Khanh the Killjoy

Whitewashing the 60s

Going Vintage - Lindsey Leavitt
"‘Don’t whine to your spouse about your daily troubles. He’s had a harder day providing for you and your children.’ This is what you’re aspiring to? To be some guy’s house slave?”

Ginnie hops out of her seat. “I hope you’re not romanticizing this too much. That prefeminist movement crap is scary.”

“What do you know about the feminist movement?” Um, what did I know? I’d meant to read some books on that too, but when I thought of old feminists, I thought of armpit hair and bra burning and lots of angry, political yelling, which is not nearly as fun as party dresses and school clubs.

This book is vapid, at best. It's cute, sure, if you don't really want to think about it too much. There was a lot lacking from this book, mainly, depth. The main character comes off as a whiny, selfish child who can't stop crying, instead of an actual young woman growing up and trying to overcome her heartbreak in a realistic way. It tries too hard to be cute, and the "vintage" premise was executed so halfheartedly that there was really no fucking point.

There is a love triangle involving two cousins, a insipid, whiny 12-going-on-16 main character, who can't stop thinking about ME ME ME ME ME ME. Her sister. Her mother. Her grandmother. They need to pay more attention to poor wittle Mallory.

If she has time? Doesn’t she get what I’m telling her? [Grandma] has changed, and not for the better. I know she’s still dealing with the loss of Grandpa, but we’re all dealing with something, and she should be more aware of that. More aware of me.

This is what I want to do to the main character.

This is the story of a girl who decides that life would be REALLY, REALLY AWESOME IF SHE WENT VINTAGE. That is, live life as she would if she had been a teenager living in 1962.

Let's see, let me rack my brain. What was life like in the 1960s?!

- Sexual inequality! Women made 2 cents (a rough estimation) for every dollar a man made. Why hello, there, Don Draper, how you doin'?!
- Segregation! If you're black, get back! To the back of the bus, that is. Don't touch the white-only drinking fountains!
- War movements! The Vietnam war and shit, give peace a chaaaaaaaance, man! All those war protests in Berkeley and throughout the country? Whatever.

Mallory? Fuck all that shit. For her, the 1960s means wearing pretty vintage clothing and be secretary of a pep club! Not the president, just the secretary. That's the woman's place, after all!

The Summary:

"I am so over this decade, this century.”
“I don’t think this century is your problem.”
“You’re right. Technology is the problem.”
“But you’re using technology right now,” Ginnie says.
I hold my phone out, giving the gadget a look of severe disgust. I switch to speaker, so I don’t have to get too close to The Battery-Operated Evil. “Yep. And do you know what cell phones cause? Cancer....And people die texting while driving. They’re villainous contraptions. Computers? Oh man, Internet predators lurk, lurk, online."

Mallory has the most wonderful boyfriend in the world. Jeremy is a dream come true, even if his cousin, Oliver is pretty awesome, too! I mean, right in the beginnig, we get this lovely little passage about dear ole Oliver.

I don’t know much about Oliver, but who does? I think that mysterious aloofness is part of his image. He was nice enough to give me a birthday card that night with a twenty-dollar gift card to Outback. Outback? That’s the way to get in good with your cousin’s girl.

It's not like it's a hint that Oliver's going to be the future love interest while she's still dating Jeremy or anything, no! *rolls eyes*

AAAAANYWAY. Jeremy's the most wonderful boyfriend in the world. I mean, he's good-looking, he makes fun of how much she eats.

“Really? You’re hungry?” he asks. “Even after Pizza Hut?”
“That was lunchtime.”
"You had two slices. I swear, on the weekends you eat more than the entire wrestling team.”

He makes her do his homework for him. This guy is a keeper. Best. Boyfriend. Ever.

So it comes as a total blow when Jeremy does something like cheat on Mallory with an online girlfriend. That's right, Jeremy the Amazing Asian Tool has a SimCity-like account, where he's been slutting it out with an avatar named BubbleYum. Mallory is furious. She "hacks" into his "FriendSpace" account, exposes him for the cheating cheater he is, and breaks up with him. And then she gets tons of hate messages blaming HER for their breakup.

Clearly, technology is to blame. Evil, evil technology.

“If Jeremy didn’t have a computer or the Internet, he wouldn’t have met BubbleYum. If I didn’t have this cell phone, strangers couldn’t text me threats. Technology is the reason my life is falling apart.” My voice rises. I’ve never felt this passionate about anything before—the world, or my world at least, is suddenly so much clearer, like everything before was a big surface float, and now, for the first time, I’m diving into the deep end of life.

Uh huh. So dramatic. Much passion. Wow. Solution = go back to the past, specifically, 1962. Mallory finds a list that her 16-year old grandmother made in 1962, and seeks to emulate it.

Junior Year: Back-to-School Resolutions:
1. Run for pep squad secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous

Uh. Ok. It doesn't quite turn out as planned, because the only thing Mallory has down pat is the clothes. Sixties dresses are so cute! Other stuff...doesn't work quite well. For one thing, she really didn't think the situation through at all. Like how the fuck is she supposed to give up the Internet when she SIGNED UP FOR A CLASS ABOUT THE INTERNET.

