Yes, my children think that I’m an alcoholic. It came up one night when my girls were in my bedroom. I try to keep my bedroom nice, as a retreat for me. I didn’t realize that it would attract my female offspring. They keep their rooms like hoarders-in-training but come to my room to relax. It’s just not fair . . . but I digress . . .
One night when they were lounging in my room one daughter told me she thinks I’m an alcoholic.
“What? Why?” I asked, completely shocked.
“Well, a recovering alcoholic,” she clarified, and further explained, “I’ve never seen you drink.'” She pointed out that she’d seen my sisters and my best friend drink but, “You never do, Mommy.”
“Even Daddy drinks,” she added. I must have made a face of some sort because she quickly said, “But not too much.”
She went on, “But Mommy you never drink so I figured — you can’t. And you never have alcohol in the house. What grown up never has alcohol in the house?”
Well damn. The kid has it all figured out. Her sisters chimed in and agreed. “Oh yeah, I thought that, too,” said one. “Me too,” said another. The one I call “The Quirky One” just smiled.
“But I’m not an alcoholic!” I protested.
“Recovering alcoholic, mom,” she corrected me.
Sooo. My kids think I’m an alcoholic because I don’t drink. Yup, It’s very difficult to prove that you are not a recovering alcoholic if someone thinks you are.
Am I going to have to throw a few back at the dinner table just to show my kids I’m not a drunk? Bring a six-pack to the high school football game maybe? Down a Bloody Mary at breakfast?
Damn kids don’t know my life.
The truth is, except for the college years I’ve never been much of a drinker. My ex-husband was absolutely and totally against drinking, see My High School Self and The Night I Became Cinderella. I didn’t make my own decisions about it, Instead, I followed his lead since he had very strong opinions that theoretically made sense. He had come from a family that had been plagued by substance abuse. Most of his siblings have had issues, serious issues. Even his mother, her first and second husbands, and his estranged father reportedly had bouts with addiction. He’d seen some bad things caused by alcohol or drugs and feared the propensity for addiction might be hereditary. I’d seen the effects on his family and vowed never to expose my own children to that lifestyle.
So he and I were going to be different.
I didn’t drink, except at college where I drank behind his back with my college friends whom he never really liked. After we were married we only kept alcohol in the house for holidays. Bottles of hard alcohol collected dust on top of the cabinets until they were wiped clean and set out at Christmas. We were definitely not a “wine with dinner” family. My husband and I shared a few drinks over the years, but by and large I completely missed the typical partying or bar hopping of youth and the happy hours of the young professionals. Then came the pregnancy and breastfeeding years where I had to abstain anyway — so it’s been years since I’ve been any kind of drinker.
No matter, after double-digit years of marriage and five children my husband left me. I could do whatever I damn well pleased.
Unfortunately, at the time that meant taking anti-depressants.
Fact: You’re not supposed to drink when taking anti-depressants. So, I didn’t. I follow directions, you see. I’m obedient like that. No drinks for me while I was on the meds.
No matter, after a very difficult “discontinuation period” (aka “withdrawal”), I’m off the anti-depressants. Technically, or should I say, medically, I can drink now. Hooray, hooray!
But I still don’t drink.
First, I’m a complete lightweight. After not drinking for years, I can’t hold my liquor. Half a drink and I’m tipsy, and not in a good way.
Second, since I roll solo most of the time, I’m always my own designated driver so . . . can’t drink.
Third, now is not the time to start having alcohol at home, not with a house full of teenagers.
And fourth, I’m the custodial parent of five children. I’ve got responsibilities, I can’t sit at the local bar with friends every night. That ship has sailed. I missed it. Damn it.
So yeah, I’m free to do what I want now — except that I’m not, not exactly, not really. Story of my life . . . but I digress . . .
But this is what kills me — my formerly anti-social, teetotaler, judgmental ex-husband is now the life of the party. After years of telling me that drinking was wrong, that he was afraid of addiction, that he didn’t think kids should be exposed to alcohol — now he drinks and to our kids, he’s the normal one . . . but me? Me?
