My Fair Lady: A Series of Text Messages

by Belle Waring on January 25, 2015

Prof. Henry Higgins: I could totlly teach you to talk good lol.
Eliza Doolittle: no way! I talk too bad!
HH: you would even be hot then haha.
ED: but I have a smudge on my face.
HH: inorite?
ED: it’s small but it like hides my whole face. it is a magic smudge.
HH: if you didn’t have a magic smudge you could be hot. jk you will prolly never get that smudge off. you will never be hotlol.
ED: please teach me to talk good even though I suck and stuff plz!
HH: I guess, god whatever

ED: some dudes think I’m hot!
HH: as if. they are just saying whatever to get into your pants. they can tell u still talk stupid.
ED: OMG u r so mean I am seriously crying now for real!
HH: you are way too emoshe. that’s why I can’t even deal with chicks sometimes. this is all about a bet I made with my bro. a brotimes bet. brotimes.
ED: I hate you! I am running away!

HH: you ran away to my mom’s house because you love me.
ED: no one ever said I was hot before until you said I looked barely tolerable. will u PLEASE GO OUT WITH ME PLEADE!
HH: OK I am like 70 u know.
ED: and I am like 25 and no one ever said that they had gotten used to seeing my face among other objects they saw during the day, like cabs and umbrellas! u r the 1! you saw thru the magic smudge! IT WAS MAGIC!
HH: yeah I’m pretty amazing. OK fine.
ED: I love u so much!
HH: I love me too.


UPDATE: If I had been making fun of Shaw it would have said “Pygmalion: a Series of Text Messages,” wouldn’t it? What am I likeliest to have seen recently? The original London production with Julie Andrews? Possibly, just conceivably, the Audrey Hepburn/Rex Harrison movie? Let your imaginations run wild. Secondly, it has been brought to my attention that Mallory Ortberg thought of this first, which is too bad insofar as she is way funnier than me, but good insofar as she is both way funnier than me and a more dedicated, prolific writer, and I get to read the things she writes on the internet. So, it’s win-win! The only thing for me to do is keep training harder, like that montage in Rocky IV when Rocky is training in Siberia while Ivan Drago is being put through his paces in a futuristic Soviet lab, so it turns out Rocky is training in a more authentically Russian way than Drago, because he is in the snow carrying wood and buckets. IRONIC! The music for this is awesome, although it annoys John when it comes up on shuffle in iTunes. “What the f%*k? Oh this is one of your montages isn’t it. You know, the Thundercats theme song came on while I was with Violet at drum lessons yesterday.” Forget the haters!



Julie 01.25.15 at 4:46 am

Dirtbag HH.


dr ngo 01.25.15 at 5:00 am




Ronan(rf) 01.25.15 at 5:03 am

costa de lolz


js. 01.25.15 at 6:07 am

What do you mean I can’t favorite and retweet this!?

Seriously, this is super excellent. This actually really made me laugh out loud.


Belle Waring 01.25.15 at 7:14 am

I think you even can tweet this or something? There are “share this” buttons at the bottom of the post on my browser; I have never used them, however. But I’m happy to have elicited the actual lols!


js. 01.25.15 at 8:08 am

Oh, shit! It totally does! I went the old-school 20th-century copy-and-paste kind of way. But hey, I did tweet it. (Also, am feeling just a bit dumb because the post doesn’t mention tweets at all! Not quite sure how I misread it entirely.)


William Berry 01.25.15 at 8:17 am

R u making fun of the the gender sensibilities of G. B. Shaw?*

Don’t tell “geo”!

*To be fair, GBS might be having a little/lot of fun at the expense of HH.


William Berry 01.25.15 at 8:22 am

“Your comment is awaiting moderation”


The comment is utterly innocuous, indeed virtually pointless.

If the pointlessness is the sin, I gladly retract it.



Belle Waring 01.25.15 at 8:30 am

William, the comment moderation software is automated to some degree and does not reflect any personal animus.


William Berry 01.25.15 at 8:38 am

OK; sorry.

I don’t comment that often, and that’s the first time I’ve had a comment in moderation.

[I am suffering from insomnia; what’s your excuse?]*

*Yeah, I know, you’re on the other side of the world.


Alison P 01.25.15 at 10:42 am

Ah, but according to Shaw, Eliza marries the submissive, gentle, Freddy. She is a dominant character and rejects the opportunity to be bullied by Higgins.