“You knew when you signed up for the class that most of this unit involves the Internet.”
I feel close to tears. When I made my oath, I didn’t think about schoolwork or other justified reasons to use technology.

And she throws a fucking fit when her sister Ginnie actually makes her follow through on her promise and bans her from using technology. Who cares about historical accuracy, anyway!

I check out the Industrial Revolution books, but don’t bother with the sixties stuff. I’m worried history will only discredit my sunshiny hypothesis.

And another Post-it note where my alarm clock used to be.
LED digital alarm clocks weren’t available until the mid-seventies, and they sure didn’t have docking stations.
Ginnie’s handwriting is on another note on my now computer-less desk.
Personal computer? Please.

My sister, my insane sister, has removed every bit of technology not available fifty years ago, which basically is all technology in my room. Like my phone. Not my cell, but the cordless landline. Now I have no contact with the outside world.Uh huh. Way to make a plan and not follow through with it. Not to mention, Mallory cheats on both her "vintage" vow and her paper---she plagiarizes from the Internet.

I type Industrial Revolution right onto the main page search engine, and instantly a million possibilities pop up. Thank you. Thank you. Ask and you shall receive. I could probably type in Completed Industrial Revolution Paper and find five reports to combine into one.

So really, what's the fucking point?

It's ok, though, no matter what she does, dear Oliver will always thinks she's so quirky and beautiful and adorkable.

“Because I like being around you.” He’s still looking out the window, and I wonder if he’s focusing on one object when he says this and what that object is. “I probably shouldn’t, but I do. And I can’t say why. I mean, I can think of a bunch of reasons why.”


The way he describes me, like I’m this vapid girl who doesn’t care about deeper things … that’s so off.

Except, it's not off. Mallory behaves like an idiot child.

She cries over hula figures. To clarify, these things you put on your dashboard.

Reaction (over-reaction?): "He has three hula girls on the dash, three more in the back. I wonder what they think behind those vacant smiles, their plastic shells. These are women who will never wear a shirt, who must spend their existence dancing on demand. There’s something so sad about that, about me, about this situation, that the tears come hot and fast."

Mallory is immature. She doesn't think things through. Her reaction to the most minor fucking thing is to pat herself on the back.

I should push a little more than usual, make this something worthwhile. I’m here already, right?
Wow, so this is what follow-through feels like.

She sets a challenge for herself, to "go vintage" only she constantly whines about it, and constantly cheats on it. And her "living dangerously?"

I just need to figure out living dangerously, which might involve eating the cream cheese and sausage mixture Ginnie is presently concocting.
I can do something dangerous.
Or I can take a sewing class at the community center.

Pfffffffffft. To take a phrase from my friend Emily May. This is Sunday School rebellion. It's sad, pathetic, and so insipid it's not even cute.

She doesn't really want to think about the deeper side of the sixties, all she wants to see is the pretty pretty clothes and simple times. She hates it when people don't pay attention to HER. She expects people like her mother and grandmother to know just how she's feeling, and leave her alone when she wants to be left alone and give her attention when she wants it.

“It doesn’t sound fine. Are you sure you don’t want to talk?”
“No,” I say flatly. “It’s okay. I’m okay. Don’t worry.”
Mom pinches her glossed lips together. “If there’s any way I can help—”
“You can’t,” I say.

Her Mother:

She thinks she has a right to know my everything just because she had a forty-hour natural labor with me. My life would be so much easier if she would have just taken that stupid epidural.

There is a constant attempt at vilifying her own mother that I just don't quite get. From what I read, her mother is just the right amount of attentive, only our dear little Sally Mallory here can't see it. She shames her mother for her looks.

When we walk into a store, guys always check out my mom first, taking in her tight body and large chest before noticing that she’s in her forties, not twenties.

Her mother is a hard working mom who is the family breadwinner. She is a caring mom, and Mallory, in her selfish way, can't see it. She constantly complain about her mom not understanding her, when she's doing everything she can to shut her out whenever her mother asks her any sort of question about her life. Mallory comes off as nothing more but a selfish, stubborn, childish girl.

The Romance: There is a love triangle between Mallory, her ex-boyfriend Jeremy, and his cousin, Oliver.

Why am I thinking about Jeremy?
I’m not.
Why am I thinking about Oliver?
I’m not.

She is. She constantly thinks about Jeremy after their breakup, which is annoying, but believable.

I look down at my wedge, and notice the head of lettuce looks like Jeremy’s head, that the bits of bacon could easily be his eyes, the tomatoes his mouth, and—

But meanwhile, she's got feelings for Oliver, too. Jeremy is doing everything he can to get Mallory back, while Oliver plays the kind, understanding, all sorts of supportive friend who wants to be something more.

In order for me to understand the romance, I have to support the characters. I liked Oliver, despite his "hipster" ways, but I can't, for the life of me, understand why the fuck he's in love with the utter birdbrain that is Mallory.

Overall: this book is the equivalent of a 6-year old refusing to eat bacon for a week after reading Charlotte's Web, and the main character has the same mental age. Not recommended.