“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,” got stuck in my head after I scratched it for ideas. I tapped my foot to the rhythm, eight years old again at heart.
My choir is staying connected during the pandemic by meeting every other week over Zoom. Someone suggested an Easter-themed shareoke – like karaoke but online. People share a favourite – a poem, a story, a song. The delivery doesn’t have to be polished. The point is to appreciate what each person contributes and build our relationships.
I had volunteered to do a standup routine before the organizers requested more participants. I circulated the suggestion that someone else could lead a singalong to “Easter Parade”.
Bob, an enthusiastic and openly gay fellow all of us love, immediately offered to do it and provided the lyrics.
Gender stereotypes leapt off the page.
Easter Parade by Irving Berlin
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade.
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I’m taking to the Easter parade.”
Growing up in the ‘50s, I used to aspire to be that woman. I now appreciate how my over-reliance on the passive female stereotype hindered my development as a whole person. I imagined how excluded a young gay male raised in the same era must have felt when heterosexual attraction was all the media portrayed.
Message to Bob:
“Sorry, I hadn’t noticed how sexist the lyrics are. I plan to poke fun at the song in my standup set.”
Here’s how I boiled it down:
“Man flatters attractive woman he plans to wear on his arm to get his picture taken.”
Cultural conditioning runs deep. A part of me I’d rather not own still aspires to be that woman.
A different part invited me to stroll along some residential streets on Easter Sunday afternoon. I was on the watch for signs of new growth.
(Cue birds chirping)
“In a toque and not a bonnet, with breeze and sun upon it, I saw exquisite blossoms on my Easter parade…”
I felt grand, took lots of pictures.