Hello, I’m Mommy and I’m an alcoholic.
Just Me With . . . a drink in my hand. It’s coffee.
It begs the question: If my girls think that because they’ve never seen me drink I must be an alcoholic, what do they think about the fact that they’ve never seen me date? I mean, their Dad has found love and remarried. I, on the other hand, have not. I abstain, or so it may seem. The girls probably think I don’t occasionally enjoy the company of a man (or keep one in the house) because I’m either: (1) still heartbroken about their Dad, or (2) have herpes.
Humph. Offensive, either way.
Related: Getting Off The Meds
A while back I wrote a Bucket List of Men to Do. On it, I included an Too Old For Me Rich Guy saying, “At this point in life this is my only route if I want to be photographed as the pretty young thing on someone’s arm.
This past weekend, I thought about checking that one off my list.
I had been invited to a graduation party of a former student. The student’s family is wealthy. Not surprisingly, it appeared that their friends are similarly well off. As per usual I attended alone. As per usual, it appeared as though I was the only woman attending alone, except, of course, for the widowed grandmothers. As per usual, I was the only woman of color, and as per usual I knew hardly anyone there. The point is, I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. Well, maybe not sore, more like a bare thumb, among French manicured pinkies. But these are really good people, we go back a long way, and I was happy to have been invited. Sometimes I just tire of going solo — all the time — but I digress . . .
I got my food and took an empty seat among strangers, though the host did eventually join us. He introduced me, explaining that I was his son’s music teacher.
Well, an older gentlemen seated across from me was simply fascinated, almost smitten. Now I don’t discuss the specifics of age but considering my wealth of life experience, a man significantly older than me has got to be pretty darn — experienced. Nay, old. But this man, by his dress, demeanor and comfort level led me to assume that he had means. I seriously doubt that this dude needed to check his balance before going grocery shopping.
I didn’t catch his name. But let’s call him Jack. Jack was quite complimentary, noting that he certainly would have stuck with his music lessons if he had a teacher who looked like me. “Wow,” he said, and inquired as to whether I had any openings . . . heh heh heh. “I don’t know how the boy could learn anything with you as his teacher.”
I tell you, I almost giggled. This flirtation from an older gentlemen of means made me — me, a grown-ass woman of feminist sensibilities — positively girlish!
I’m not sure, but I think I may have flipped my hair.
I took the comments in kind and did not pursue the matter, but . . .
Let the record reflect that I object to the way younger women romantically involved with older rich men are maligned, called gold diggers and such. It’s offensive.
But hey, Gold Diggers, I get it now. (Shhhhhhh)
Just Me With . . . giggles. I really wanted him to buy me something shiny. I’m just saying . . .
I’m just trying to make it “One Day At A Time” like divorced TV mom Annie Romano, except that I have two Barbaras and two Julies, and a boy.
Let me set the scene. As per usual I was unsuccessful in getting certain tasks completed before the kids came back from a visit with their dad. As per usual none of the kids gave the requested heads up text to let me know they were on their way before they came. (I didn’t know what time they were coming home, only that they’d be home earlier than the required drop off time because one of the kids had a rehearsal.)
So the kids walked in to me in the middle of various projects — hanging a shelf, bagging their clothes they refused to wash, my private journal open on the kitchen table and Sex and The City blaring on all three TVs. (It’s one of my secret single behaviors to turn on all the TVs while cleaning so as I’m walking around the house I can still hear and glance at whatever is on. Don’t judge.) I was startled and felt like I got caught doing something wrong.
Turns out, I apparently had done something wrong.
My cleaning and organizing efforts were rewarded with a fit of rage from the Anxious child. Her twin, the Angry child was — guess what? Angry. As per usual, she did not enjoy her visit with her dad and brought her frustration home to me. The other kids just breezed in, dropped their stuff where they felt like it and perched various places in the house to eat the fast food their dad sent them home with. Someone got the Angry child’s order wrong and she was angry about that, too, no surprise. Somehow this anger was directed toward me.
