Sunday, January 19, 2014

How Can I Be What I Ain't?

David asked me for some "blue-sky" panorama shots for his Catalina Acupuncture website, so I thought I'd share one here. Such amazing skies we have here. (That's from our front porch, with the corner of our house to the right.)

This week you all get treated to one of my oldest earworms, the song that starts playing in my brain when I encounter the Word-Whore Word of the Week: Ain't.

The song? "I Caint Say No" from the ground-breaking musical, Oklahoma!

Yes, it's a funny song.

But it's more than a playfully clever romp through words that rhyme with "ain't" - caint, quaint, faint, restraint.

Ado Annie is explaining to her friend, Laurey, (played by a very young Shirley Jones there, tagline: More Than Mrs. Partridge! (In an interesting parallel, the same role was played by Florence Henderson on Broadway, better known later as Mrs. Brady. Hmm...)) about the interest men have in her "since she filled out." More, she's saying how much she likes sex.

Yes. She's the original slut. Cheerful and unrepentant about it.

When I watched this show as a young girl when it was first televised - the movie released in 1955, but I was born in 1966 and who knows when I watched it. Maybe around 10? - this scene electrified me. Ado Annie was the first female character that put into words the warm, excited feelings I already had around the idea of sex. Yes! I remember thinking, I would be saying "come on, let's go" also!

The other remarkable thing about this scene is, while it wouldn't pass the Bechdel Test, because they're technically talking about a man, it did feature two women discussing SEX. Ado Annie asks the profound question: "How can I be what I ain't?" So, in many ways, they're actually discussing the social constraints that require them to be good girls ("when a person tries to kiss a girl, I know she oughta give his face a smack") and thwart their very natural desires ("I somehow, sorta wanna kiss him back").

It's meant to be a happy song, so Laurey smiles and laughs - but I love that she's not judging her friend. She feels much the same way. This is sex and romance discussed the way I like it - with a sense of burgeoning possibility and fun.

I caint say no!


  1. Not surprisingly, I've always favored "The Sadder But Wiser Girl For Me".