Sheila's Reviews > Shopgirl

Shopgirl by Steve Martin
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Mar 24, 2008

liked it

I don't know why, but I almost want to perceive the story of the relationship of Mirabelle and Ray Porter as the author's parable of all relationships between older men and younger women.

A shy young woman toils in relative obscurity, unseen and unappreciated by her contemporaries (men and women alike), still emotionally a child waiting to bloom; an older man takes notice of her and is able to appreciate her youth and freshness and need for someone to notice.

Of course, there's the sex; but furthermore each fulfills some need of the other - she (this mild Damsel in Distress)brings out his "fatherly" qualities, she makes him feel protective; he satisfies her romantically (at least temporarily), and the fact he's rich doesn't hurt either, as he's able to fulfill some of her everyday financial needs as well.

Maybe it's because of these (fatherly/patronizing) feelings Older Man (Ray) has for Younger Woman (Mirabelle) that he inevitably realizes she'll never be what he's really looking for (an equal - socially and emotionally), and it's only upon their separation from each other that she's able to mature emotionally and professionally to become a full adult.

Meanwhile, the Younger Man who threw away one chance already with Younger Woman has had time to ripen and can now truly appreciate the qualities she's always had, as well as those she's gained from her experience with the Older Guy; he's now ready for her to lean on him for support, as Older Man watches lovingly and supportively from the background.

It'd be kind of rash of me to make assumptions about Steve Martin's personal background, but I really get the idea (perhaps unfounded) that there was a personal philosophy going on behind Shopgirl, and this roughly sketches it out.
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