It is always stressful when the kids get home. They’d only been gone for twenty-eight hours but the whole visitation process: getting them ready and out of the door when they’d rather not go, their behavior when they return, my guilt over how I choose spend my time when they are gone (not getting enough done, not having any fun) is always difficult. See Weekends Off.
After the tirade from the Anxious and Angry twins and my frustrated response, I still had to drive the oldest to rehearsal and get some dinner for myself.
During the drive I tried some relaxation techniques I’ve been reading about. I took deep breaths. I sat in my car for a bit to calm down. And, in an uncharacteristic move, when I returned I decided to sit down and watch something funny. Normally I would hide from my ill-tempered children or launch into a series of chores and attempt to get them to do the same. But instead I loaded the DVD player with my new favorite guilty pleasure, Pitch Perfect. Don’t judge. Okay, go ahead and judge. And yes, we own it.
The girls joined me. When he returned from his rehearsal, the Arrogant one — the boy, retired to his boudoir as per usual. To his credit, he was doing a massive amount of homework that he saved for when he got back from the visit. His choice, his stress.
What people say about humor and music is true. Watching Pitch Perfect made me feel better. Miraculously, both the Anxious child and her twin, the Angry child, calmed down.
But when I got up to go into the kitchen to get a drink, however, I was met with a surprise.
Someone had opened every single cabinet and drawer in the kitchen.
It’s not just a matter of neatness, leaving cabinets open has scared the bejesus out of me way back to The Sixth Sense!
Do you remember the abused ghost wife and the open cabinets in The Sixth Sense?
I stopped dead in my tracks. I was already emotionally fragile.
I WAS TRYING TO CALM DOWN!!!!!
But those people I made, those people I grew in my belly like mold, those people know that having all the cabinets and drawers open frightens me!
It probably goes back to Poltergeist as well.
I just don’t do well with kitchen surprises. I’m okay with bugs, I’ve dealt with some nasty stuff, see Piss, Puke and Porn, but open cabinets — scare me.
I froze in my steps, mouth agape. When I could finally move I gingerly walked the five steps back into the family room and cried to my four female spawn,
“WHO DID THAT? You know that scares me!”
Then I collapsed on the floor and laughed so hard I cried. I didn’t go back in my kitchen until I got a confession out of the Quirky one and ordered her to go in there and close everything up.
Oh, those people I made all had a good laugh about it. Great big belly laughs. I was a hysterical mess on the floor, but unlike some of my past days, it was in a good way.
I guess the experts are right that laughter helps with depression and anxiety.
But does it have to be at my expense? Does it?
I just looked at my girl, the Quirky one — the Offender, and said,
“You used to be one of the ones that I liked.”
Just Me With . . . a weird phobia, an unexpectedly devious Quirky child and a good laugh — on the floor.
Given my mood, it was a bold move on the Quirky One’s part. I have to respect her risk-taking.
Shout out to Merbear who inspired me to write something positive about my girls. Well, I don’t know if it was positive, damn kids.
Other Kitchen Surprises:
This was years and years ago. I was a college student. My parents had “sent me away” to live with my older sister for the Summer, I think to keep me away from my boyfriend. They didn’t send me far away or for long enough. They should have put me in a time machine and sent me to the future, just to get a glimpse as to how things might turn out if I stayed with that boyfriend. Now he’s my ex-husband, but I digress.
I was lured to my sister’s city with the promise of getting a Summer camp counseling job with my brother-in-law, who headed a Summer program for inner-city youth. Once I arrived, however, it became clear that there was no such job. So, stuck in a city where I knew no one but my sister, who was married and ten years older than me, and while I was still stuck in a relationship where I was not “allowed” to drink or even go out, really, I decided to take whatever job I could get just to pass the time.
The job I got was at a downtown fast food restaurant, Burger King. The kind folks at Burger King issued me a hideous brown? orange? yellow? UGLY polyester uniform with a matching hat. The manager placed me “up front” as a cashier, taking orders. The people who were already working “in the back” making burgers were not thrilled about this, suggesting (well, actually saying) that I thought I was better than they were because I was from the north and a college girl. We were in the deep south, you see. Whatever. I went where I was told.
