The librarians call her “The Nancy Drew Girl.” Caroline’s just polished off The Message in the Hollow Oak, volume 12 in the series. She insists on reading in order, so every couple of days we’re back, requesting the next four volumes to be sent to our library from various county branches. I get the email notification that the books are in, and we jump in the car. Each trip we chat at the check-out and piece more together about the author of the series. I thought Carolyn Keene was a singular, prolific female author, but it turns out, Carolyn Keene was a pen-name used by dozens of writers, men and women.
“Carolyn Keene” is also a Leslie, a Mildred, a James, a Nancy, a Priscilla, a Wilhelmina, and a George. In some 1940’s soda shop, Leslie, Mildred, James, Nancy, Priscilla, Wilhelmina, or George could have been batting about plot lines surrounding an old clock or a hidden staircase, and those around him/her would never have known.
“Anonymity” is a funny concept in this modern age when what has been available to my girls since they were born is tv channels, social media, the internet. There’s not much left to the imagination. My 6 year old can jump on the computer and Google something as quickly as I can say, “I didn’t even know there was a Lego Friends show!” She asks me if I’m posting on Instagram the pictures of her swimming in her first meet. She uses the infinitive “to text.”
There’s something about the old days that makes me nostalgic for the old days.
So I like that Caroline likes the Nancy Drew books. She says she likes the mystery. She likes how each book comes together at the end. She’s figured out that there are patterns— she knows that someone is going to be a suspect, that Nancy finds clues along the way. It seems the good guy always wins. You’d think knowing that there was some sort of a pattern or formula would make the books less intriguing to Caroline, but she’s hooked.
And she’s even noticing that certain words new to her pop up again and again: “abruptly” and “confided.” New words are becoming old hack. (Another point for the good guys.)
We are still trying to sell our house.
I wish Nancy were here. Or, Carolyn Keene. If I could just sit comfortably in a café and bang out a plot line, I’d have this book finished. But, I haven’t a clue. Not a single clue who’s going to make us a reasonable offer; what day it’s going to be; where my children will be in school next year.
Each day is as mysterious as the next. I am no longer captivated by the intrigue.
People say, “It only takes one.” They also say that it will all work out. And what I, lover of control and ye of little patience, need to do, is . . . have faith and be patient.
It is not hard to recognize the pattern here–this is just one instant of many instances where there is no pattern, no formulaic equation to figure out.
Life is a mystery but not the good old-fashioned kind. All there is to do is ride it, and like Caroline, maybe learn something along the way, believing that the unknown will become the known and that the good guys will win.