Thursday, May 7, 2009

Damn Near Perfect

Episodes I've Seen So Far: (Season Two: "Over the Rainbow", "There's No Place Like Plrtz Girb". All of Seasons Three and Four [Except for "Peace Out"]. Season Five up through "Origin".)

To Winifred Burkle:

Praise of a Good Woman (Proverbs 31)

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

The ladies in my Bible studies class and I had a disagreement many years ago about this passage from Proverbs. I said, it seems like women need to be damn near perfect to garner this type of praise. I mean, really, she works all night at her spindle and rises before dawn after a short nap and slaughters breakfast for her family? Sounds more like a zombie slave to me. The other ladies in my class all seemed to identify with this good woman, and thought it was one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. God bless them all, because I know I could never come close to meeting all of these expectations. I'll be able to hear this piece recited one more time in church on Mother's Day again this year.

Which brings me to my feelings about Wini(Fred) Burkle. She was too damn near perfect, and all of the men in Angel, including Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, practically fell over themselves praising her beauty, her charm, her sweetness, her vulnerability, her kindness, her generosity, her selflessness, her moxie, her initiative, her courage, her brains, her work ethic, her quavering little girl persona that men just seem to lap up, etc. Count on Fred to stay up all night in the lab, then show up all refreshed for the 8:00 am staff meeting. Got any faults? There's no need to improve yourself, because Fred will forgive you no matter how big of an ass you make of yourself. No need to worry about Fred sassing you back if you yell at her because she allowed one little thing to fall through the cracks. She'll just act all apologetic and promise to do a better job the next time. Feeling depressed about anything? She'll be there to reassure you and cheer you up.

Oh, and she can eat just about anything and never gain an ounce!

I had talked in a previous post about how Fred's childlike qualities seemed to really appeal to the men in her life. In "Smile Time", Wesley was clearly talking about Fred when he mentioned a woman "...who represents even part of what you think makes the world worth fighting for". Fred brought out the hero and protector in him, and gave him the extra motivation to go out every single day and win one more victory for the good guys. Alexis Denisof even mentioned this in a talk that he gave at Berkley per this YouTube video.

Tellingly, in "A Hole in the World", Wes told Fred, "I've loved you since I've known you. No, that's not—I think maybe even before." To me, he clearly loved Fred as the personification of the ideal woman. Whether she could have lived up to his expectations if they had remained a couple is up for debate. Both men and women start to do all sorts of crazy things when they're in love. Their emotions are so close to the surface that love can turn to rage in an instant, as Charles found out the hard way. It was this same seething rage in Fred that doomed their relationship, no matter how hard Charles tried to fix things.

I know I'm starting to get in the habit of pulling out some weird literary references for comparison, so my apologies in advance for this one. I read Jackie Chan's autobiography several years ago, and it helped give me some insights on why so many men idealize the "perfect" woman. All of his life, Jackie came to view women as a source of solace and comfort, as a refuge from life's raging storms, as it were. Jackie would never come out and say this about his dad, but he had an abusive father and a saintly mother. His mother would always comfort him and gently care for him after he received his worst beatings from his father. Chan was dumped off at a Chinese opera training academy at a very young age, where the beatings continued on an even larger scale. The boys were vicious as they were forced to compete in somewhat of a survival-of-the fittest atmosphere. They even had to compete against each other for food, with the youngest always losing out.

Although the boys were brutal with each other, the girls, the "sisters", were like little angels who would comfort the boys, hide extra food away for them, and tend to their injuries. After reading Jackie Chan's book, I began to understand the reasoning why he wanted women to take on more traditional roles, and why he wanted to be their protector. He could not have survived without his mother and his "sisters", and he would never be able to begin to pay them back for their kindness. To Jackie, a woman didn't have to go outside of her traditional role to gain praise, since keeping up a calm and cheerful face while keeping the home fires burning during the worst of times took as much courage as everything the superheroes could muster for their battles.

We know that Wesley suffered his father's constant verbal abuse while he was growing up, while his mother stood up for him. I don't think I need to belabor the point about his need for a good woman to be his port in the storm. Although Fred suffered the same trials and tribulations of any man in the demon-hunting business, I sense that she was the type who could try to compartmentalize her life and keep her work at the office. I also have a sense that Wesley's inner-child that I talked about in my previous post came pretty close to being the real Wesley. It probably would have done him a world of good to be able to come home with a good woman at the end of the day and watch cartoons, play video games and read Frances Hodgson Burnett novels together.

(Not to mention, to be able to study the special properties of crystallized demon guts with the girl of his dreams.)

It doesn't take a psychologist to figure out that I'm insanely jealous of women like Fred, but I can't hate women like her either. They are not doormats, and they are not acting all sugary sweet for ulterior motives. They are good because that is the best way to be in life. You can get a lot farther ahead, with a lot fewer complications, by being good than by being petty and selfish. Fred couldn't help but be a good girl because she was raised that way. People like her are the standard bearers we are all measured against.

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