Totally Quotable Clementine: Paula Dean is Dead edition

Clementine came up and said this to me this morning. I guess she’d seen the television news somewhere last night. I didn’t know where to begin…

In retrospect, I probably should have started by asking why Paula Deen’s death would bring her anything but sadness, but, instead, after taking a few minutes to process what she’d told me, and figuring out that she must have somehow confused the portly white-haired butter pusher with Phyllis Diller, who had just passed away at the age of 95, I launched into a long… and, I’m sure, unappreciated… lecture on how important Phyllis Diller was to the women’s movement, and how, according to legend, she used to live in Ypsilanti, and sing in the choir of our local Presbyterian church.

One of the few regrets I have in life is not pursuing an interview with Phyllis Diller mare aggressively. I’d gotten as far as her agent, and I’d set up a call about fifteen years ago, but, when it didn’t happen as planned, I kind of just let it slide. I would have loved to have asked her what Ypsi was like in the 40’s, and whether or not her brief experience here informed her decision to challenge the dominant paradigm of the day, and pursue a career in comedy in spite of her sex.

update: It looks like I may have read too much into Clementine’s “kind of happy” comment. We just had a long talk about it, and it appears as though she wasn’t talking about Deen’s death at all. According to her, she was commenting on the kind of rich, southern cooking that Deen was known for, and how it was bad for people. It may not have come out quite the way she had intended, but what she had meant to say was that while it was sad that Deen had died, that perhaps, if you had to find a silver lining, maybe healthier alternatives to the food that she was pushing would now make their way to television. So, she’s neither a “sociopath,” nor an “amazing, precocious soul,” as some of you have suggested. She’s just a regular little girl, with a still less than artful grasp of the English language… I just found it funny that she thought the 95 year old Phyllis Diller was Paula Deen.

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  1. Kristin
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    Once again, Clementine takes the facts of a situation and sees instead the essence. Phyllis Diller? Not as salient as a dead Paula Deen. To the truth…

  2. Thom Elliott
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    I think I would have asked why the woman’s death made her “kind of happy”. Instead of giving a lecture which was barely understood on a topic a child would have little context for, I think I would have asked her to elaborate on her feeling. Is it that she is intuitively grasping the transient quality of existence? That all beings emerge, have duration, then pass away out of appearence, on the pathway back into the mysterious being from whence they came? That becomeing and being-towards-death isn’t a reason for despair, but is a reason to be thankful and at least ‘kind of happy’? Death is the thing that truely makes us unique, no one can die for you, it is the thing you must confront alone.

  3. Erika
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    I have been working in end-of-life care for almost 15 years now and there have been many, many times that I was “kind of happy” when someone died. I assure you that there are worse things than death. At 95, she had probably seen everyone in her cohort die. From listening to an interview with her on Fresh Air from 25 years ago, I gather that she was a little vain (tons of plastic surgery) so she had also watched herself age and decline. She may have been ill or disabled or in some amount of pain. The fact that she was “found dead of natural causes” at her apartment means that she died at home, rather quickly, which is exactly how I would like to go.

    It is very important for us to teach children that life is more complicated than “life is good, death is bad”. If C was happy that Ms. Diller was free from her 95 year old body and on to something better, than that truly is one amazing, precocious soul that you are raising. Great work!

  4. MarkH
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    You might want to ask her if she’ll be happy when you die. She sounds like a sociopath. A sociopath that hated The Gong Show.

  5. mark k
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Glad to see hate is still alive and doing well in the liberal homes. I wonder where she gets her hate at such a young age.

    ” the portly the white-haired butter pusher”

  6. Edward
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Where did you hear about Diller living here? Is it just a rumor, or is there any kind of verification?

  7. Dan
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink


    If you trust wikipedia:

    “Diller was a housewife, mother, and advertising copywriter. During World War II, Diller lived in Ypsilanti, Michigan, while her husband worked at the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant.”

    however, if you were to look at wikipedias page for “People from Ypsilanti” you’d run across an entry for a certain personality boasting about nonsense.

    So take that with a grain of organic salt substitute.

  8. anonymous
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Why does Patrick Elkins have a Wikipedia page, but not Mark Maynard?,_Michigan

  9. Eel
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    “Mark Maynard is a puppet in a shoebox, somewhere in Ypsilanti, Michigan.”

  10. Eel
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    From WikiAnswers:

    She lived in a housing community called “Willow Run Village. It was a built for the workers of the Willow Run Bomber plants during WW2. She began her comedic career by entertaining the women in the laundrymat there while they were doing their washing.

  11. Dan
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    from my estimation, this would make “Willow Run Village” part of Ypsi Twp. Therefore, Phyllis Diller hated you and your no lawn having asses, and you equally hated her.

  12. Posted August 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    What’s with all the hate?

  13. Anonymatt
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Phyllis Diller (and/or her ghostwriter) discusses living in Ypsi in “Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse”

  14. Mr. Y
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    They’ve finally found someone they can beat up on, Peter, and it’s an 8 year old girl.

  15. Arturo
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    I knew it would take a while for these conservative losers to resurface after Pierce and Eller got their asses handed to them. I guess this was the first opportunity they saw to exert themselves, and feel like tough guys again.

  16. mark k
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    “They’ve finally found someone they can beat up on, Peter, and it’s an 8 year old girl.” Mr.Y not one person picked on the 8 y/o girl. Some of us just wondered why a little girl would be happy someone’s mother, wife is dead, even one of the blog liberals Thom wondered why, “I think I would have asked why the woman’s death made her “kind of happy”. ” Not even for a second would I pick on a 8 y/o girl or boy for that matter, this is a learned behavior, and I find it disturbing such a young person would be happy when someone dies. If her Mother, or grandmother died I’d feel bad for her and want to take her pain away, as would my young son. Feeling happy that someone dies is just disturbing on all levels, and should have Mark wondering about where that came from, except his own writings here make it clear where she gets it.

  17. mark k
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Arturo I don’t live in the city of Ypsilanti (Just outside), so the mess that was made of the city of Ypsilanti has little effect on me, other then I have less places to enjoy, and spend money. That mess is something you guys must figure out, and I wish you luck in that. My family and I did enjoy the Heritage Fest this weekend, I even thought the drag qweens that passed out flyer’s to be fun, and friendly. No hate here, sorry to burst your bubble. I just hope when someone that little girl loves dies, nobody says to her they are “kind of happy”.

  18. Grandma
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    WOW, people sure do take things to extremes! I’m so glad I’m not too much of a “thinker”.

  19. Larry
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Dead people are very agreeable and quiet. I wish more of you were dead.

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  1. By Lessons learned in Savannah on July 23, 2013 at 6:23 am

    […] and all the ladies who found themselves soaking their nasty old feet alongside them, tried to cheer Paula up by telling her that God would see her through this most recent turn of events, or some such […]

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