Friday, February 5, 2010

The Lesson From Lulu Bains

I once worked with this lady who was approaching middle age and whose boyfriend, for whom she felt deep affection, was in his early twenties. She really loved him. He was her life and her happiness. Right there, warning signals should have flashed in her brain. Nobody can be your happiness; happiness comes from within, not from someone else. Or at least that's the way it should be.
Anyways, the predictable happened and her boyfriend left her for someone his age. She did not cope well at all, attempted suicide and ended up in a state hospital.

She should have read Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. There is a character from that book who could set a big lesson for women (maybe for men, too, but I think this applies to mostly woman.) Her name is Lulu Bains.

I don't think my telling you this will ruin the book for you if you haven't read it and plan on doing so. Elmer Gantry is a cad. He was the only child of a doting mother. I'm not sure what happened to his father but I suppose I could go to the book and see if he's mentioned in the beginning. Nonetheless, the father plays no role in this book so the elder Mr. Gantry's demise is of no consequence.

Elmer is totally, 100% self absorbed. He's the smoothest of talkers, a user, someone who loves only himself. Unfortunately, he can charm the birds from the trees, money out of wallets, and young maidens' hearts from their breast. He is an evangelistic preacher who is so glib tongued that he ends up going from a young, inconsequential playboy to a world famous man of God (not really, but he gets money by convincing other he's a man of god.)

Back to Lulu. when we first meet her, she is the young daughter of an elder from Elmer's very first church where he serves as the new preacher. Elmer is smitten with her 'kittenish' qualities, her fluffiness, her pinkness (Lewis likes to use these words to describe Lulu and he uses them a lot.) Elmer sets his eyes on this young virginal pink vision of fluffiness and he gets the girl. Once that happens, she begins to look pasty to him, unattractive, needy.

As time goes on, Elmer climbs the ladder of success, finds a few other young ladies who are more than willing to be seduced. But Lulu does not get over him. She runs into him a few years later, lets him know she never stopped loving him and Elmer sees her through 'refreshed' eyes and takes up with her again. Of course, Lulu means nothing to him. She isn't willing to see that, tho.

As time goes on, Elmer meets a new young thing and hires her as his personal secretary..yup, the good old, long used ruse of "My Personal Secretary." Now, Lulu also attends that church, and so does Mrs. Gantry, Cleo, who is a fine lady in everyone's eyes...except Elmer's. Elmer lies to Lulu and tells her Cleo has 'found them out' and not only must she (Lulu) leave him, she must leave his church.

Lulu is devastated, but not for herself; she is absolutely devastated because she caused her beloved Elmer pain. she stands at a trolley stop, crying over the pain she has caused her beloved and the problems he must face with his wife. 'Course we know that Elmer is lying.

As time goes on Elmer continues with his swindling and his womanizes. And what happened to Lulu? she ends up losing all concern about her well being, becomes slovenly in her appearance and her home, and begins to take up the bottle.

She has allowed a man to ruin her life. This makes me sick. To me, there is the real story. and there is a lesson for all (but especially for young virginal women; do not allow anyone to ever infiltrate your life so totally that they have the power to destroy you. Ever.

I wish I could spread lulu's story to all young people, every where. But the best I can do is post it here.

from the movie:

Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry

Shirley Jones as Lulu Bains


  1. Nobody can be your happiness; happiness comes from within, not from someone else.

    I can't be in complete agreement with you on dat even though many say dat is so. Many of us need a mate to make us feel whole or complete.

    Or as one train of thought goes. A man is not complete until he is married, then he is finished. Ha ha ha ha ha

    Anyway, back to Lulu, reminds me of a little song I learned as a kid in a mining town.

    Banging away on Lulu, banging away all day, hey boys, whatcha going to do for banging away when Lulu moves away?

    And so on.....

  2. Nut? It takes one to know one. :-)

  3. How about don't be a doormat? Seems reasonable enough for me.

  4. Fantastic recap of the story. Elmer Gantry is a excellent portrayal of a narcissist. And really we are all Lulu's until we recognize that Gantry's are out there without a care for the rest of us. Sadly I think our society produces a lot of the Gantry personality disorder and it's co-dependent Lulu types. Hard hard work to live untouched by them. Run!

    Great post and thanks for reminding me of the great novel and movie.

  5. All them Flicks seem so romantical!!


  6. Hey Stagg!! And Candy, it really is tough to stay untouched by the Gantrys of this world, isn't it?


Go ahead, you can do it! Just whistle if you want me. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and BLOW....

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