‘it is a truth everywhere in evidence that strong people, masculine or feminine, not only do not marry stronger people, but do not shew any preference for them in selecting their friends. When a lion meets another with a louder roar “the first lion thinks the last a bore.” …

‘This being the state of human affairs, what is Eliza fairly sure to do when she is placed between Freddy and Higgins? Will she look forward to a lifetime of fetching Higgins’s slippers or to a lifetime of Freddy fetching hers? There can be no doubt about the answer. Unless Freddy is biologically repulsive to her.. she will, if she marries either of them, marry Freddy. And that is just what Eliza did.’

I always thought Higgins’ final line (what is it, something like ‘She’ll be back’?) is intended to be a whistle in the wind.


Alison P 01.25.15 at 10:54 am

“… And it is notable that though she never nags her husband… she has never got out of the habit of nagging Higgins that was established on the fatal night when she won his bet for him. She snaps his head off on the faintest provocation, or on none… He storms and bullies and derides; but she stands up to him so ruthlessly that the Colonel has to ask her from time to time to be kinder to Higgins.”

I also like Shaw’s final thought that Eliza fantasises sometimes about ‘dragging Higgins off his pedestal’ and having sex with him, but she keeps that firmly in the realm of imagination, because she doesn’t really like his personality all that much.

It must be 35 years since I read that all (until I Googled it today) but it has really stuck with me, perhaps because it seems like a more satisfactory conclusion to a romance than most you read.


LFC 01.25.15 at 2:22 pm

This post prompted me to look at something I haven’t read in years: Shaw’s Epistle Dedicatory, i.e. the preface (written in 1903) to Man and Superman. Shaw’s opinions were a mixture of the sensible with the weird and distasteful (I think perhaps increasingly the latter as he got older), but to read him in full flow, as in that preface, is an experience that no one should miss.


J. Parnell Thomas 01.25.15 at 2:54 pm

The 4th to the last tweet has 164 characters, not including spaces. I’ve never tweeted, so I don’t know if spaces count, but anyway it should have been split into 2 tweets.


mud man 01.25.15 at 4:02 pm

@14 JPT steps up to provide a demonstration of the premise.


Ben 01.25.15 at 4:50 pm

I mean, *snort*, what are we to believe, that tweeting capacity generations ago was better than what we have now?

I sure hope Belle gets fired from CT for this blunder.


js. 01.25.15 at 5:25 pm

It’s funny that several people–me included!–immediately read this as being a series of tweets, even tho the title clears says otherwise.


js. 01.25.15 at 5:26 pm

“clearly”, not “clears”.


BJN 01.25.15 at 5:59 pm

This concept was applied to a series of posts on The Hairpin and eventually a book called “Texts From Jane Eyre,” incredibly successfully, IMO. Please google it and give all your money to Mallory Ortberg


BJN 01.25.15 at 6:00 pm

Sorry, the Toast, not the Hairpin


Mike Schilling 01.25.15 at 7:09 pm

Tweets LOL too #GBSFTW


J. Parnell Thomas 01.25.15 at 7:51 pm

Well, I’ve never texted either.


geo 01.25.15 at 8:21 pm

LFC@13: Right you are, and if anyone still thinks Shaw’s objections to Shakespeare were shallow or merely personal, let him/her read that magnificent “Epistle,” in the middle of which, over a few pages, WS’s gifts and limitations are magisterially set out. I only wish I’d remembered it during our earlier CT discussion of Shav vs. Shakes, since it would have obviated much huffing and puffing on both sides.


LFC 01.25.15 at 9:30 pm

@geo: For the record, I’m more favorably inclined to Shakes than GBS was, but for the present point, i.e., Shaw’s superb prose style, that is neither here nor there.


William Timberman 01.25.15 at 9:55 pm

geo @ 23

Hard to top this for sheer deviltry, but as with all things Shavian, it was deviltry with a mortal purpose:

We laugh at the haughty American nation because it makes the negro clean its boots and then proves the moral and physical inferiority of the negro by the fact that he’s a shoeblack; but we ourselves throw the whole drudgery of creation on one sex, and then imply that no female of any womanliness or delicacy would initiate any effort in that direction. There are no limits to male hypocrisy in this matter.


ZM 01.25.15 at 11:08 pm

That’s very funny. Oh dear, I do hope 70 year olds are not writing like that in the future… It sort of reminds me of Pop Sonnets, which does the opposite in turning pop songs into sonnets.

