The Woman Who Wanted to Be a Lady
I am now the mother of a sixteen year old. We've had some very bad experiences at the DMV recently which were partially my fault. Perhaps it was less than supportive to have said "even retarded people drive cars." Nevertheless we dined at a nice place and there were some gifts of clothing which he will probably accompany me to Target to return and a big outing with friends this weekend to the Universal Studios Halloween Horror Spectacular. My life and my self, as I recall, improved quite a bit at age sixteen and I have a feeling this will bear out with my 16 year old as well. There are always kids in front of his school and some mornings when I drop him he'll kiss me goodbye and other days he'll barely grunt. Today the kids in front of the school seemed innocuous and I intuited outside of the school's center of social power and it being his birthday, I grabbed him and kissed his head. My signals were wrong apparently and he leaped from the car and called me "stupid" sandwiched between two words at the top of Lenny Bruce's list. In wanting to express my joy at his birthday, I inadvertently embarrassed him and in turn, his rage shattered me. I was five minutes away from the school and my phone rang. There was an apology and it was a heartfelt, loving one. Maybe 16 will be better than 15. Sweet.
Eventually my elderly Volvo will be the perfect rock solid vehicle for a new driver and this to me signals the beginning of the end of my days as chauffeur. I want something with a bench seat that will accommodate me and Rover only and I want something I can haul stuff around in. I've even sold Himself on the idea. I want a pick up truck. An old one, from the late 50's or early 60's. An Apache or a Cameo seem wonderfully suitable. Spuds and I rose Sunday at 4 a.m. and drove to the Pomona Fairplex to look at old trucks at the Vintage Auto Swap Meet. There was a sea of beautiful old cars and a number of trucks like the one Rover and I covet. I have never been to such an event but soon figured out by observation that the car owners sat on camp chairs chatting with each other. They'd keep an eye on their own cars and jump up and hurry over to engage in conversation anyone who lingered appraisingly. There were some very cool trucks. I lingered and examined and took pictures but I was approached by not a single seller. I thought I was doing something wrong or wasn't savvy to some ritual of protocol and then it dawned on me. I looked up and down the aisles of cars and saw that about 95% in attendance were men and the only other women I saw had male companions.
I publicly aver my intention to purchase a truck and to drive it around town with my not a foofy toy poodle dog. I also note my surprise and anger and sorrow at the realization that apparently unless I am accompanied by a person with a dick, no one will give me the time of day with regard to buying one. This is all true, I swear it, but the other truth is I lost a night of sleep because I felt bereft and sad and hopeless because I wasn't treated like a lady. I was not treated in the fashion that my poor old mom taught me to expect.
I think part of it is that Himself, for all the blight and noise and dirt in our neighborhood, really prefers to be at home. When we are out in the world, for him there is an almost magnetic pull to get quickly in and out of the car and in and out of the restaurant, or whatever place, in order to get home as quickly as possible. I know he appreciates the comfortable nest I've created and I love it that he loves to be there, but, sometimes it seems his urgency about returning makes me feel neglected. The other thing is that my beloved sees and relishes my strength and formidability. This adds a great frisson to our relationship and increases our intimacy. It would sicken me to have an old school husband treating me like a poor helpless thing and ordering my food or scrutinizing my checkbook. Yet, there is an old hurt that won't go away. I don't know if this is just another way in which my poor ma fucked me up or my negative response is entirely reasonable. I am wounded each time we park the car and he bolts towards our destination and is half a block away before I've snapped my keys in my purse. I am embarrassed when the check is settled at a restaurant and he is trotting down the street while I am still navigating out of the booth. My husband thinks it very silly and perhaps this comes out of his deep true respect for me, that he feels compliance would upset his vision of me as equal, competent, self reliant and strong. I don't know if walking beside a woman or waiting for her to depart a restaurant are outmoded conventions or they should be. I certainly see my own hypocrisy in feeling humiliated when they are not observed. I don't know what to do with such loggerheads. What do you do when you question the rightness of something but still desperately need it in order to feel loved?
A correspondent noted this week that my husband is a gem, and I agree, although she noted that she wouldn't want to be married to him herself. She added that he wouldn't want to be married to her either, the truth of which I can also attest to. Himself and I worship each other and while I joke about excoriating him in public each time he displeases me, he knows that my grappling here with our small struggles really just proves to the world we have created, and continue to create, a spectacular life together. We worked very fucking hard to shed the weight of shame we each carried when God brought us together and my life with him and the children we've made are my proudest accomplishments and every effort we make in words or thought or deed to strengthen our bond is golden. I am a big sissy who needs to be shepherded out of a restaurant. I want an old truck. No one will sell me one and that righteously pisses me off. Someone remarked that a lady driving a truck like the truck I want to drive could never be demeaned and how I wish that were true. Yet, maybe by sifting through the mess in my head and spouting off and keeping my arms and heart wide open, someday, truck or no truck, it will be.