Episode 62: Just Me, Just Me, Dancing Pants

Last episode of season one
Mystery voiceover artist
Best friends
Shel’s relationships
Ursula Nordstrom
Costumed shenanigans

Episode 62: Just Me, Just Me, Dancing Pants Shel We Read a Poem?

Last episode of season oneMystery voiceover artistBest friendsShel's relationshipsUrsula NordstromEggPantsDoppelgängersAgingCostumed shenanigansEpisode transcript: https://laurenhudgins.com/2022/05/02/episode-62-just-me-just-me-dancing-pants/shelwereadapoem@gmail.com@ShelWeRead


Intro music

British Voice: Shel We Read a Poem.

Russ: Hello all and welcome to Shel We Read a Poem. I’m Russ.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren.

Russ: And this is it.

Lauren: This is the end of the sidewalk. It’s Where the Sidewalk Ends ends.

Russ: And our season one comes to a close, such as it is. And fortunately, there’s more Shel books out there.

Lauren: Yeah, plenty. We have two last poems to read to you all for season one.

Russ: And then after this, next week, you will get the final outtakes episode from season one.

Lauren: And we can take a moment to regroup and get ready for season two.

Russ: We have to send a shout out to our voiceover artist, who does not wish to be named, doing her best Queen Elizabeth for our entire first season. That is my prettier half.

Lauren: I cannot believe it. I really can’t. I had no idea until you just told me a moment ago.

Russ: Lauren did not know that for the entire first season.

Lauren: The entire time. I thought he had just paid an old stuffy British lady who does voiceovers on Fiverr or something.

Russ: So look forward to different music and different voiceover.

Lauren: Yes. All right.

Russ: Well, what are we talking about?

Lauren: Why don’t you go first today?

Russ: All right. Then I am doing “Just Me, Just Me”

Sweet Marie, she loves just me
(She also loves Maurice McGhee).
No she don’t, she loves just me
(She also loves Louise Dupree).
No she don’t, she loves just me
(She also loves the willow tree).
No she don’t, she loves just me!
(Poor, poor fool, why can’t you see
She can love others and still love thee.)

No illustration.

Lauren: When I was young I may have thought this was a poem to help people understand that their mother could love their siblings, in addition to the reader.

Russ: And that’s so funny. I thought it was about your friends. Like how your friends would say like, “You’re not my best friend anymore.” And you know, that was like the worst childhood insult.

Lauren: Right. I had three really close friends and would always declare one of them my best friend and then the other two would be really pissed about it.

Russ: And good news, that trend continues to this day.

Lauren: Well, none of my really close friends tend to hang out with each other that much. Well, that’s not true.

Russ: I mean, with little children like elementary school. The best way to incite a second grade drama, “You’re not my best friend anymore.”

Lauren: Ah yes. I remember that. I don’t think I ever really said that, though. I think for me, it was a commitment that I stuck to.

Russ: Laughs. Now what privileges came with being the best friend?

Lauren: I don’t think there were priv… I mean, sitting next to me was probably like… Russ laughs. Also, my best friend didn’t go to the same school as me. It was someone I had grown up with, knowing for all of my childhood. And so there wasn’t daily drama about this. It was only on my birthdays for my birthday party.

Russ: You sit at the right hand of the king.

Lauren: Yeah, well, we couldn’t do right and left because there were three of them. And so how do you do that?

Russ: Number one is on the right, number two is on the left, number three follows behind.

Lauren: I don’t know that I wanted to rank them like that. Russ laughs. The only time you really rank your best friends is when you have a bridal party and it goes by the order you send them down the aisle. That’s when you’re ranking your best friends.

Russ: Have you ever seen drama caused because of that?

Lauren: I mean, I’ve heard of drama caused because of that. I think I saw a maid of honor and a sister get grumpy once.

Russ: I remember a friend of mine said I wasn’t going to be best man and his wedding. I thanked him.

Lauren: Laughs. Yeah, that’s a responsibility you don’t need.

Russ: You’re truly my best friend.

Lauren: You’d never had a best man at any of your weddings, right? I guess I was the closest…

Russ: You, I guess.

Lauren: …to a best man at your wedding.

