Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cat Called

I've never understood the "you're pretty, let's go out" thing. If you think I'm pretty, that doesn't mean I think you're pretty or that you smell good or have a nice set of arms. Compliments are not legal tender, and my internal response to them from men in the dating pool is usually a cool "Yes. What do you want?" even though externally I convey demure compliance, which is something I'm working on with my therapist.

That's why I like the freebie in-the-street compliments from men. It's the one area of life where as a woman I'm not expected to respond; where the man can expect no payoff. He must mean it because he couldn't possibly think he's going to get anything in return.

This isn't to minimize the experiences of women who find it threatening when strange men yell compliments at them. Like a lot of the fun, harmless ways that men and women find to relate to each other in a civilized society, it's been ruined by a societal acceptance of sexual aggressiveness and immorality. The problem isn't that women are being too sensitive. The problem is that women end up having to watch their back and, by extension, that men are suspect just for being men because the bad ones look just like the good ones.

But I personally find it threatening when strange men are rude, angry and dismissive, and I find it delightful when they yell "Hey pretty white girl" from across a Berkeley street or "All right darling? You look lovely tonight" when running for a Glaswegian bus. I can smile, or I can not acknowledge it, and then I move on. It's considerably less tiring than carrying on a conversation with a date who can't find anything to talk to me about except my appearance.

And if a man wanted to yell at me in a bar that I'm smart, that would be okay, too. It just hasn't happened yet.

And the thing is, it's a hell of a lot better than being negged.

PS. It isn't only men who compulsively make conversation about externals. An older acquaintance--a trad, by the way--told me at my grandmother's funeral that I'm pale. I am pale. I was also wearing a sleeveless but perfectly appropriate blouse and, shockingly, not thinking about how I looked. And yet the cat lady (she is!!) felt the need to comment "You need to get some of this California sun" which was annoying but fine and then insisted "You're just SO pale" which is when I started wondering if she was hinting that I should put my sweater on and cover my shoulders. Either way, it was my grandmother's funeral. Don't be that person.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Today in Catholic News

You read The Hairpin, right? The three of you who still check in here once a while. And yes, I have frozen to death, thanks for asking, which is why I haven't answer your email(s).

First I noticed the Madonna of the Street picture in the background of Katie-on-the-left's screen during Super Bowl Face Paint.

And here now is the Infant of Prague:

Even if you don't care about Catholic art, this video is worth watching for its anti-camping bent, a topic which is very dear to my heart.

By the way, listening to ambient rain and thunder at work instead of Pandora and/or my coworkers gossiping about their live-in boyfriends and/or parties that I'm not being invited to and/or paranoidly assume I'm not being invited to has CHANGED MY LIFE.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Think I Like Him

I don't really know much about this situation or how accurate this article is or anything substantive about, really, any of it.

"Francis has called Benedict's 2007 decree allowing wider use of the Latin Mass "prudent," but has warned that it risks being exploited on ideological grounds by factions in the church; Francis has made clear his disdain for traditionalist Catholics, saying they are self-absorbed retrogrades who aren't helping the church's mission to evangelize."

But here's what I do know: this is SPOT ON.

There's a tiny minority of traditionalists who see themselves as only one part of a whole, and whose aim is grow in charity with their fellow Catholics. The rest are simply trying in whatever way available to them to bend others to their will. When people don't comply, they cry persecution. I used to be this way.

I have nothing against the older liturgy, and clearly neither does Pope Francis, but I'm not sorry to see a crackdown on the rabble-raising and pseudo-intellectual whining.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Books Aren't Everything, But...

I can't decide if I like this or not. I guess I like more than I don't like it. Also, it's a poem. Those more literate might have figured that out earlier in the video than I did. Also, Waterstone's 3 for 2 offer!

Edited to add: I first saw an actual enactment of the poem, found here:

It must have been the acting that bothered me on some level, or maybe the girl sitting around looking all pretty and made-up and stared at while wearing dresses, because the author just sitting and reciting the poem (above) seems much more genuine. I prefer the pared-down version by quite a bit. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Had a Honey

I was getting snow tires put on my car and as I sat down to wait an older man in one of the other chairs asked me if I was the girl with the book yesterday. I did have a book in my bag but I said I wasn't there yesterday, and he said, "I thought you were her because she was slender like you and had the same looking bag, and she sat there reading a book the whole time."

"Maybe I have a twin and I don't know about it," I said. We had the requisite long conversation about the cold, and he said the winters are milder now. He remembered one year when it was -31 on January 31. He had a cup of coffee from the vending machine and I considered getting one, because I hadn't had breakfast and was heading towards a caffeine headache. I wondered why he had been to the mechanic shop two days in a row.

I fiddled with my phone, but felt a wave of disgust for staring at small screens and put it away. My friend hadn't seemed to notice and asked me about my snow tires, saying his car had year-round tires that worked well in snow. I explained that I was from California.

That started the conversation about the weather over again, and we talked about where I worked ("That's a great company. I think they started here, a little shop down on Main Street.") and where in California I had lived.

