Eloise: An Update
July 13, 2014 8:29 PM   Subscribe

I am Eloise. I am forty-six. (Previously, kind of.)
posted by SkylitDrawl (26 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

"Oh my Lord but my life is busy and fulfilling"

Reminds me rather of Chelsea Handler.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:51 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]

Wouldn't Eloise actually be 65 this year, not 46?
posted by yellowcandy at 8:52 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]

And wouldn't Bart Simpson be 37, not 10?
posted by John Cohen at 8:55 PM on July 13

I would love a version where Eloise is 65 and cantankerous and always scams free dinners from fancy restaurants by complaining loudly and sneaks into the Met and takes full carts of groceries through the express lane.
posted by mochapickle at 8:56 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]

*picks up phone* if this is anyone other than Very Mary Kate, you're stealing my bit!
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]

posted by Mchelly at 9:11 PM on July 13

Oooooh, I love Eloise.
posted by Violet Hour at 9:14 PM on July 13

This is making me completely irrationally angry and I need to figure out why.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 PM on July 13 [6 favorites]

It makes me grumpy because I always presumed Eloise would have her shit together as an adult and as such this does not add up at all.

It is rawther clever nevertheless.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:20 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]

I think The Whelk is mad that it's not a Mallory Ortberg piece.
posted by Madamina at 11:00 PM on July 13

This is making me completely irrationally angry and I need to figure out why.

Perhaps "A bottle of Patron Silver costs two hundred dollers" [sic] is why?
posted by cosmologinaut at 11:14 PM on July 13

Pretty damn perfect. Why was Eloise's spoiled, entitled behavior so cute? In real life, it's not.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:29 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


As to 'why isn't this obnoxious in fiction', Eloise's attitude is cute because she is six, and in her babygirl innocence, she constantly gives the finger to the socialite classes and their obsession with rigid social norms and shallow hypermaterialistic values. Kleenex makes a very good hat.

Eloise is poignant and amazing because she's been abandoned to this most shallow of worlds by her parents; she has no adults in her life who aren't paid to be there, no other children to play with and no other materials to build an inner world, so as a creative kid, she plays hide and seek with maintenance workers in light sockets, bonds with her nanny, and makes imaginary games in the elevators while parroting the voice of an older high society woman: six year old Eloise says "rawther" because the pretentious American rich women around her think recieved pronunciation is classy but instead they sound just like Eloise's cockney Nanny. Reading forty-six year old Eloise say it is horrible because she's turned into one of them; the playfulness and awareness is gone. "I am forty-six" Eloise has completely drowned in that society and has lost all of her ability to subvert it except for the sad little flickers of wryness like "Mark-on-the-sidewalk." I don't like the thought that the bright, lonely little girl stuck in that superficial world grew up to be a miserable alcoholic; Whelk, I'm angry at this article too.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:45 AM on July 14 [9 favorites]

This is making me completely irrationally angry and I need to figure out why.

Is it because you thought the New Yorker piece was going to be better written, or that this was some kind of FPP about the original and you feel like you got a bait-and-switch?

That's why I'm a little annoyed myself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 AM on July 14

Eloise was my favorite fictional character ever when I was little and didn't yet realize she was a larval Paris Hilton. I think a huge part of what makes this piece irritating, aside from its lack of charm, is that I have trouble imagining a satisfying grown-up endgame for Eloise. Maybe she's a ditzy, happy, harmless socialite; maybe she's a drugged-up, pathetic socialite; maybe she's got a powerful Wall Street job that involves fucking over the middle class. I'd like to imagine she kept her quirk and curiosity, attended Sarah Lawrence, spent a few years post-college traveling the world and getting lost, and is now moderately famous for writing David Sedaris-esque humor pieces which regularly get published in The New Yorker and are rawther better than this one.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]

I think The Whelk is mad that it's not a Mallory Ortberg piece.