It was busy downtown eatery, during the lunch rush there were often lines at the register and a wait for food. And there I was, standing behind the register, with my fitted polyester uniform (I vaguely remember getting it a size too small so I could at least show my figure) along with my matching hat, with one hand on the microphone and the other on the counter waiting for the next customer.
A young man who had been patiently waiting his turn sauntered up to the counter, looked me up and down with bedroom eyes, expertly executed the mack daddy chin rub before he leaned on the counter, gave me the “up” nod and asked, simply,
“So . . . do you work here?”
I lost it. That cracked me the hell up! It was the best laugh I’d had in a long time. I almost gave him my number right then and there, boyfriend be damned.
Looking back now, I wish I had.
Just Me With . . . the best pick up line . . . ever.
What’s your favorite pick up line?
Bad pick up attempts: The Landscaper Guy
I’ve known many different types of people in my life. But having been in a committed (ha!) relationship for most of my life, I was constrained from “knowing” in the biblical or romantic sense many different types of men. Still, in my now single state I think about men a lot and wonder what I missed, and whether I could still sow a few oats.
So, without further ado and in no particular order, here is my —
Bucket List of Men To Do:
1. Rich Guy — You know on those movies and sitcoms and women meet those guys who buy them a designer dress and fly them to Italy for dinner and crap. Yeah, that would be nice.
2. Too Young for Me Guy —
Let me first say this. I am not a pedophile. The boy-man must be legal and look like a man. That said, a boyish cutie pie would be nice. I just want a hint of immortality. I young man will never forget his first quality real grown-ass woman. Plus they have good music and not a lot to do.
3. Celebrity —
a. Actor— Preferably a screen actor so when a movie is rebroadcast on television or a TV show is put in syndication I can casually walk by the TV and say, smugly, “Yeah, I hit that.”
b. Musician– I am a musician. I would like to be able to hang out in a larger-than-life musician’s home studio and jam. I want to ride in the limo to concerts, and listen from backstage. I want him to play/sing, only for me a song that has made millions of other women swoon. And I want to play for him. And, Prince, if you are reading this, DM me.
4. Really smart guy — A scary smart guy. All he’ll have to do is talk to me or debate with others and I’ll be putty.
5. Country Guy— Okay, I cannot explain this. I’m black and not a southern woman. I don’t keep livestock or even go horseback riding. I don’t own a gun or a truck. I have a toy dog. But a good old boy would be fun for a minute. He must not call me ma’am, though.
6. A delivery guy. (I don’t know. I just don’t know.)
7. A man who does not speak English. I’m American. I only know a wee bit of French — wait, excuse me, un peu bit of French. I want to be required to communicate in other ways. I bet I could become bi- and tri-lingual given the right teacher. I’m a fast learner. Maybe it’s this WordPress Views by Country that has me on this.
8. Too Old For Me Rich Guy – At this point in life this is my only route if I want to be photographed as the pretty young thing on someone’s arm. I mean Dick Van Dyke (86) just married a 40-year-old. That’s all I have to say about that –except that I love Dick Van Dyke, so I ain’t mad at her, or him.
9. The Dangerous Guy — “Sir, he drove off the building.” I don’t have a death or prison wish, I just like the Bourne movies. I could live off the grid for a while, with my five kids, and my minivan . . .
Anyway, I reserve the right to edit the above list. I also reserve the right to tick some of them off as — done!!
Oh,I forgot the most important one of all —
10. Really Nice Guy (Perhaps one day I’ll be able to insert his picture here.)
Just Me With . . . things to do.
I had five children in just under three and a half years. I had to improvise on some things.
Thankfully, my kids have all been healthy. Their gross motor skills developed early. Translated, that means as toddlers they were (are still) runners, climbers and jumpers.