"I know where that is. I lived right near there, in Alameda, when I was in the service. We had boot camp there. There was a place we would go to get beer and the drinking age was 21 but they let all us Boots in even though we were only 18. That's a great place to live; San Francisco, the Playland. Did you ever go to Playland?"

"No, but I've heard the name." I think Playland was torn down before I was born.

"The Cliff House?"

"Yes, I've been there."

"They gave us beer even though we were only 18. Drinking age, you know, but they served us Boots. I really liked San Francisco and that whole area. And boot camp. We had fun. It was a very nice boot camp."

He had lived for while in Boston. "Have you been to New England? It's beautiful. Of course, we went all over; Greenland. Bermuda. It was fun. I was in for three years and three days; when I got into Boston I said, 'Will I be getting out?' and they said, 'Only if we arrive before midnight. We don't discharge anyone on the weekend.' So we arrived at 12:05 and I had to wait till Monday morning to get out."

"Why did you leave?"

"I had a honey," he said.

Another old man came in and got coffee from the machine. He had red-rimmed blue eyes and looked like a Vermeer. They knew each other and exchanged banter.

"I tried to hold her hand but she slapped me."

"It's about time someone did that."

"I try to be bad but no one lets me."

The conversation started over. The weather. Where I worked. "That's a great company," said Vermeer.

"Didn't they start here? I think they had a little shop down on Main Street."

My tires were ready, I told them goodbye. As I paid my bill I heard, "She moved here from California...."

A honey.

I wondered how many times those same stories have been told in that waiting room. He told me to go back on January 31st and he would show me where in the paper it said that the record low was -31. Maybe I will.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Statements That Changed My Life

1. "She can't wear pants to ride a horse?"

Spoken by the dad of the homeschooling family I tutored in college, when I was still entrenched deep in the morass of traditional extremism. I was being asked to join a horse-riding expedition and I said no. "Because she doesn't want to wear pants," said the wife, who was subsequently embarrassed by his remark. I'll be forever grateful for his bluntness. Because, I mean, how stupid. And so it began.

2. "Everything takes practice."

Spoken by a gay hairdresser a few weeks before I left California. I had forgotten this fact and had been living my life as though I was just bad at everything I tried. Going through a traumatic phase of life can cause amnesia about basic life skills such as the above. He was talking about blow-drying your own hair straight, but it applies to a lot of situations.

3. "You can't just get rid of people."

Spoken by the raw-meat-eating manly man mentioned here. I was justified in getting rid of him, because he pulled the "let's be friends" card, and the "I've never been in a serious relationship" card, and the "I guess I meant it at the time and changed my mind rather than lied" card, but I kept him around anyway because he fixes my car for free. And when he said it, I realized there was a difference between setting boundaries by removing unhealthy relationships on the one hand and not expecting other people to be perfect on the other. You can't just get rid of everyone who doesn't do what you're expecting them to do. I had to be told this by a guy who says he "has never been comfortable with emotions."

I don't make this stuff up, I swear.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Stick Shift

Today I was listening to Car Talk at work, as one does, and a woman called in to complain about her husband. Actually, she started by saying something like, "My husband is a really wonderful man," which you know is a bad beginning because when you genuinely admire someone you don't have to schmooze, and plus he--I mean, they--were from Colorado.

Her complaint was that he downshifts their automatic into second gear when he slows down, which is, obviously, madness. She said that this drove her crazy because it was bad for the car and that she "had to pay half the car payments." I nearly jumped out of my seat in the Fashion Pod because I thought she was going to say he would leave their automatic in gear when stopped and PULL UP THE PARKING BREAK because that's what my ex used to do, and in spite of what a docile super-trad girlfriend I was at the time, it made me want to bite pieces out of the dashboard and throw myself screaming onto the pavement.

To my great shame, I'm the only person in my family who can't drive a stick shift with ease. I learned but never really practiced. The Car Talk brothers told the Coloradan wife that not only did putting the car in second gear not hurt the car but that she should be sympathetic to Husband because men these days so often don't feel like they're useful and that was his way of feeling like he was DOING something.

Okay. My ex wasn't even driving his own car. He wasn't even driving my car. He was driving my mom's car. Nothing prevented him from buying his own car and coming to pick me up for things, but he didn't, nor was he a very good driver. This was years and years ago but I'm still thinking about it, because I have no idea why he didn't buy his own car.

And the woman who called into Car Talk. It's not about the wear and tear on the car. It's about how she has to pay half the car payments and then still be expected to put up with his manly foibles. What does she get out of this? Oh yeah, nothing, because he's not taking care of her by paying for the car himself. Maybe if he wanted to feel like a man he could have done that very basic of American male things--have a car. And that universal manly thing--pay for stuff for his wife.

I would like to know what was preventing Mr. Colorado from buying his own damn stick shift instead of expecting his wife to finance his fantasies.

All this talk about women taking over stuff men used to do is nonsense. Men just don't do the same stuff they used to do. Nothing is stopping Mr. Latin Mass from getting up going to Mass every morning or getting involved with his church, he just would rather feel sorry for himself than DO SOMETHING.

I'm a bit tipsy on a Monday, so tonight you get the unedited version. Tomorrow I will have blogger's handover, I'm sure, so enjoy it while it lasts.