Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tis the Season



Standing By Your Man


Long, long ago, children, in a magical land called North Dakota, a younger version of me took part in the wedding of one of my dearest friends, Sue. She's the tall blonde in the bridal finery. That's me standing next to her in the green floral dress. I was maid of honor. I never particularly cared for the man she chose to marry. I thought he had bully tendencies and was unkind to her dogs. But she was my friend and despite my negative opinion of her man, I wanted to be there for her on her wedding day. A few years later, they had relocated to Wisconsin, and I drove out to pay them a visit. I remember two things about their house. The first is that the walls were crowded with wildlife art. Seriously crowded. Practically floor to ceiling crowded. The second is that they had acquired an African grey parrot as a pet. It shrieked from its sizable cage in the corner of the living room. It kind of freaked me out. They told me the bird had set them back about five hundred bucks, and to please not tell their parents that they had spent such an inordinate amount of money on it. I thought it was weird that they should care what their parents thought of such things at that point in their lives. Shortly after returning home, I received a letter from Sue in which she inquired as to whether I had slept with her husband during my stay. She recounted several bits of evidence which she felt pointed directly to such a dalliance. I was horrified. In today's parlance, eeewwwwww! Remember, if you will, that I wasn't fond of the guy. I think I saw her once after that, and we eventually fell out of touch. This has come to be a recurring theme in my life. A  girlfriend accuses me of crossing a line with her man, and then discards me and our friendship and stands by him, seemingly forgetting about and subsequently forgiving his participation in something that never happened. My first recollection of such an accusation was on the playground at school when I was in third or fourth grade. A girl from my class approached me, flanked by two of her besties, and informed me that I was getting a bit too cozy with a boy from  our class. The boy in question was her boyfriend and I needed to back off. We were eight, at the most nine years old! I was puzzled about the whole thing. Truth be told, I liked another boy in our class, but it never occurred to me to stake a proprietary claim on him. Fast forward to a couple of days ago when the internet informed me that Sue's husband, John, had died just over a year ago. Which leaves me wondering if I should contact her. At the very least to extend my condolences, but maybe in the interest of mending fences, too. Even if nothing comes of it, I know from experience that making the effort is worth it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Reckoning

I am disgusted and horrified over the continual outings of prominent men over their despicable, shitty, sexist behavior toward women. In life in general and specifically in the workplace. And I know this has to happen. Too many women have kept quiet for far too long, out of fear of retribution and out of shame that they were somehow complicit. This is what I have to say, so listen up. Some of this was just plain ignorant, stupid, piggish acts perpetrated on women, mostly because an opportunity presented itself and the times were tolerant. If these men come clean, apologize, are contrite, and spend the rest of their lives doing everything within their power to empower women, I can forgive. What I cannot and will not forgive is the calculated and deliberate abuse and violation of women and girls by men in positions of power who deny they have done anything wrong. There is something fundamentally wrong with a man who can laugh off such horrible behaviors under the banner of boys will be boys. I think we can agree that there is a matter of degree here. Copping a feel is reprehensible but pedophilia is a felony. Regardless of political affiliation, it's time to call every last one of these perpetrators with a bent or totally broken moral compass on the carpet and deal with them justly. It's time for the conspiracy of silence to end. With a roar. A loud, feminist roar of rage that cannot be dismissed.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Always the Appetizer, Never the Entree

