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Quote of the Day - She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms, she was always Lolita. - Vladimir Nabokov
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What Do You Mean? We Didn't Know That! How Were We Supposed To Know?

I read.  Maybe I read a lot.  In fact, when asked how bad my eyesight is from all my reading, I've joked that my glasses are so thick, I can't wear contacts because I wouldn't be able to blink my eyes.  Yes, I wear glasses - or in most cases contacts to satisfy my vanity.  I read so much in law school that in just two years, my eyesight went from 20/200 to 20/700.  I'm practically blind without glasses, which means if the text is about six inches or more away from my eyes, I can't read it. 

It's so bad that I now need reading glasses on top of my contacts.  I can't wait until they come out with a functional pair of bifocal contacts.

I read for fun, for education and for my job.  Most of all, I read because I enjoy learning.  One of my favorite reference books is The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.  It's a great book because it provides context to our world when we all use shorthand to describe things.

Take, for example, referring to a pre-teen woman as "Lolita."  Let me give the punch line away first.  "Lolita" is a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov.  In it, the narrator, Humbert Humbert becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Delores Haze.  He was attracted by the sexually promiscuous girl, sometimes referred to as a "nymphette," and the book became a classic.  It was made into a film twice, once in 1962 by Stanley Kubrick starring James Mason as Humbert Humbert, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne, starring Jeremy Irons.

It's context. 

So, when Woolworth's offered beds for small girls named the "Lolita Midsleeper Combi," you have to wonder whether there was a message or just it was because someone wasn't paying attention.  The "Lolita" bed offered for sale in the UK was advertised as "a whitewashed wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard intended for girls aged about six," according to this Reuters report.  Reuters continues, "'What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either,' a spokesman told British newspapers."

Right.  Furious parents complained and forced Woolworth's to look up "Lolita" on Wikipedia, where the company learned what the term really meant, and pull the bed from the shelves, so to speak.

I'm betting the folks at Woolworth's don't wear thick glasses. 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 13:39 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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