Positive Pioneer

Last night, Jonathon submitted his dissertation, in full, for approval.  Yay!  This does not mean that he won’t have revisions, however.  It only means that there will be no more research or citing sources.  He has been temporarily approved.  However, he has to wait to be “invited” to commencement.  His adviser should get back to him about that shortly.  The usual wait time?  Twenty-five days.  In twenty-five days I could 1) Lose 5 lbs. – hah!, 2) Drive back and forth across the United States twice, 3) Become a competitive ballroom dancer.  You choose.

To celebrate this monumental achievement, Jonathon picked this musical to watch last night.  This is from the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.    Adam Pontapy (played by the inimitable Howard Keel), is one of 7 brothers, lives in the Oregon Territory in 1850s.  The story opens with him.  Here’s Wikipedia’s synopsis, for those of you great unwashed who haven’t viewed this classic American musical:

In 1850s Oregon, Adam goes into town seeking a wife to run the household that consists of just himself and his six brothers. There he meets Milly, a waitress at a local restaurant. Milly and Adam rush into marriage and immediately return to Adam’s remote ranch in the mountains. As soon as they return home, Adam reverts to his true self: an ill-mannered and inconsiderate slob. Milly meets his six brothers, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank and Gideon, all of whom also share Adam’s love for all things disorderly. Milly decides to reform the brothers and help them change their ways. She teaches them to dance and then takes them to a barn-raising. There, the six brothers meet six girls they like and start courting them. Conflicts arise when each of the six girls turns out to have her own jealous suitor. Upon returning home Adam reads his brothers the story of The Rape of the Sabine Women, inciting them to kidnap the girls and bring them back home with them.

The brothers kidnap the girls and then cause an avalanche to fall and block the suitors’ way, making the brothers’ house unreachable until Spring. The girls are crying and furious by the time they reach the house. An angry Milly scolds the boys and sends them all to live in the barn, and Adam flees up to their hunting cabin in the mountains to live by himself. They live there all through the Winter, but by the time Spring arrives, the girls miss the brothers’ attention and find themselves to be in love. Gideon goes to the cabin and attempts to get Adam to return home by telling him that Milly had a baby girl. A changed Adam returns home to find his wife and newborn daughter waiting for him. The snow clears up and the angry suitors make their way up to the house in the mountains to find that the girls are happy and want to marry the brothers. The story ends with a shotgun wedding of the six remaining couples.

There now.  Are we up to speed?  Good.

My thoughts surround Adam, who deliberately goes into town that fateful day to pick up supplies…and a wife.  You gotta admire this guy’s gumption. He makes no secret of his plans.  The wife of the general store owner scoffs, “You can’t pick up a wife like she’s a sack of meal.”  Oho, you’re wrong, dear lady!  You can.  This scene, in my mind, proves pivotal to the whole movie. He has moxie.  He goes after what he wants:  Milly, a lovely young boarding house cook.  On sight, he knows she’s the one.  Bam!  He’s not going home without a wife, and she fits the bill:  pretty and trim, but not too slim, heavenly eyes, sassy, and so forth.  He is the epitome of Veni, Vidi, Vici.  He is like a backwoods Tarzan, pounding his chest after finding his Jane.  Or is he?

Adam decided he would get a wife when he went to town.  Someone needed to pick up the household duties and create order out of chaos. He planned that some woman would want to marry him.  He believed in himself and his mission.  Milly fit the bill perfectly.  It was like she was set aside for him.  In a way, Adam represents the whole pioneer “can-do” spirit of the West.  He won’t take no for an answer.  In fact, this attitude informs all his actions in the movie.

Where is the line?  I’ve been contemplating this conundrum lately.  Was he thriving on positive thinking?  Did Adam just get lucky?  Or was there something in his attitude that brought Milly to the forefront in the nick of time?  Did he manage to brainwash everyone around him with his determination, or was he following his destiny?  Can we do this in the real world?

Tis a puzzlement.


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