Miss Otis Regrets

Jan 1, 2018

Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today,
Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.
She is sorry to be delayed,
But last evening down in Lover’s Lane she strayed.
Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today. .

Cole Porter started this song with a picture of a conventional society girl but then he surprises you with a lurid tale of love gone wrong and tragic consequences. The story goes that the actor Monty Wooley bet Porter he could not write a song with the title Miss Otis Regrets. Porter took the challenge and the song ended up the hit song of 1934. It was recorded many times in coming decades by singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, Marlene Dietrich, and Linda Ronstadt.

When she woke up and found
That her dream of love was gone,
She ran to the man who had led her so far astray.
And from under her velvet gown
She drew a gun and shot her love down,
Miss Otis regrets, she’s unable to lunch today.

When the mob came and got her
And dragged her from the jail,
They strung her upon the old willow across the way
And the moment before she died
She lifted up her lovely head and cried,
Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.

So we begin a New Year of blogs.

My wife Jane sang this ditty at a tap dancing recital a few years ago, When she reached into her dress to pull out the gun and shoot her lover down you could have heard a pin drop. The oldster audience (and a few youngsters) gave her a standing ovation.

Cole Porter was bisexual. He wrote dense, popular, and sexy lyrics and musicals. Jane and I often test each other’s memory for Cole’s songs.They have a staying quality.

As for Miss Otis Regrets it’s a good example of Oscar Wilde’s quip that ”life copies art.” Thirty or so years later a middle-aged “lady” competed with O.J. Simpson for the crime of the century. Jean Harris was the lady–a headmistress at a fashionable girls school in Virginia. She shot and killed her lover–a famous cardiologist in Westchester County and author of bestselling diet books, Herman Tarnower. Tarnower, like the lover of Miss Otis, had multiple sexual partners and didn’t conceal them from Harris.

The circumstances were almost identical to the mythical Miss Otis, except Jean escaped the mob and the hanging. Instead she got 25 years to life in prison. And this sentence was then reduced to 12 years by New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

The blame (or praise) for this change in punishment should go, in part at least, to modern feminists. Led by people like Andrea Dworkin, Katharine McKinnon, and Margaret Atwood (author of the popular and very sensitive The Handmaid’s Tale) they are fiercely opposed to pornography, pro-lesbian, against prostitution, pro-LGBTQ sex, and against all male dominance.

i don’t knock the Radical Feminists, but I do like my feminist friends who are not as radical. They tend to be more liberal, for sexual freedom, female pleasure, open marriages, affairs within marriage, are soundly pro-LGBTQ, anti-religious, and are generally not offended by pornography (in fact they, with some exceptions, often like it). They often are hurt by infidelity but they also are aware that it takes two to tangle and they tend to be tolerant.

As a defender of pornography and steadfast opponent of conventional religion it’s not hard to decide which kind of feminist I favor.

I also favor the courage and panache of Miss Otis last words. I dearly hope I can do as well.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President, Hawkhill

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