene Weingarten can be reached at weingarten@washpost.com. You can chat with him online at noon Sept. 29 at www.washingtonpost.com.

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