Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Does Gidget Yet Live?"

Read an obit in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago I guess for Terry Tracy, a surfer nicknamed "Tubesteak" - "another word for hot dog" as the New York Times helpfully explains. He was the basis for the character "The Big Kahuna" in the popular beach movie GIDGET. When Megan Abbott was here on her most recent visit, I suggested that GIDGET (the novel on which the movie is based) might be a good bet for our Doomed Book Club. Megan seemed keen on it. As I have abdicated facebook, however, I found it tough to get in touch with the other Doomed Book Club members. I sent out a tentative tweet. Kelly Hogan "favorited" the tweet, but what does that mean, really, in our strange world of today? I trust Hogan with my life, but I think we all know that "favoriting" a tweet is the thing we can do that has the least bearing on what we might comfortably call "reality." What I am trying to say is that I might be reading GIDGET all alone. I picked up my copy at Square Books today. The late Terry Tracy is the one who gave the actual Gidget that very nickname: "Gidget." When I read his obit, I imagined him (and it is terribly crass and impolite, imagining a person on his deathbed, but this did pop into my head) saying, "Does Gidget yet live?" I had John Adams in mind. I thought John Adams asked something similar about Thomas Jefferson on his own deathbed, but wikipedia tells me that he said, "Thomas Jefferson survives" which in my opinion just doesn't have the same ring to it, oh well. But here's the thing. Gidget DOES live! The New York Times reports of the real-life Gidget, "Ms. Zuckerman now works for the beach restaurant Duke’s Malibu, where her job is to greet guests and reminisce about the old days." The novel is by Ms. Zuckerman's father, but is told in HER 15-year-old voice, which opens up a wealth of Freudian reflections, the kind Megan Abbott loves so much. And suddenly I am reminded of an email I just received from McNeil: "I showed my class an episode of T.J. Hooker today. He kept touching his daughter with his big meaty hands. There was a line at the end a lot like Eastwood's 'make my day' - only 18 months earlier!"