Russ: Yeah, no. My friend James, like, was my officiant but I’ve never had a proper best man such as it is. Well. Despite how it was communicated to children, it’s pleasing to see that this poem is gaining a little bit of traction as a poly anthem.

Lauren: I can certainly see that.

Russ: As posted on the subreddit r/polyamory. “Shel Silverstein knows what’s up” and it’s gotten 984 up votes. Oof.

Lauren: Oof. What are they saying about it?

Russ: “If only I could share that with my husband. That’s his hardest hurdle.”

Hmm. It sounds like polyamory may not be the right choice for your husband. Sounds like your marriage may have an issue.

Russ: “I understand completely. I came here to explore because of the way I feel about love. I have no experience as a poly. There are many obstacles to this, but I’m determined to keep trying until I succeed.”

Lauren: Okay.

Russ: “That doesn’t surprise me to hear that. Playboy has had some really great writers working for ’em over the years.”

Lauren: Yep. Shel himself I wouldn’t call polyamorous. They weren’t really using that term at the time, I don’t think, but he didn’t really do relationships that much.

Russ: He did like to shag it looks like.

Lauren: Yeah. He liked the fuck a lot. And he did have crushes on people and would get mopey when they were fucking someone who wasn’t him. But he never tried to have long term relationships with women.

Russ: Shel had a daughter with a woman named Susan Taylor Hastings that he met at the Playboy Mansion. They had a daughter named Shoshana, and Susan, his partner, died one day before Shoshana’s fifth birthday show. Shawna then went to live with her uncle and aunt in Maryland and she did not live past the age of 11 dying of a cerebral aneurysm. He would later go on to have a son with Key West native Sarah Spencer, who drove a tourist train. He still lives and seems to be a New York based songwriter. Man, when you hear someone living on a houseboat in Sausalito. That definitely generates some kind of image.

Lauren: Apparently it started out not that great of a houseboat. And then he invited someone who was good at carpentry to stay in the house boat while he cavorted about and the person who was good at carpentry was so, like, freaked out about the state of disrepair that he fixed up the house for him.

Russ: Shel:—wise before your time.

Lauren: Shel didn’t really have relationships with the women he had children with, although he maintained somewhat of a relationship with his children, but he did make sure they were taken care of. Like he was generous in terms of finances with them. He bought them houses and sent them money and things.

Russ: There is one more aspect to Where the Sidewalk Ends that I had never known for myself even as a kid. And when you open it up, the very first page in the book says “For Ursula” on it.

Lauren: Yeah, that’s his editor.

Russ: I know. For ages and ages, I never looked it up. I thought it was his daughter. And do you know about Ursula Nordstrom?

Lauren: A little bit.

Russ: I had to find this out. You are correct. She was Shel’s editor when he published Where the Sidewalk Ends. And that was the last book she would publish over a long and storied career at Harper and Row. And not only was she editor she was editor in chief and publisher from 1940 to 1973. And she edited the a who’s who of your favorite books: Stewart Little, Charlotte’s Web, Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Danny and the Dinosaur, and was the first woman, and child’s publisher, to receive the Association of American Publishers Curtis Benjamin Award, and died in 1988 with her longtime companion, Mary, Mary Griffin.

Lauren: Aw.

Russ: So now Ursula has taken on a much more poignant meaning for me because this was the jewel in the crown of a very storied individual.

Lauren: Her swansong before retirement. He did dedicate a book to Shoshana, but it was the next one we’re going to be reading: A Light in the Attic.

Russ: So what else are we talking about today?

Lauren: Well, this is it. This is the very last poem of Where the Sidewalk Ends. This is “Dancing Pants!”

And now for the Dancing Pants,
Doing their fabulous dance.
From the seat to the pleat
They will bounce to the beat,
With no legs inside them
And no feet beneath.
They’ll whirl, and twirl, and jiggle and prance,
So just start the music
And give them a chance—
Let’s have a big hand for the wonderful, marvelous,
Super sensational, utterly fabulous,
Talented Dancing Pants!

Russ: Yay!

Lauren: Yay! Claps. Strange that our last poem is an announcement for something to come. No, that’s not strange at all.

Russ: I like it.