I have to say I did not really like GBS’s essay very much – every few paragraphs I verily wished I could butt in and interrupt: “how is Coriolanus “the greatest of Shakespeare’s comedies”? It is a historic tragedy, I don’t know why you would call it a comedy at all?”

I do hope though that some enterprising director begins a revival of the play and the “Don Juan with a political pamphlet” character gets played by Russell Brand.


Belle Waring 01.26.15 at 4:17 am

ZM: that is an actually excellent idea.


bad Jim 01.26.15 at 7:35 am

Henry Higgins is clearly a young brat, rich and immature. He’s hanging around with, and being patronized by, his aunt. I saw the movie not long ago and seem to recall Eliza commenting that they were about the same age.

Other than that, quite a hoot!


John Holbo 01.26.15 at 8:06 am

It’s a lie! I love the Thundercats theme!


Belle Waring 01.26.15 at 9:04 am

Wev bad Jim. The actor playing HH is only 20-some years older than Audrey Hepburn, but he looks waaaaay older. So much older. Infinity older. Lizard people older.


des von bladet 01.26.15 at 1:10 pm

1) Men have names too! “Rex Harrison”, in this case.
2) The key song in the musical is “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”; Eliza is actually being groomed for beardship.


lemmy caution 01.26.15 at 1:45 pm

There was a TV show called “selfie” that was a Pygmalion update for text messaging age. It was on ABC and lasted maybe two episodes last fall. It had a women from “doctor who” and a guy from “harold and kumar”. It wasn’t horible.


LFC 01.26.15 at 6:34 pm

I’m told (i.e., family lore has it) that as a v. young American child living in London during My Fair Lady’s original run, I sang the songs continually. Must have been more than a bit annoying. I have no recollection of that but still have a soft spot for the musical, though I haven’t heard it in years. Btw, the original LP of the cast recording had a striking cover with a caricature-like drawing depicting HH as a puppet/marionette master pulling Eliza’s strings.


Suzanne 01.26.15 at 9:15 pm

The “romantic” conclusion to Pygmalion was originally for the 1938 movie, which was adapted by Shaw himself with some uncredited work from others although he did not approve of the new ending. Alan Jay Lerner borrowed it for My Fair Lady but no credit was given, as I recall. The ending is still fairly dry in the 1938 picture – Eliza returns, but it’s not at all clear for how long and on what terms. In any case, Wendy Hiller is nobody’s doormat, so if she did stay with Higgins it might not have turned out as Shaw envisioned.


Suzanne 01.26.15 at 10:38 pm

It is but musical comedy trivia, but I forgot to add that the original production opened in New York, not London. Andrews and Harrison appeared in both, and then, notoriously, Audrey Hepburn got the nod for the film version. (This was a very big deal at the time. My Fair Lady was the biggest hit Broadway had ever seen till then, and back then Broadway was far closer to the center of popular culture.)

@33: I remember that album cover. It also shows Shaw pulling Higgins’ strings. As a kid I had no idea who Shaw was and assumed the white-haired fellow was God. Apparently I wasn’t alone in the error.


JanieM 01.26.15 at 11:28 pm

I don’t know how to embed photos, or even if I can. But since we’re reminiscing — here is my copy (from childhood…) of My Fair Lady as “recorded in London, February 1, 1959.” The liner notes are dated March 9, 1959.

Here’s the back cover.

Here’s the cover for the album of songs from the movie.


JanieM 01.26.15 at 11:30 pm

Got the links for the back cover and the movie album reversed…it’s obvious what they are, anyhow.


JanieM 01.26.15 at 11:31 pm

Drat. No.

This is the 1959 front cover, with GBS pulling Henry Higgins’s strings and HH pulling Eliza’s.


JanieM 01.26.15 at 11:32 pm

Trying again…here’s the 1959 front cover.


JanieM 01.26.15 at 11:34 pm

I give up; the link addresses aren’t copied right. But you can navigate within flickr and see all three of them easily enough. Back to work.


Belle Waring 01.26.15 at 11:58 pm

des von bladet: try to think of a way in which I could have discovered Rex Harrison’s age at the time of filming without looking at his name. Possession of the date of filming is easy enough, but I will also have to find his date of birth. What’s that, nothing coming to mind? That’s because it is entirely, completely impossible. ADDITIONALLY REX HARRISON’S MOTHERFUCKING NAME APPEARS IN THE MOTHERFUCKING POST ITSELF. Please apply minimal logical standards and a willingness to read to the bottom of the post to the next thing you wish to correct me about in a condescending fashion. Yours, with bitter irritation at the commenters of her own website who, taken all in all, will eventually just drive her away completely with their continual, spiteful, small-minded, petty, sexist dickishness, Belle Waring.
PS: it’s barely conceivable you are just “pretending” to correct me in a dickish way. Then I guess I’m sort of sorry or something, except not super-sorry.