I really should say, most often the appetizer and seldom the entree. Because never and always are absolutes and rarely apply. But how do you get a clever title out of that? Without being excessively wordy. Not that I have a problem with excessive wordiness, but I like to save that for this larger space below the title. Titles ought to be pithy. Now that I have gone on and on about the title, let's proceed to the matter at hand. Which sort of concerns my fate, but is maybe more a pattern that has emerged, at least in my observation. It seems that I have some sort of magic touch, or something that nudges a man along to his next big romantic commitment. I could recount more than a dozen incidents in the last ten years of an interaction with a man, ranging from expressing an interest to a single date or kiss, or an actual romantic involvement that lasted a few weeks or a few months before it reached its conclusion. Then, no matter who breaks it off or how it ends, he rather quickly moves on to a serious commitment to another woman. Including marriage. At times this has struck me as terribly odd, due to the fact that they usually expressed that they weren't interested in a committed relationship, or an exclusive one, certainly not marriage. But then, directly on the heels of their involvement with me, turn on a dime and settle down into monogamy and matrimony. I don't really take this personally. Only one of them was a man I could see myself with long term. And I ended the entanglement just as often as one of them did. But I am left wondering what it was about me, or lacking in me, that might have influenced their romantic about-face. If it's my fate to be some sort of commitment catalyst that sends a man forth surrounded by an aura of devotion and consumed with a passion for fidelity, then so be it. My nature tends toward acceptance of such things with the hope that understanding will follow. My hangup at this point is that just last week I owned up to my attraction to a certain man. Honestly and sincerely. And not just here or to a trusted girlfriend, to him. Wouldn't you know, over the weekend a woman popped up out of his past, giving him the wink and nod, declaring that fate has dictated that he needs to take her out for sushi. Which is probably insignificant. Which I hope is insignificant. Could it be that there is cause and effect going on here? Or is this just some fateful fable I have assembled from the detritus of my failed romantic endeavors? I can't say with any certainty, I suppose I'm too close to the matter to be objective. What I can say is this. If in the near future this most recent fellow winds up in a serious thing with Ms Sushi, or anyone else, I'm hanging up my shingle and charging for my services. No more free dessert.

Old Friends


Maybe more accurately friends from my youth, or longstanding friends? I recently found Brenda on social media. We were roommates as working girls when I was dating the man I eventually married. She was my maid of honor. I wanted to post a pic of us together at the wedding but couldn't find one, so this questionable photo of us from my bachelorette party will have to do. It appears that Cagney & Lacey is on in the background. I know, you're thinking, what, no porny naked guy videos? My answer to that would be, we're mostly nice Lutheran, midwestern raised gals. Which means we consume our porn in private, though we drink alcohol together. I'm guessing it's been over ten years since we've seen each other. It would be fun to get together with her again, though I will never forgive her for making me wear the striped footie jammies. 


The time? Spring of 1972. The occasion? Confirmation at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. I haven't seen any of these people for decades. But I have stayed in sporadic contact with Kim, the cute ginger at the far left of the middle row. I am just to the right of Pastor John in the same row. Over the years we have both moved multiple times and experienced marriage as well as divorce. I am happy to report that in two weeks we will be reuniting to catch up on the forty or so years since we last saw each other. I will be en route to a family wedding. After  spending a day or so with me, since we will be conveniently located in a city where she has grandkids, Kim will be winding up her visit with a few days with them. I'm excited. This will be fun. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Again

I can't remember the title of the book. Anna may have loaned it to me, or maybe it was one we read in the feminist book club. Its concern was relationships and working at developing healthy ones of all kinds. And where romantic relationships are concerned, the book recommended being practical. In one of the final chapters, the reader was encouraged to make a list of qualities that she would like to see in a potential mate. So I made a ridiculously long list, which I then condensed down to a much shorter one. This is on my mind because I recently shared the list with a couple of friends*, both of whom thought it was terrific. Occasionally I look back at it and am a little amazed at how it gets right to the heart of the matter and leaves out the stuff that really isn't important. Which reminds me of young Sally Owens in Practical Magic who composes a spell using a list of qualities for a man who can't possibly exist so she will be spared the pain of loving and the eventual loss of that love. The Owens women are cursed, you see, when it comes to love. The curse is eventually broken when the impossible man arrives. Sally got what she wished for. I do love happy endings. 

*Admit it, you want to know. One woman, one man.

Don't Bring Me Down!

Way back in the heat of the summer, I put together a writing submission. Noting that the winners would be announced December first, it seemed a very long way off. Now that the day is veritably looming, I'm suddenly thinking about it after weeks of not thinking about it. I know what I sent in was pretty damn good. And I think I need to be content with that. At the same time, after submitting my writing for nearly eighteen years, finally getting published would be so gratifying. A validation of this solitary work I do by choice in something of a vacuum. Even when tempered by reality, my hope and enthusiasm for recognition is flying pretty high. Soar, little bird. Feathered things were meant to fly.