It was long past midnight on New Year’s, and I was slumped over on a chair, legs dangling over the side, head propped on one arm. My friends were engaged in a fervent discussion about football that was starting to devolve into shouting, so I rolled my eyes and dragged my sleepy ass up out of the chair in search of tamer conversational waters. As I walked into the next room, it suddenly dawned on me that I’d been the only girl in the other room. All the rest were in here, jammed onto one couch. And they were talking about clothes.
If they ever film a documentary about me in my old age, which they totally will, I’m going to relate this story. The lighting will cast my wrinkles in stark relief as I stare straight into the camera and say: “Honey, that’s when I knew everything had changed.” Somehow I’ll have a Southern accent; sweet as tea and slow as molasses. Just trust me on this.
But where were we? Ah. Guys were talking about football. Girls were talking about clothes. In separate rooms. Suddenly, every plotline from every television sitcom ever filmed before a live studio audience began unspooling in my head. Suddenly, I was having flashbacks to every family reunion I’ve attended, which always involves the womenfolk congregating in the kitchen to cook, wash dishes, herd children, and get tipsy on wine coolers while the menfolk stand around in the garage drinking beer and staring at some variation of automotive vehicle.1 Is this some unfortunate byproduct of getting older? Is this truly what we’re becoming? Is this our collective fate?
You know, I remember a time not so long ago when things were different. Back in the halcyon days of my mid-twenties. My mid-twenties were a fascinating time to be alive, and by fascinating I mean drunken. No one was in college anymore, yet we partied like we didn’t have to be showered, dressed, and in the office by 8:00 a.m. the following morning. And it didn’t matter whether we were out at a bar with friends or dealing rounds of cards at someone’s house: the guys and girls hung out together. We played together. We boozed together. We talked together. In the same room, even! If you can imagine.
But these days? I don’t know. In social situations, I increasingly find myself sequestered with other women. When we go for drinks now, ladies tend to sit at one end of the table and guys at the other. What the hell happened?
Well, for one, my friends and I aren’t spring chickens anymore. You know, if spring chickens were known for their propensity for staying out until the bars close down every weekday night. Which they aren’t. So, you know, I’m glad we got that sorted out. For two, folks are more coupled-up than they used to be back in their mid-twenties, and I don’t necessarily know their significant others very well. And since we are old and tired and rarely bother to meet up anymore, I tend to want to huddle with my closest friends and catch up on their lives — and guess what, most of my closest friends are gals.
So I guess it makes sense, but I still don’t like this inclination. The fact that we’re seemingly lapsing into stereotypes makes me severely uncomfortable. I just want to reverse the trend, not least because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on a couch talking about clothes. I am not good at that.2 I am that chick who spent a significant portion of her life thinking that fashion was the name of a department at J.C. Penney’s. I also know jack shit about celebrities and other gabby gossip fodder. If you are really in the mood to torture me, try combining the two into one clusterfuckbomb of a question like, Can you believe what so-and-so wore to the Oscars? Then, stand back and have fun watching the blank look on my face gradually melt into panic as I awkwardly stammer out the first response that comes to mind — for example, I like avocados! — before turning and fleeing to the bathroom, where I will hide in the stall with my face in my hands and mentally berate myself for not knowing who so-and-so is and why she was at the Oscars’ house in the first place.3
Basically! I am not very good at being a conventional girl. Which is why I just want to be A PERSON. A person who talks to OTHER PEOPLE. We are all just people, after all! People with varying interests and backgrounds. We are not really gender-divided caricatures, are we? Are we? [Hint: say “NO!”]
From the first day I met him, one of the things I always appreciated about the beau was that he could come out and meet me and a few other girls for drinks without feeling bored, frightened, or emasculated. Likewise, I was happy to hang out with him and a group of guys — quite a common occurrence since he’s on a rugby team, I might add. People were people were people to us — and still are. It doesn’t matter what gender you are; as long as you have a good personality and have never stabbed anyone for any reason other than self-defense, I will enjoy talking to you.
So I want to go back to that. Is that too much to ask? [Hint: say “NO!”] Is it even possible to return to our roots? Maybe roots that are watered with a little less alcohol this time, since I am now so old and feeble? Am I asking too many questions? Were you expecting this post to have more stuff about football in it, since that’s what I opened with, and are you now feeling disappointed and betrayed? Is anyone else going through anything like this? Would you like to have a drink with me and talk about it?
No? Oh. Okay.
Apologies in retrospect for the gender-normative content in this post. I promise that my worldview isn’t actually this limited.
1 Hot tip: if you are a child and you would like to have a fifth popsicle, go in the garage and ask the men. The men will never say no. The men, in all likelihood, will have forgotten who you even are. To them, you are just an extremely short person, almost puppy-like, who desires the simple pleasures of a popsicle. Why not let the poor short person have one? The women, on the other hand, will always have questions for you first. “HOW MANY POPSICLES HAVE YOU ALREADY HAD?” they will ask, and then they won’t even wait for an answer before they screech, “YOU HAVE ALREADY HAD A POPSICLE TODAY. NO MORE SUGAR FOR YOU!” Then they will wipe your face and tell you to go play outside and stop bothering them.
2 The clothes-talking, not the couch-sitting. I actually excel at couch-sitting. You can find me practicing diligently every night.
3 Ooh, I smell scandal!