Mimi Smartypants

Over the past two days, while I was supposed to be refereeing a manuscript for a university press, I read two years worth of Mimi Smartypants’ online diary. I love Mimi. There is nothing about Mimi I don’t like. I love her four year old daughter Nora too. My friend Meg says Nora is sometimes like Eila. This is true. They’re both smart, and both… shall we say… assertive. Assertive isn’t the only way of being smart, but in these two girls the smartness and the smartypantsness are connected.

Yesterday Eila said, at dinner, “Mummy, am I not good and kind and nice?” I said, “oh yes, Angel, you are good and kind and nice! Why do you ask?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I didn’t know. Nobody ever told me.” Could this be true? No way it could be true. That night we read the first chapter of Ramona the Pest, and Eila was shocked. “I would NEVER behave that badly on my first day at kindergarten.” Of course she wouldn’t. She is good and kind and nice. But I don’t ever want her to lose her edge.

Here are the things I want to say to Mimi:

1. Yes, it’s fine to have just one child.

2. I too can’t get a good haircut because I can’t speak hair. I too emerge from the salon looking just okay, and have no idea what to do the next day with the bits of fluff sticking out of my head. It happens every time. Except once, I had the hair experience of which we hair-illiterates dream: a young gay man fluffed it up, said, “I know exactly what you need, you will look marvelous,” and sent me away after three hours of solid work looking so intensely good that after a half hour of staring at myself in the mirror with my mouth open, I flew to California and got a job. Unfortunately this took place in Israel but, Mimi, if you ever find yourself in Jerusalem, go see Asher Mintz on Bezalel Street. You will not be sorry.

I did get the referee’s report off, yes thanks. It was soundly critical. I’m continually accepting these assignments, and continually turning things down. Every now and then I have a who-am-I-to-wreck-this-fellow’s-life? moment, but more often I wonder, given all the crummy books and articles pouring off the academic presses, if there’s anyone else left out there who doesn’t let such moments affect their better judgement.

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5 thoughts on “Mimi Smartypants

  1. Say what you like, but you’re no hair-illiterate, my dear. Your hair suits you very well (tufts and all). But if you’re unhappy with your haircuts back in Claire-ville, I can recommend an awesome hair artiste in the arts colony in Pomona upon your return. She’s super cool – I feel cooler just being around her (and you know I ain’t cool).

    As for the critical referee’s reports, I’m with you! Less crap – more quality is what we need in academic presses (and journals!) in general. And just because you give someone a critical review doesn’t mean you’re ruining his/her life. You’re making these people better scholars. I applaud you!

  2. Not good and nice and kind: well, whether or not someone has failed to tell her that she is this, she is starting a phase of ‘internalization’; from the assertive, very alive little person, to a deepening of interiority (that sometimes comes at an affective cost), we pass, many of us. It’s a good thing; may constitute what ‘analysis’ calls a ‘narcissistic wound’, the likes of which we all carry around. But it seems largely inevitable, and possibly more powerful in its impact on girls.

    Whose lovely hands are those with the cigarette?

  3. Thanks on both counts, shhhhh! I know what you mean about feeling cooler just to be with a cool hair person. Entering Asher Mintz you leave the war zone called Jerusalem and find yourself at a surreal LA pool party. Indescribable.

    Ant, ya, either that or she’s fishing for a compliment. Or both. Ya, a tiny wound is there, somewhere. I do praise her for kindness, quite often. But not niceness; it’s not a quality I value. So sweet about the hands!

  4. It would probably take a long tedious rambling post, or a semester of therapy dedicated strictly to this, to plumb the depths of why I find your experience with Asher Mintz on Bezalel Street so titilating. But to stick to what seems to me to be the most immediate, you may know that I’ve always been a metrosexual-wanna-be. And at this point in my life, I’m hatching plans for self-re-invention. These plans begin with the assumption of man-hair. But, this is really looking like a bridge too far. The fundamental problem is that in order to accomplish this, I’ll have to establish a relationship with a hair-care professional. I tell tales in class, especially to freshfolk, about how awkward making small talk with hairdressers and, gulp! barbers has been for me. But, the problem is deeper – or shallower, depending on you perspective – than that. If I am to be shorn, here and now, I really do need a special doo. And so it is that, in this backwater, I need to establish a relationship with someone like Asher Mintz, if that’s at all possible.

    Of course it is all about the skills; but, in my experience, only certain persons can really be counted on to possess those skills. When it comes to positive experiences of hair care, 4 out of 5 (by which I don’t mean 80% – there have only been 5 positive experiences!) were at the hands of gay men. My problem in this place is how do I find such a man? Not surprisingly, I don’t come across many great heads of hair, since most of my time among other people is from the university and the rest is among people such as might hang out at such places as Eddies. (Oona, you remember the time we went there, don’t you? You remember that my hair was the cause of an awkward moment?) So, short of finding someone to whom I might say, “you’ve got a great head of hair, who is you guy?” I’m left with talking to men with decent hair and asking, “you’ve got a nice haircut, tell me, is your hair dresser gay?” I don’t think that is going to produce the desired result, nor is it likely to help my reputation at school. It occurs, my significant other (Vivian) likes the local gay bar; perhaps we will have to become regulars there. Looking for Mr. Goodhair?

    PS – a woman on the bus today made a point of smiling at me and saying that she liked my hair and she seemed ok and wasn’t unattractive.

  5. Hello there,
    I need a haircut badly – I am a Fulbright on a mission in Israel: find a haircut that makes me feel human again! I am tired of my grad student looks and of feeling completely unkept while riding the 18 bus.
    I saw your blog and the responses it got on Asher Mintz and I am now waiting for Sunday so that I can call and get a haircut – I anticipate my whole stipend will go on paying for his services… But the gods know I need a new do. Ooohhh yes they do.

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