There are certain patterns from High School that seem to play out throughout life. No matter how far the years carry me from my high school days, or how few people I still know from those days, the patterns seem to remain the same. Let it be known that one of those patterns, the female popularity competition, is alive and well and thriving in the American workplace.
Now, I’ll admit, I may be a bit uneasier around these shows of female superiority than other women. The fact is that, aside from growing breasts, menstruating and exercising my reproductive cavities I am a failure at most things “womanly” (and let’s face it, I pretty much phoned it in on each of those accounts and let Mother Nature take over!). I’ve never been a girly girl. I’m not the cheerleader type, I can’t sew, barely cook, and have never scrap-booked. I grew up a tomboy. It was so much easier to hang out with the guys than with the girls. They had reasonably low expectations of their friends. I proved that I could burp on command, do a brodey in a “borrowed” Camaro and throw a punch. All that was accomplished in one day and I was part of the group. All it took to impress the guys was to show up at school and be the first to say, “Dude. My mom totally bought me the new Mötley Crüe cassette and it rocks!” (That’s right bitches, I said “cassette”, I went to school during a time when, with enough determination and hatred, you could bind your high school nemesis to a flagpole with your choice in music!).
That pattern has carried through into my adult life. While other mothers spend their time finely crafting their legacy by taking their children to volunteer in soup kitchens, to piano lessons and Shakespeare festivals my own children know how to burp on command, throw a mean combination of punches and kicks, and have a healthy appreciation for southern rock and the innovative career of Tony Hawk. And, that is how I found myself terribly unprepared for the Female Superiority Contest (FSC from here on out) that took place recently.
The FSC, like all others in high school started simply enough. One of the girly-girls asked, “Hey, do you know what would be totally fun for us to do?” And, at some point, another girly-girl seconded that motion with an, “Oh. My. God. We should totally do that!” Pretty soon the entire cheerleading squad was involved. As were the jocks, the geeks, the band, glee club and the faculty. And they were all looking at me expectantly. And for some reason my head began to nod, and the words, “Sure. Yeah. Great.”, screeched from my mouth. I had committed to the FSC. There were rules and regulations. Before I knew it, I was not only expected to participate but I had to commit to routine, no winging it for this FSC. Now I’m preparing and practicing. Each day that brought me closer to the FSC made me more nervous and certain that I would fail miserably and prove myself unworthy of all the feminine gifts I’ve been granted (and I’ve got to be honest, sometimes you just want to punch someone, and those are the times that PMS is really a great excuse gift). I consulted with professionals, changed my routine and practiced some more.
The day of the FSC, I was confident going in. I presented my glorious achievement to the group and prepared to finally be acknowledged as a contributing member of the female alliance.
And I waited.
Maybe they didn’t notice at first my amazing contribution. I tried to subtlely point out my own craft among those assembled.
“I don’t want to be obnoxious.” I reasoned. I’ll just wait. Certainly someone noticed. I joined in the congratulations and adulation of the contributions of all the others.
Still– no mention of my own glistening achievement.
I left that day without a single word. Am I an absolute dud? Was all my hard work and stress for naught? Do I lack that one code in my genetic makeup that would predispose me to succeed in womanly pursuits? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know one thing. One fact that is more certain to me than any other: it’ll be a cold day in hell before I take part in another fucking potluck!