Once somebody gave me one of those big plastic houses kids are supposed to play house in. I had space inside so I put in it the family room. Not once did my girls play house in it. No, no. They did, however, stand on top of it and jump off, repeatedly. Had to get rid of it. That cute little house was a safety hazard for my twins, two of whom I call Thelma and Louise . . . but I digress.
We had a long informal dining table, also given to us. With the leaves attached it sat eight people. It was just the size we needed. However, according to my Olympic monkey children it was also long enough to run across. Again, a safety hazard. The table wasn’t that long and once the toddler runs and reaches the end? BAM! No, this was not going to work. I’d caught the kids right before falls on previous table running attempts but sooner or later my luck would run out. My daily goal back then was just to stay out of the Emergency Room (and off the Six O’clock news).
Still, I needed a table, so it could not suffer the fate of the play house. The table and the children must learn to co-exist safely. But the children were still little, they were at that age where I could really only chase behind them. They had no concept of consequences, danger, or any real responsiveness to my voice — they were all,
“Oh I can run, I can climb. Therefore, I will run and I will climb — all the time.”
And all my parental, “No, Stop! Wait!!” and all that jazz — meant nothing.
Absolutely, nothing. Say it again, y’all . . .
Back to the problem. How to keep the girls off the table? (Later it’ll be how to keep them off the pole, but I digress again.) They could only get on the table by first climbing on the chairs, but simply moving the chairs away from the table had not worked. These minions simply pushed them back to the table and climbed up, then a sibling would follow and in a blink of an eye, I had a line-up of miniature Village People looking toddlers on a table.
No, no. I needed something more secure.
I think it started with a jump rope. No, I didn’t tie the children up (not then, heh heh heh).
But after every meal, I would push the chairs in, grab a rope, thread it through the chairs around the table and tie them up in a nice knot.
The children’s fine motor skills had not developed enough to untie the rope. They weren’t (yet) strong enough to pull the tied chairs away, though they tried.
I didn’t realize how weird it was until a friend from out-of-town came to visit. We sat at the table together, ate, fed the kids. When we were finished I cleared the table, got out the rope and proceeded to tie the chairs around the table while we were chatting away.
She stopped talking and said, carefully, slowly, like talking to a crazy person:
“What are you . . . doing?’
Oh snap, sometimes you don’t know how strange and dysfunctional you are until there is someone to see it.
Me: “You mean you don’t tie your chairs together after every meal?”
Just Me With . . . a rope after every meal.
Sometimes the kids did listen to me, even when I didn’t want them to. See, “Momma said, No!“
Here’s a fun fact: As children grow they develop fine motor skills.
So I did what everybody does, I told him, scolded him really:
“Do not ever unbuckle your car seat. It is not safe. Do you understand me? You will get a time-out for that! It is very, very, very important. Do you understand? ”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Him: “Yes, Momma.” He still called me Momma then.
He could tell when Momma wasn’t messing around. I was using my stern voice, my serious face and my angry eyes. Mission accomplished.
But my little Houdini is not my only kid. I had had five kids in all. The three-year-old was just the oldest. Twin girls, twice, came after. Yes, They are Twins, Yes, they are Twins, Too. Consequently, we didn’t get out much. Taking a preschooler, two toddlers and two infants to any store — well, this was not an outing that a person takes lightly. So sometimes when I had to run errands and my mother was with me we would buckle the kids in the car and my mom would stay with them while I would run in and out of stores. It got us out of the house, sometimes the kids would get their naps using this method, and it gave me a little break.
The very next day after the car seat unbuckling incident and lecture, my mom and I decided to load the kids and run some errands. We pulled into the local pharmacy and I ran in. As per usual, my Mom stayed with them in the car. I was gone only a few minutes.
When I came out, my mom was standing outside of the car, all five kids were still strapped in — inside.
The doors were closed.
“This can’t be good,” I thought.
My mother was distraught. Almost in tears.
“I can’t get in.” She said. “The babies started to cry and I got out to calm them down. I — I — I — closed the door . . . and now it’s locked.”
We, the adults, were locked out. The children were locked in. Turns out I was right. This wasn’t good. The keys were in the car.
