Today over my honey nut cheerios and hot chocolate, I was reading Kenneth Silverman’s Edgar A. Poe, A Biography: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. Light breakfast fare, right?
The story is that I gave a copy of this very book to my sister-in-law, Beth, for Christmas, not because she is an Edgar Allan Poe buff, but because of the Poe/Baltimore connection (Poe is buried in Baltimore) in which I thought she’d be interested. Plus, on January 19, 2010, Poe would have been 201 years old, so what better time to get reacquainted with one of the most famous and second only to John Waters as the creepiest Baltimorean of all time? When Beth opened the book she asked if I’d read it, and I replied, sheepishly, that I hadn’t, but that I would, and I am now making good on that promise.
What little I know of Poe is this: (1) His Baltimore home is in a really not-so-nice neighborhood. (2) He coined the often used word ‘tintinnabulation.’ (3) I would think twice before hiring him as a builder (you never know what you might find later in those walls).
So I’m reading the bio, in which E.A.P. is now about 3 years old, abandoned by his dad and orphaned by his mom. He’s living with guardians by the name of Allan. Dig this description of the wife, Fanny:
“She busied herself sewing, purchasing rugs and mirrors, ordering fruit cakes or quarts of strawberry ice cream and custard…the many spelling errors in her surviving letters suggest a limited education…Although often flirtatious and high-spirited, Fanny was also chronically subject to accidents (at one time she fractured her face) and to illnesses that her family and friends believed were often imaginary.”
The notes, appendices, and index in this book go on for more than 100 pages, but oddly there is no reference to anything like The Comprehensive Life and Times of Accident-prone Homemaker Mrs. Fanny Allan, so I can only assume that Silverman put together this ridiculous caricature of poor Fanny based on scraps of letters, records of belongings, and assorted 19th century receipts.
I cringe to think, were my children to become famous at some point, what such research might turn up on me 200 years after the fact. Something, I presume, like this:
“Mrs. Scheir busied herself playing tennis, watching Tivo, and, at the advice of her friends, purchasing red shoes and ‘bling’…the many references to Jack Bauer on her surviving blog entries suggest an unhealthy affection for a flawed and fictional man…Although often externally cheerful and active, Cheryl was chronically subject to bouts of laziness and idleness (she once went 5 days without getting up from beneath her electric blanket) and to blathering talking jags that her family and friends thought were not only repetitive but wholly pointless and tiresome.”
Of most concern to me is the possible discovery of a note from the children that is now residing on a magnet board in my dining room. It reads,
“HELP! Will Die if not interjected with Love by Mom and Dad!
-Hayley and Jake
Oy. My historical reputation is shot.