Suzanne 01.27.15 at 12:16 am

@31: Again my pedantry raises its ugly head to note that the name of the song is actually “A Hymn to Him (Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man).” There is actually a tinge of misogyny in that number and in the earlier number “I’m An Ordinary Man,” but it’s a theme closer to the oft-married Alan Jay Lerner’s heart than Shaw’s.

Higgins does seem to regard Eliza as a potential honorary member of the men’s club and he just can’t understand why suddenly she’s going all womanish on him…..


Belle Waring 01.27.15 at 1:20 am

Suzanne: like I say, brotimes.


J. Parnell Thomas 01.27.15 at 1:41 am

I shall now successfully link to the 1959 front cover, with GBS pulling Henry Higgins’s strings and HH pulling Eliza’s, on my first try.


JanieM 01.27.15 at 3:12 am

LFC: I’m told (i.e., family lore has it) that as a v. young American child living in London during My Fair Lady’s original run, I sang the songs continually.

Heh. They are catchy, to put it mildly. On my evening walk tonight I found myself humming “I’m getting married in the morning…”

Which reminded me that when I was a freshman in high school, a friend and I whiled away the boredom of morning homeroom by writing about a hundred verses to go with a chorus of “We’re sitting in tomorrow morning….so be sure and get us to the steps on time.”

Also LFC: …to read him in full flow, as in that preface, is an experience that no one should miss.

Truer words…..


LFC 01.27.15 at 4:09 pm

Suzanne @35
I remember that album cover. It also shows Shaw pulling Higgins’ strings.

You’re right; I had forgotten that.


LFC 01.27.15 at 4:18 pm

@Janie M: I’m partial to “On the Street Where You Live” — nice melody, clever lyrics.

And I don’t even have to click on JPT’s link of the album cover (though I thank him anyway) b.c I now have a v. clear mental image of it.


Shelley 01.27.15 at 5:15 pm

Just shows why text messages are worthless.


Suzanne 01.27.15 at 6:08 pm

@47: Moss Hart and everyone else with an opinion that counted wanted to cut that song. Lerner liked it (so do I). It stayed in.


Belle Waring 01.28.15 at 12:39 am

Shelley: internet comments, by contrast…
Suzanne: that’s my favorite song also, actually.


J. Parnell Thomas 01.28.15 at 1:24 am

Here’s an internet comment: how did Rex Harrison make a career out of talking the words to broadway musicals? He was like William Shatner with a snotty accent in place of camp value.


ZM 01.28.15 at 1:36 am

They could have gender reversed it to My Fair Laddie with William Shatner ;)


J. Parnell Thomas 01.28.15 at 4:06 am

I actually heard Shatner’s version before the other one.


JakeB 01.28.15 at 6:03 am

I agree the Shatner/Jackson/Folds version is great, but it’s even better with the animated Star Trek slashup:


ZM 01.28.15 at 6:18 am

You’re right – that is pretty great JakeB


des von bladet 01.28.15 at 9:28 am

Belle: I guess it was a weak joke and it didn’t come off, sorry. I certainly didn’t intend my accusation of inverse sexism to be taken straight. Driving you from the Internet is no part of my past, current or future plans.


RobNyny 01.29.15 at 3:09 pm

The original production was in NYC, not London.


LFC 01.30.15 at 9:28 pm

The original production was in NYC, not London.

Yes, I stand corrected on this. Suzanne, above, already made the same point. But there was, presumably, a first run in London, i.e., a first time MFL opened and ran in London, even if the orig production was in NY, and I believe, if my chronology is right (i’d have to check), that it was during that period that i was in London as a child. Not that anyone shd care one way or other but since i had mentioned it earlier…


JanieM 01.30.15 at 9:34 pm

From Wikipedia:

The West End production, in which Harrison, Andrews, Coote, and Holloway reprised their roles, opened April 30, 1958, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where it ran for five and a half years[16] (2,281 performances). Stage star Zena Dare made her last appearance in the musical as Mrs. Higgins.[17]


LFC 01.31.15 at 2:13 am

Thanks, Janie M.
(The chronology fits.)

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