My seventh grader recently read S.E. Hinton’s classic teen novel, The Outsiders, in her English class. Did you read that book in your youth? Did you cheer on the rough but loyal greasers? Love gentle, sensitive Ponyboy Curtis, who would rather read than fight? And did you, like my daughter Tigger, memorize the Robert Frost poem that Ponyboy recites to his ill-fated friend Johnny?
Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Remember what Johnny said before he died? “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” Yeah, I read that book 30 years ago but it still brings a tear.
Tig’s current obsession is Rent, the film of the Broadway musical by the same name, set in New York City, 1989. It’s about love and art, and living with rather self-serving “ideals” rather than responsibilities. Mostly it’s about AIDS. Medical treatment has changed the landscape so much that we’ve all forgotten what it was like then–a diagnosis was not a nuisance but the promise of an imminent and horrible death. Is it any wonder the feckless characters in this show live “la vie boheme,” with little interest in building a future?
Tigger has watched the dvd over and over. I’m not sure why she likes it so much. Maybe it looks like fun and freedom to her, living in a slum, not paying the rent because you don’t have any money because you don’t have a job because you’re an artist. But poverty isn’t romantic. It’s just dreary and hungry and cold.
I’m returning that dvd to Netflix tomorrow, Tigger. You’ll have to find something else to do with the next 525,600 minutes of your life. But I’m glad I watched it. This is my favorite scene. Collins and Angel are so happy to be together, even though they’re both doomed.