Lauren: It’s appropriate. And the image is a pair of pants that look like they’re probably khaki trousers and they have a belt. And one leg is super high up in the air with the knee bent like it’s kicking up and the other one is bent backwards behind it, like it’s about to run up a wall, or something like that, Matrix style.

Russ: Wow, I am not good at dancing

Lauren: Who’s good at dancing? Only dancers are good at dancing. I was looking up this poem, and one thing that kept appearing was, like, these spammy education sites that are like, “Here’s some education content” and they’re all like, “examples of personification: Dancing Pants by Shel Silverstein.

Russ: You can almost hear your fourth grade teacher saying it. “Now are the pants real people? No, they’re not. Are they described like people? Pants don’t dance but people do.”

Lauren: On tvtropes.org, there is a trope that’s called Dancing Pants and it’s named after Shel Silverstein’s “Dancing Pants,” and it’s all about the phenomenon of animated clothing. And appropriately, the top example is a Dr. Seuss poem and image. “Then I was deep within the woods when suddenly I spied them I saw a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them.”

Russ: Didn’t Dr. Seuss write before Shel did, by a lot?

Lauren: Okay, but this is just TV.org. This TV trope is named after the Shel Silverstein poem, and includes stuff with Dr. Seuss. It says “Clothes can do a lot of things when worn by people. It can keep them warm, it can make them look cool, it can give them superpowers or turn them violently evil. There are some weird articles of clothing that don’t have to be worn by anyone to do things. Somehow they can move around with nobody inside them. For some reason the disembodied clothing is usually a pair of pants. There is this comic I really enjoyed when I was a teenager called Eggpants. It was an egg. It was an egg. And the egg found this pair of pants that it was really, really, really in love with. And then one day the pants disappeared. And Eggpants discovered that they were stolen, but also were kind of off having adventures without it. He was very jealous.

Russ: Now when you said comic, I thought stand up comedian.

Lauren: No, no, no, no. Webcomic.

Russ: And so you’re describing Eggpants and I’m like: Man, this is way before Tape Face. I’m digging this and now come to find out that his act doesn’t revolve around him and the eggs that are in his pants getting into hilarious hijinks. I am so much less invested in the in the tail of this egg with pants.

Lauren: I don’t see it anymore. It doesn’t seem to exist online anymore. But it was fun. And I was sad when the author stopped making it.

Russ: Mandela Effect.

What, you mean you think it never existed?

[EggPants was a real webcomic created by Devoted Bee.]

Russ: Oh no. I would never say such a thing. We’re already on the wrong timeline.

Lauren: What timeline?

Russ: I was joking the other day that thank god… the Large Hadron Collider,I will remind everyone, has been turned off for the last three years. So I’m hoping that when they flip it back on, we’ll jump back to the normal reality.

Lauren: That’s so grim.

Russ: I find it’s the last hope I’m clinging to.

Lauren: Well, I mean, that kind of suggests that we are the people of that reality. And so when they flip it back on, we will cease to exist and the versions of us that are living the better timeline will pop back in.

Russ: Well, the good news is that we would never know.

Lauren: That’s true.

Russ: If this universe is a false vacuum when it collapses, it’s instantaneous. Consciousness winks out in an instant.

Lauren: Yeah, I mean, maybe it already has.

Russ: Also Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is a good book. It’s another one of those multiverse ones where, you know, never meet yourself from another timeline.

Lauren: Sometimes I see people who remind me of myself and it just makes me feel a lot of horror.

Russ: I have seen a couple of Lauren doppelgangers here in Vancouver.

Lauren: It’s never the appearance of someone that I think looks like me, so much as it’s the personality. When I meet someone that has my personality and are much younger—I’m just like—it’s like looking at me in the past. And, I don’t know, I feel nice to them but also jealous like: man, you have so much time to do things better than I did.

Russ: Boy. Oof. That’s a very interesting sensation and one that I can’t relate to. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that reminds me of me, personality wise. That’s a fun thought.

Lauren: I wonder if it’s mostly women that have this feeling because I was on Twitter the other day, and one of my friends was expressing that sort of horror, when you see somebody who reminds you of yourself when you were young, and your sense of mortality is just glaring back at you.

