“The ‘Flower Girl’ era was a crazy time.”

Teaching a course on the ’60s carries its risks nowadays, and did even twenty or thirty years ago. Readers filter text through their own experience, knowledge, and points of reference; but those filters can be unreliable.

Of course I knew what she meant. But evidently a flower child was hard to picture, while flower girls continue to populate Bride magazines and adolescent dreams.

a crazy time?

Here’s another term from Back in the Day that obviously baffled a student who was trying to apply his own reference points: “Some Vietnam veterans became leaders of so-called ‘rap groups’ which toured the country to open up their feelings and let the public know that they were still alive.”

Some of those veterans must have been the victims of “all the chemicals that were used during the war like Asian-Orange.”

Whatever the case, “People in the War did not deserve the respect they should have gotten.” Okay, that one isn’t a matter of inadequate or erroneous text-filters. It is one of many examples I have where the student’s sense of the idea’s importance outruns the actual sentence, and two perfectly okay sentences (“they did not deserve the disrespect they got” or “they did not receive the respect they should have gotten”) collide and smash together in the writer’s urgency, resulting in an impossibility. You see? I did know what she meant.


About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

One response to ““The ‘Flower Girl’ era was a crazy time.”

  • “She lived under her brother’s reign until she opened up her own salon in Paris.” « You Knew What I Meant

    […] What kind of beauty parlor was she envisioning? Come to think of it, those wigs and hair arrangements of the late 17th and 18th centuries would have fit quite snugly under the hair dryers of 20th century beauty salons. Whatever she imagined, it wasn’t strange enough to make her think twice about how she was defining the term. That means the world of the past becomes an odd hodgepodge of times and things, jostling one another in a juxtaposition that is bizarre only to those who actually know something about the world of the past. For more on this tendency, go to my post on “rap group.” […]

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