We all love hearing stories about how people met, but no one likes it when the story is too good. Example: My friend’s daughter met her now-husband on a train to Paris, when both of them were returning from seeing the Dalai Lama in Rome. No one wants to hear that.
“Kyle and I met in the Congo, where we were doing medical mission work. One day, we showed up to get our quinine pills at the same time, and it was love at first sight.”
Everyone who hears those kind of golden stories groans audibly, and then feels bad that they met their spouse at a football game when one of them puked on the other late in the third quarter.
A friend of mine, whenever he hears any kind of golden “how we met” story, puffs his chest out proudly and says, “Shit, I met my wife in the back alley behind the bus station. She was doing crack, whack, smack and some guy named Jack when I found her.” And then he augments this beautiful statement by scratching himself and belching.
Sometimes people meet under mundane circumstances, but get married under odd ones. My friend Bob, for instance, was at a bar with his girlfriend when he made an offhand statement – something to the affect of, “If we got married, I’d want to get a gerbil.” His girlfriend, hearing only the part that served her purposes, squealed, “We’re getting married?! Oh my gosh, YES!” and the bartender, sensing an opportunity to capitalize on the situation for monetary gain, grabbed a bottle of champagne, toasted the happy couple, and led the entire bar in a celebration of the engagement. Bob played along so as not to embarrass her, and next thing he knew, the wedding snowball was rolling downhill and he was at the altar. The marriage didn’t last, shockingly.
I think my spirit animal is a gerbil, speaking of rodents, because walking on my wheel in a cage covered in my own mess pretty much sums up my life, which is utterly lacking in any element of glamour. My life as a reality TV show would feature cliffhangers like, “Last week, she took clothes out of the dryer to fold. Will she put the clothes away this week, or will they remain on the dining room table?” * cue the dramatic music * And more recently, “Will she get the cat puke off her research in time to write her paper?”
That’s a true story. I left a bunch of source material on my bed one night (my working theory being that if I slept with it, I could absorb it via osmosis, rather than actually reading it), and came home from the morning school run to discover that one of the cats had yacked all over everything. See what I mean about the glamour?
I will say, though, that I would not trade glamour for the constant bickering that constitutes so-called reality television. This will come as a shock to some of you, but my girlfriends and I don’t fight — not at soccer games, or dance recitals, or even at PTA meetings. (Of course, we also have the lips we were born with and foreheads that move, so it could be that there is a direct correlation between silicone, Botox, and being a vicious bitch. I don’t know, I’m not a scientist.)
We all know that “reality” TV is scripted and edited for maximum tension, but who decided that the mean girls from 8th grade needed a public platform, anyway? Are we meant to interpret women behaving badly – being rude, pejorative, unnecessarily combative, constantly trying to assert their opinions and agendas to the detriment of everyone else’s — as women being powerful? What it looks and sounds like isn’t power, but rather walking, talking bundles of insecurity looking to dominate other women in order to validate their own opinions and actions.
Here’s the thing: your presence on Earth was validated the day you were born. You are on your own path, your own timeline. It is not necessary to justify your journey to anyone else; it’s between you and your God. If you understand this, then there’s very little reason to get riled up about what anyone else is doing — particularly people who don’t even live in your house!
“You know, Tanya made a really good point when she was screaming at me. Right after she said I looked like the spawn of Bozo the Clown and Godzilla, and just before she swung her purse at me, she mentioned that I’ve been drinking more than usual. I think she really cares about me, and wants the best for me.” –Said No one, ever.
My friends are not doormats; don’t be mistaken about that. They’re tough, they’re creative, they have generous spirits and are quick to laugh, they make the world a better place by being in it. And they are all powerful, in that they are doing their thing without having to demean anyone else to do it. They make me think of that great quote from Margaret Thatcher – she of the brass balls and iron fist – about power:
They don’t have to tell anyone that they are powerful, or that they are ladies, because it’s obvious in the way they conduct themselves, and in the kindness and empathy they put out in the universe.
The point it, whatever your story is – whether you met your beloved vaccinating children in Uganda or standing in the keg line at a frat party, whether your life is where you want it to be now or you’re still working to get there – tell it! Sing it out.
Do it for Margaret.