In my first published novel, Return from Avalon (and Points West), my first beta-male hero Arnie Penders finds himself at Mount Rushmore. Bored after about 20 minutes, and in the manner of any good beta-male hero, he begins to entertain himself thinking about ways the world could be better. In this case, he’s waxing eloquent about how Teddy Roosevelt could have possibly made the top 4 presidents’ list. From there he moves on to creating alternate “Mount Rushmore” lists.
Arnie’s first list is FOUR MOST FAMOUS AMERICAN WOMEN. Here is an excerpt from the letter he’s writing to his ex-wife describing his mental gyrations.
“Actually, famous is a really bad criterion here—might end up with Marilyn Monroe or Patti Hurst or somebody. How about, ‘Four American Women who have made the greatest impact on the nation?’ OK, I pondered that quite a while. Due to the persistently sexist nature of the country, no American Woman has made any impact comparable with Washington or Jefferson. I can see you alternately cheering and booing so hard as you read this that you might spill your tea except that six pages into this narrative your tea is long gone and you’re contemplating a stiff gin and tonic with a squeeze of lime instead.”
(here follows some more prater—Arnie goes off on tangents a lot—before he returns to his contemplation)
“Anyway, to get back to the point where I was already wandering away from my story, I established the criterion, ‘greatest impact, at least as great as Teddy Roosevelt’s.’ Here’s my final list. Harriet Tubman—I would love to have known this woman. Soldier, spy, master conductor on the Underground Railroad, suffragette—she packed several lifetimes full of accomplishments in her 93 years. Rosa Parks for sheer courage as well as impact. Clara Barton—countless lives saved during the Civil War, huge influence on ongoing national conscious. Wow, so many powerful women, so few places to carve their heads. I guess for my last pick I’m going with Sacagawea, not only for her role in opening the American west but also for keeping Captain Clark’s tendency toward graffiti under control [nb: inside joke from earlier in the novel].”
ARNIE PENDERS, YOU INSIGHTFUL STUD. Little did I suspect that, years after he made his selection, the U.S. Mint or Printing & Engraving or whoever makes such ponderous decisions would validate his number one choice by selecting Harriet Tubman as the first woman on a U.S. bill.
Congratulations, Ms. Tubman, on an honor you so soundly deserve.
Arnie Penders is a fictional character, and decidedly NOT the same as the author, Rusty Rhoad. Opinions expressed are his own. I happen to agree on Harriet Tubman, but will not denigrate his voice by quibbling with any of the others.
Here’s a collage of your American Women Mt. Rushmore. Now all we need is a granite mountainside to carve them on.