I tried not to panic. After all, the car was running and the air conditioning was on, so they wouldn’t cook in there . . . but still, it’s not good to leave five children alone in a car and I didn’t know how much gas I had.
Options: I could run home and get an extra set of keys. But that would take too long, and my mother was losing it. I didn’t want to leave her alone with the kids. My husband was never really available during the day and worked too far away, anyway. I could call my Dad to do it, but he’s hard to get a hold of . . . so . . . I guess I’d have to call the police to break into the car. This was not a proud moment. “Why? Why, do I ever leave the house?” I wondered.
Well, hello there, Mr. Panic.
Then I remembered — my son — the big boy, the one who has motor skills!!! The boy can get out of his car seat and unlock the door!!! He has the ability. He has the manual dexterity. I’ve seen him do it — just yesterday. “It was worth a try,” I thought.
And so . . . one day after having scolded the boy for unbuckling his car seat and making him promise never to do it again —
I begged, “Honey,” I spoke kindly but loudly through the closed window, “Momma wants you to UNBUCKLE YOUR CAR SEAT and UNLOCK the door!”
He looked away from me. “Clearly,” his three-year-old mind must have reasoned, “This is some sort of test and I’m not going to fall for it, nope nope.”
I cooed, “No Honey, it’s okay, it’s okay, really, Momma says it’s okay, PLEASE get out and let us in. Please, you won’t be in trouble!!!! I promise!!!!”
I saw him roll his eyes toward the ceiling, away from me. His hands stayed at his sides. He was more still than any three-year-old could possibly be. It was impressive, really.
My mother was crying by this time and apologizing, she felt really, really badly. But I had to get to the kids.
Me to my statue-like son, “Honey, please. Please!!!!!! It’s okay, I promise. Get out of your car seat. Momma needs you to get out of your car seat! PLEASE!!!”
This child would not even acknowledge that I was talking to him. Again, it was impressive. And comical. I had literally just made him promise never to get himself out of his car seat and here I was begging him to do just that. It was like a sitcom.
“Pleeeeeeease!!!! Momma says it’s okay.” But that boy was NOT going to fall for my obvious trickery. “Momma said no,” he must have thought, “Momma said no.”
We had started to draw a crowd. I was beginning to tear up, too. The girls were useless, too young to manipulate their car seats, arms to short to reach the locks. And . . . they’d started to cry again.
This was not good.
In the end, my obedient son never unbuckled his car seat. Some nice gentleman drove me home (I wasn’t far, and thankfully I’d left the house unlocked). I got my spare keys and everybody was fine.
—- Except my mother. It took her a long time to recover.
We didn’t go out for a while after that and when we did, no matter what the kids were doing, my mother never got out of the car again.
Just Me With . . . five car seats, a mom, and a son who had learned his lesson, damn it.
On Twitter I dubbed it “The New Walk of Shame for The Single Woman — Going Out Alone,” though there’s nothing really shameful about it. It’s just not something that I want to be so . . . obvious, or frequent for that matter. But of course it is what it is.
Still, as I walked out of my house in the ‘burbs, wearing a little black top, jeans and heels on a Saturday evening right before nightfall, I felt the little ick. Perhaps under cover of darkness I would have felt differently. After all, I was just going out. I wasn’t turning tricks or anything. (Ironically, even prostitutes are usually getting into a car with someone. Not me. Solo all the way.) Still, I felt weird, exposed.