That's why I'm mad! No, really! I was expecting this to be Mallory Ortberg, in which case it would be funny and heartbreaking and a little wry and a little dark, but not nearly so one-dimensionally cynical as this piece.
posted by lunasol at 4:52 AM on July 14

There's also this "is it just me or?" over lay of "oh older women! Aren't they just so trival and silly and gross and pathetic and beneath our contempt cause they have money but don't spend it the right way and have awful hobbies and are dumb and aren't we glad we're not silly trival stupid older women"
posted by The Whelk at 5:18 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]

And maybe that's it. But I'm wondering, too, if the writer is using Eloise to comment more on modern NYC.

In the 1950s, New York was a delightful playground and The Plaza was a grand event with fine food, Louis XV furnishings, treats and sweets, unplanned delights and everything a girl could ask for. But now, the reality for modern NYC hotel guests is a bland Times Square monolith, with a half-hearted menu and daytime teevee blaring underneath the doors. Finding a new color of m&m or spotting Elmo counts as entertainment, and when you're tired of that, there's booze.

Overall the experience is rawther canned. No one's going to film Gatsy at the Crowne Plaza. Kings and princes and movie stars stayed at the Plaza, but to modern NYC tourists here for three days, reality stars are just as exciting.

At least, I'm hoping the metaphor's the writer's point. I love Eloise and I'd be unhappy if her fate were Times Square.
posted by mochapickle at 5:59 AM on July 14

I always imagined Eloise grew up to be Fran Lebowitz.
posted by valkane at 6:00 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]

It makes me grumpy because I always presumed Eloise would have her shit together as an adult

Didn't we all?

I have trouble imagining a satisfying grown-up endgame for Eloise.

She ran with a pretty fast crowd in her teens and as a result spent a pretty good chunk of her early twenties in rehab. But it was all good. She learned a lot about herself there and she got clean and big into yoga and meditation. So she spent a lot of her later twenties and early thirties just sort of traveling around India and Bali and Thailand etc. She met this really great guy in Cambodia—he used to be a session player for REO Speedwagon—and they got married and moved back to the hotel. But the city was rawther too stimulating and then the marriage fell apart so she moved to Taos and opened a yoga and pottery studio which is very popular with the locals in fact.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:39 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]

Madamina: I think The Whelk is mad that it's not a Mallory Ortberg piece.

Dirtbag Eloise? Wait, that's just Eloise.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:16 AM on July 14

Well that was depressing.

Add me to the folks who reject this because Eloise so clearly grows up to be awesome.

On a serious note, moonlight in vermont has it exactly right. The original works because Eloise is funny and clever and optimistic despite being essentially abandoned to her own devices by her mother. As someone with a headstrong six-year-old girl, Eloise (for me) is about making your own life and never settling for how others think you should be - values we want to instill in our daughter to ensure she never becomes a doormat.

Seeing that vivacity wasted in this piece is like reading an account of how Charlie Brown ultimately killed himself after a crippling struggle with depression.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:51 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]

Always sad to see a writer glom onto someone else’s true original and try to riff off of it.* (Some years ago it was attempted with Molesworth, to very bad effect. Billy Bunter ditto. You’ll think of others.) Shows a want of the knack of character creation. Which is kind of problematic for a writer of fiction, esp for the world’s most awesome novelist.

Still- bills don’t pay themselves, and yes, the New Yorker – it does look good on the resume.

(For those who appreciate social satire on our social betters (british version) may I recommend Wry Society, a weekly feature of the Financial Times?)

*The exception to the rule is Flashman.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:11 AM on July 14

Ugh. Now I feel justified for hating The Dogs of Babel so much.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:30 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]

Well, the whole thing's much funnier if you substitute "Heloise" for "Eloise."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:37 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

Kay Thompson considered Eloise to be her alter the point that she wanted to dub in her voice for the TV production.

I picture Eloise as growing up to be something like Auntie Mame.
posted by brujita at 4:27 PM on July 14

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