Russ: I would love to feel that. That sounds monstrous.

Lauren: It’s a horrible feeling.

Russ: Well, but it’s one I’ve never experienced before. Life is about having new feelings.

Lauren: This is not new. This happens somewhat often. I mean, not super often, because I don’t see a ton of young women that remind me of myself. But once in a while I do. And I’m just like, wow.

Russ: But I’ve had zero of them. I want one. I just need one of those experiences, then I can say “Yes, that was horrible. Lauren was right” and move on with my life.

Lauren: Laughs. I think it’s that for men, like, aging isn’t supposed to look as bad on men than it is on women. So when a woman looks at a younger woman—that’s young and has all this vitality and energy—they’re like, oh, here was when I was a better version of myself, even if that version was actually very unhappy. And I don’t know.

Russ: Wow. I love what you’re describing. It makes perfect sense. I just wish I could empathize. Maybe it’s because all the young men I see these days are just—I don’t know—so much better looking than I ever was. And like, I can’t possibly put myself in their shoes, because it’s like, wow, look at that gorgeous fellow walking by. Ah..never be there.

Lauren: I was gorgeous. Russ laughs. I was! I was. I was gorgeous.

Russ: If I do say so myself. I was not. I was never. Oh, God.

Lauren: I had some people telling me I was the prettiest person they had ever seen.

Russ: I’ve never heard that.

Lauren: Yeah, it was something I heard occasionally in my teenage years.

Russ: Oh, the dying of the light.

Lauren: Nobody says that to me now, for sure. For sure nobody says that now. I rarely get told I’m pretty at all much less the prettiest person ever.

Russ: Do you suppose it’s cyclical? Do you think it’ll come back around at some point? Like if we live to be 80, will we become the prettiest people again?

Lauren: No, not for women.

Russ: Not for women.

Lauren: This this poem reminds me of this one time I went to a show, back when I was very young and gorgeous and had a lot of energy. I went to see a band—I think the band was called Sexy Pants—simply because the name of the band was called Sexy Pants.

Russ: Good name.

Lauren: Yeah. And so they were gonna do a sexy pants contest and whoever had the sexiest pants would win. And so I wore my pleather pants and I was like… No, no, they weren’t pleather they were they were like vinyl or whatever. They were definitely from Hot Topic and squeaked when I walked.

Russ: Yeah!

Lauren: And I went in these pant, and I was like, I’m super gonna win this contest. Well, maybe somebody else has better pants, and I do but these are pretty great pants. And I went and there was almost nobody there who also came to see the show. So you would think I had a great chance of winning this, but then the the venue had decided since there was nobody there, they were just gonna give the prize to the band, who was not wearing pants that were all that exciting.

Russ: What are they going to do with it?

Lauren: I don’t know, they did something with it. And I didn’t get it and I was wearing much better pants than any of them.

Russ: Bull shit.

Lauren: It was bullshit.

Russ: What is it? 20 years later and still vengeful?

Lauren: Yeah, I think I was about 19.

Russ: Well, Lauren, do you have any uplifting thoughts to leave the listeners with on our last episode of season one?

Lauren: Laughs. Things are fine. Things are good. Why can ever think of something? My mind just goes completely blank. Oh, this weekend… This is hilarious. I’m going with my friend. So my friend is sad that we haven’t been going to as many costume shenanigans as we did when we were younger. So in order to not feel so old, we’re going to a costume shenanigan thing. And it’s a Beltane celebration where everybody has to dress up like they’re a fae creature.

Russ: Oh my god. That sounds so cool. Oh, that sounds like so much fun.

Lauren: Well, yeah, we’ll see it’s gonna be raining, but my costume is unfortunately be kind of lackluster because I didn’t plan ahead, but I’ve got a dress that will work. And I think I’m going to do my hair and pigtails with little fake artichokes on either side that will look kinda like a Sailor Moon hairdo.

Russ: So is this a creature in particular? Is it just the fae folk?

Lauren: No I’m just trying to look fae and I’m going to do this in airy earthtones, but also bright makeup that isn’t exactly appropriate colors for a human.

Russ: Gotcha

Outro music.

British Voice: Please do not close this book on me.