In the first place, I hadn’t felt like going out at all. I was exhausted and frankly, tired of going places alone, tired of driving. I also hadn’t been sleeping well and had forgotten to eat — again. See, Confessions of a Skinny Mom. Additionally, I tend to be “melancholy” (sounds so much better than clinically depressed) and it’s hard for me to get out — yet that is exactly what I must do, or so I’m told. Plus, I really hate driving and this was going to be about a thirty minute ride. On the other hand, had I stayed home, well, there may have been tears or chores or nothing special, followed by guilt and anger for the tears, chores or nothing special. See Weekends Off. I would have beaten myself up for not going out on the one of two nights a month when the kids are gone and when this time, coincidentally– luckily, there was actually someplace where I could go — alone. Oh yeah, there was a whole carnival fun house of competing emotions going on my head. So I forced myself to go out. This again is where it is helpful to have people with you. When required to meet someone or when a friend is picking you up, you can’t bail. That little voice that says “just stay home” is naturally squelched. But when going out alone, well, a woman can change her mind at the last minute. A woman’s prerogative. No one would be disappointed, no one would be left waiting, no one would be the wiser. I confess that I have driven myself places, or attempted to drive myself places and gotten lost, not found parking, etc. and ended up turning around and going home without ever having left the car. This has happened, more than once.
On this particular night I got the ick walking to my car. It probably hadn’t helped that I’d just watched the Season Five Sex And The City Episode where Carrie does not have a “Plus One” for her big book release party and admits to loneliness, Charlotte admits to not liking the sound of talking about her divorce and Miranda avoids telling a man she’s become a mother. All three of those hit home for me.
So as I walked to my car to go out, my feeling was somewhat reminiscent of the traditional “Walk of Shame” home that a woman makes in broad daylight, wearing the same clothes from the night before. That look screams: “You had somebody last night, you were doing something all night, but now you’re on your own, and everybody knows it.”
I felt like the walk to my car in daylight and heels screamed: “Single woman, all alone and trying to get some action.” It’s my own paranoia, fueled by the fact that I’ve been known to “people watch,” and I know that if I saw myself going out like that in daylight — alone on a Saturday evening— I’d say,
“I wonder where she’s going?“
I just wanted to get in my car as quickly as possible.
I realize that the fact that I play music gives me a huge advantage for going out alone. Music provides me with night-time activities, like jam sessions, or going out to listen to other musicians I know play, where I can have a really good excuse for being alone, even in bars. This particular event was a jam session/fundraiser for a music studio run by a guy I’d gone to school with many years ago. I’m on his mailing list and get impersonal invitations all the time. I’d never gone before. I’d never really seriously considered going. But this was going to be the night that I would actually go, damn it. I felt obligated — not to him — but to me. It was a timing thing. It was a night I could go, and a place to go.
The studio was at a location I’d never been to, in the part of the city where I’ve gotten lost more than once. But it is a new world now. I wasn’t really traveling alone, not anymore — now I had my new best friend Miss GPS, who right now is a very polite British woman. Let’s call her Emma. Emma tells me when to turn and when to “take the Motorway.” I programmed Emma and she guided my journey. Once I “reached my destination” and parked, I checked in with my Twitter friends, who were giving me the thumbs up for going out alone.
Okay. Lipstick on, glasses off. Valuables (meaning Emma) hidden, car locked. I retrieved the entry code for the security door from my email invitation and was ready to go. Following the prompts, I entered the code on the door.
Unfortunately, the call went directly to voicemail, which was full! Crap. No one was answering to buzz me in.
I tried again, repeatedly. This is when having someone with me might have been helpful. You know, someone to complain to, bounce ideas off of . . . someone to make me not look so stupid. I mean, picture it, a woman alone, dressed for going out, in an iffy neighborhood, standing in front of a building and —– no one is buzzing her in!
Tragic, I tell you. Tragic.
I went back to the safety of my car. Safe, that is, from the public humiliation of being rejected by a security entry door. I was about to tweet about my epic failure of the night and go home, when, out of the corner of my eye I saw that someone had opened the door. It was my Knight in Shining Armor (or, more accurately, some guy in a Lucky Brand Jeans Tee-Shirt)! Yay! Someone had been sent down to let me in! My calls were not unanswered! I was not going to be left alone in my car to do the drive of shame back home. I was going in!
The Lucky Brand guy whom I’d never met showed me upstairs in the not completely renovated warehouse type building, walking me down long narrow hallways of exposed brick. We took the freight elevator up. I wondered for a moment whether I should have told someone where I was going so that if I were to say — go missing — my loved ones would have a general location to give to the police for questioning.
