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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Petit Déjeuner avec Petite Lassie  

Yesterday, after our morning leash-less walk through Fort Greene Park (during which we heard no less than 5 times that our dog looked like "a little Lassie"), we found ourselves on the opposite corner of the park at the be-leashing hour. So we lashed Sophie down and went a-hunting a little eggs and bacon.

We happened on the charming Ici. Before the door was a tiny sub-sidewalk patio with one table and no chairs. I went in to see if we might be served on the patio, as we were with canine. Inside, I was drawn back to an elegant little dining garden. There, lounging with his bipedal companions, was a white lab mix who'd been running in the park earlier. I asked the waitress if I could bring my dog through the restaurant to the garden. In a heavy French accent she said, "But of course – as long as he gets along... he is, you know, not a fighter."

I had poached eggs on rounds of polenta in a bed of stewed tomatoes. And Brad and I shared an order of half-inch thick French-style bacon. Perfect!

Our waitress told us she was from Paris and what we could expect from November weather in Nice. After she'd gone, we talked about our upcoming trip and wondered if we should take Sophie along. Then we wondered if people there would tell us our chien looked like "une petite Lassie" – do the French know who Lassie is? Surely they must if they know who Jerry Lewis is, I reasoned.

When the waitress returned, we asked. "But of course! Brave and so smart! My boyfriend, he says Lassie could bring him his pot of coffee in the mornings! She is from German stories, no? Or perhaps British?" I was stunned: Had the French disassociated her from her All-American-ness in order to embrace her?

Back in Jolie's former apartment – now empty but for our suitcases, a thin mattress-topper on the floor, a television, and the all-important wireless modem (the new tenants arrive tomorrow) – I searched for Lassie's origins. I found a fascinating history of Lassie from the Museum of Broadcast Communications: Lassie first appeared in an American publication, in a short story written by a British author. I especially liked this from the museum's entry:
Lassie increasingly became a mythic embodiment of ideals such as courage, faithfulness, and determination in front of hardship.... Along the way, Lassie's mythic function moved from being the force uniting a family towards a force uniting a nation.
And I thought of Joe's comments when I read this:
Lassie became a staple of Sunday night television, associated with "wholesome family values," though, periodically, she was also the subject of controversy with parents' groups monitoring television content. Lassie's characteristic dependence on cliff-hanger plots in which children were placed in jeopardy was seen as too intense for many smaller children; at the same time, Timmy's actions were said to encourage children to disobey their parents and to wander off on their own.
Ahhh, but of course – that's what I liked about those Lassie shows!


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