The night before I left CA to move to Malaysia, I went to ‘The Bank’ with two girlfriends. I hadn’t been to a bar in forever, but DH was in Malaysia getting the living situation in order, and DS was visiting his grandparents in WA. What the hell!
The Bank is a hole-in-the-wall bar in Saratoga. It’s dark, narrow and worn down. One girlfriend happened to be kid free that night too, so she quickly replied ‘yes’ to my FB invitation. She’s mother to one of M9’s nursery school mates. We’ll call her, ‘Hempy’. She’s a big fan of ganja. I think she tokes daily. Bless her heart.
The other girlfriend is DH’s ex-wife’s sister. We’ll call her ‘Drinky’. She’s a big fan of alcohol. I think she drinks daily. Bless her heart.
I offered to drive. The last thing I needed was a hangover getting on the plane in the morning. One drink every 2 hours would be my limit. The rest of the time it’d be soda water.
At the bar, we ordered drinks and chatted. Hempy’s in her late thirties. I always thought she was cute, but OMG, didn’t realize how much attention she attracted from men. That night they followed her around like puppies. At one point, one guy offered to toke us out in the back. She accepted. After that he had the impression that she was his date. As a courtesy, I ran interference a few times to give her a break from him.
Outside, I sat with Drinky and she was pretty sauced. She explained how everything was bullshit. She doesn’t hold back her opinions. She’s witty and smart. Her two major failings are these: drinking, and forever assuming negative intent. Both get her into trouble and both lead her toward darkness. But I still adore her. I see her inner beauty and charm. Plus I can swear like a cobbler, drink like a sailor, and freely say what’s REALLY on my mind sharing a bottle of wine with her.
We sat near a couple of Jimmy Buffet looking dudes. Chatted a bit. A few young kids popped out from the bar for a smoke. They couldn’t have been older than 21. I wish I had gone home that night and recorded exactly what they said. They were so callow, so eager, so ignorant. One kid kept trying to argue some really bullshit and naive political point. The Jimmy Buffet dudes, Drinky and I toyed with them mercilessly. At one point a J.B. dude winked at me and I nodded knowingly. The kids had no idea. They kept trying to convince us of some very black and white political ideology. Maybe it was objectivism? Perhaps. In any case, when the kids finished their smokes (WTF are they smoking for? At 21 they should know better right?), we all laughed. Oh. We were ass holes I’m sure, but it was kind of fun to drop my ‘every one play nice’ disposition for one night at a bar with no kids around. Well, if you don’t count those 21 yr olds as kids.
Back inside the three of us regrouped at the bar. Drinky was incoherent and negative, so Hempy and I chatted and laughed. Two twenty something guys came up and started hitting on us, well, IRL hitting on Hempy. When they started to realize we were over a decade older than they were, and that Hempy wasn’t interested, one of them said this.
“So, what is it? Mommy’s night out? That’s really sweet.”
W… T… F…. I looked at him like he’d just shit in his hand and wiped it on his face. They backed away.
We spent a couple more hours there. I let the mommy comment go for the time being and we danced ourselves into exhaustion and just had fun.
At 1am the wait staff began shrieking at us. “TIME TO LEAVE. GET THE FCK OUT! YOU CAN’T STAY HERE!” They were downright abusive.
Within a minute we were in the back parking lot standing next to my Prius. Doobie brothers toked the group out again and we chatted for a few minutes, feeling somewhat obliged. We climbed into my car. They kept talking to us. We slowly closed the doors and I started the engine. At last they cleared the way and we pulled out of the parking lot.
Don’t worry, I stuck to my guns and had only two beers in six hours. Even if the wait staff was rude at the end, they were kind to tee-totallers; I was never charged for my approx ten soda waters with lime.
Driving home I bitched about the mommy comment. Hempy agreed, even as she giggled continuously. Here’s the thing. No one except my son gets to call me mommy. It’s dismissive and rude. I’ve seen other ‘mom bloggers’ note similar feelings. It’s as if once categorized as a ‘mommy _____’ , your opinions and insights somehow don’t matter.
When a man cooks he’s called a ‘chef’. His creations are admired. When a woman cooks she’s called a ‘cook’. Her food is just food.
When a man takes 100% custody of his kids (like DH did before we married), he’s ‘a saint.’ When a woman does, she’s pitied for being a single mom.
The only woman from my childhood who commanded, neigh, demanded respect, was Dorothea. I’ve mentioned her before. She was a lawyer who carpooled to Washington DC with my dad. She didn’t tolerate being treated as anything less than equal to men. I wanted to be like her, knew I could be like her, and I chose a path that would get me to a place like hers. I was NOT going to be ‘just a girl’. I fled from traditionally female pursuits. I studied engineering and finance. I played golf and volleyball and music. When I look back, the real reason was that, from my earliest memories, I saw most women in my life received little respect, despite working their asses off.
The other night these sharp feelings resurfaced as I read this article about Male Asian computer programmer privilege. I remembered those micro-discouragements. I’ll write about one later perhaps.
It would have been a less emotional journey had there been NO baggage around my gender. Perhaps if that had been the case – if women in my family had been as respected as the men – I may have pursued some other interest. Or not. I loved studying science and math. My teachers were mostly inspiring and encouraging.
Regardless of the path I might have chosen if things had been different, the fact is there’s this deep ingrained drive in me to do things that garner respect as a person regardless of gender… actually, despite gender. As I’ve gotten older I don’t care as much. I now enjoy cooking creatively and regularly join a local ladies group to walk up a local hill. The feelings have tempered. Whatever. But don’t even think of calling me ‘mommie.’
But I needn’t write more on the subject. Plenty of ‘mom bloggers’ have covered this ground. Here are a couple:
tl;dr – writing about family seems like it’d be unrewarding due to cultural dismissiveness of women and their traditional roles.