But no worries, I safely entered the studio, full of people who were not scary. I panicked for a split second when I didn’t see the only guy I expected to know. But he was there, and when he saw me, he gave me a hug and said,
“What a nice surprise.”
First part of my mission had been accomplished. I had arrived, alone, albeit slightly overdressed. But I was there. Doing the visual room check it appeared that most people came with someone, of course. Some were couples, some were related, some were friends. While the people were open with introductions, they mostly talked to each other. I immediately joined the jam, avoiding the standing alone awkwardness. When I wasn’t playing I parked myself in an area to watch and listen (and where, by design, I didn’t have to talk). One other good (or bad) thing about music events is that a person can be there and never really have a conversation at all and, more importantly, the lack of conversation is not so obvious. This makes my attendance “minus a Plus One” a little less alone, and it comes as quite a relief to my road dog, Ms. Social Anxiety, who is often with me, even if no one else can see her . . . bwa ha ha ha.
In the end, though, I got out of the house, out of my neighborhood, and stepped out of the box (a different type of music, even played a different instrument for a little while). Plus, I do love music. And it is absolutely true that music brings people together without any talking at all — it breaks down both language and more importantly for me, social barriers, and really, how cool is that?
My English Electronic Friend Emma and I returned home safely — under cover of darkness.
Just Me With . . . no shame after a night out, alone.
And I got hit on . . . Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend?
I used to teach seminars relating to discrimination in the workplace, specifically, sexual harassment. You know, those annoying people brought in to identify improper workplace behavior and talk about how to respond, etc.
Well, one fine Spring I was sent to a company to teach a series of these seminars. I stood, mostly, in front of a class for three hours at a pop. What was different about this time was that I was pregnant — with twins. You know how women “show” more quickly with the second pregnancy? Well, with twins it’s even faster. However, I hadn’t told anyone at my job that I was pregnant — again. One pregnancy was tolerated in my white shoe law firm, but two? Oh no.
So I was trying to do the “pregnant professional woman hide your pregnancy” thing as long as possible. I was about four months along, looked bigger, but mostly in the belly, hips and thighs. There was one skirt suit I could still wear if I didn’t button it. It was the kind with a longish jacket that required no blouse and a matching skirt just above the knees. Professional, but not stuffy. But, because of the pregnancy, it was tight. Yeah, that skirt was screaming.
And I was tired. I had a two hour commute to the location of this particular seminar and I was pregnant and bloated and uncomfortable in my non-maternity clothes. Plus, I couldn’t even complain to anybody because it was my big secret.
At the seminar I talked incessantly about the hostile work environment kind of sexual harassment where it’s not that someone is saying have sex with me to keep your job, but where the environment is sexually charged and makes an employee uncomfortable because of his/her gender. You know, unwanted touching, dirty jokes, leering, flashing, and I talked about how dressing provocatively could make co-workers uncomfortable. I noted that sometimes bad behavior is not legally actionable harassment but there simply needs to be a conversation. Often the offending party doesn’t even know he or she has made someone uncomfortable, I explained. These required seminars can be a pain, but the important thing employees are supposed to get out of them is that they understand the law a bit, along with the corporate policies, and most importantly, they know what to do if there is a — situation.
The seminars went well, people stayed awake and were engaged. I felt like crap, though. and was so, so very tired. Any chance I got during the program, I would perch on a desk.
After the seminar, a woman came up to me to ask a question, or so I thought. She really wanted to inform me that while I was up front discussing inappropriate behavior, and how people act and dress in ways at work that make others uncomfortable,
. . . the whole class could see up my too tight skirt.
I played it off and said that this is exactly what I was talking about. My “reveal” was accidental and I, of course, did not mean to make anyone uncomfortable. I thanked her for coming forward and offered my apologies if I offended her. (By her demeanor, I clearly had offended her.) She said that she thought I’d want to know since I was talking about all “that stuff.”
Epilogue: Told work about my pregnancy when I got back. Switched to maternity clothes immediately.
Just Me With . . . an unintentional crotch shot and the ability to laugh at myself.