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Oh, to be a girly-girl! - It seemed like a good idea at the time... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Oh, to be a girly-girl! [Feb. 18th, 2007|08:18 am]
[Current Music |Kate Bush, Red Shoes]

So the whole changing the tire thing, with several men offering to help (I have to admit, I covered myself by telling them to go shop for their groceries and if I was still struggling when they came back out...just in case some f-nut mechanic had tightened the lug nuts beyond my ability to get them off), and several women remarking that they'd have to call AAA or wait for someone to help them, wasn't it wonderful that I could take care of it myself.

And I thought, my back and knees aching from crouching, my newly cleaned coat covered in salt and dirt, my gloves blackened and crusted with dirt and road schmutz, one knuckle bleeding...actually, wouldn't it be nice if I COULDN'T take care of it myself and was powerless to do anything but stand around and watch some guy take care of it for me. And then head off to work, hands and clothes clean, hair still perfectly coiffed, no oil stains on my knees, no back in need of naproxen.

(Oh, c'mon, you knew even BEFORE I told you, that all my fantasies would center around being powerless and helpless. Don't even try to act shocked.)

Which got me to thinking about my mother's friend, Valerie. Now my Mom obviously grew up in an earlier era, and as a former deb from Northern VA, in the intelligence community, she knows where the pickle fork goes, but isn't going to be changing any damn tire on her own, not when she's got a AAA card. Still, she's far more likely to just deal with something, fix it herself, solve the problem, mow the lawn, pull on rubber gloves and put that dead possum in the garbage...than wait for some guy to take care of it. If nothing else, she'll pick up the phone and find someone she can pay to take care of the problem.

And I'm even worse, growing up in the days when women were still trying to prove that they could do anything. Plus, I'm physically strong, impatient and pig-headed and years of taking care of a barn full of horses all by myself, with the attendant physical challenges of 100 pound sacks of grain, 1500 pound animals with teeth and hooves, an assortment of vermin, drainage issues, fencing, wiring, medical emergencies, euthanasia...all with a father that was on the road most of the time, a brother who was...allergic to physical labor, and Mom, who's come a long way in terms of squeamish, but the barn wasn't her territory. Really, asking for help is not my first response to a situation.

(The only time I ever saw Bagel speechless: we were working on the Virginia site and were trying to lift a section of fencing. I went to pick up my side and said "Dude, this is too heavy, I can't lift it." After a few moments of silence, he said that he never expected to hear me say that, ever and decided that if I couldn't, then he probably shouldn't.)

But my Mom's friend, Valerie...never does anything "icky or hard" herself. She has a whole stable of men in town who will come and "take care of things" for her. Mouse in her basement, she calls my Dad and he runs right over to set traps. (With my mother at home, fuming "How come when there's a mouse in our house, it's a natural part of country living and I should respect the circle of life?") Within a few hours, there's an entire rotation of men who will be coming by her house to regularly check the traps, because of course, she can't go downstairs until the mice are all gone, live OR dead.

Car troubles? Someone's calling AAA for her, and driving her around until it's all taken care of. Roof leaking? A veritable army of guys climbing around to solve the problem. If professional help needs to be called in, half the time, her "helpers" wind up taking care of the call, the bill, everything. She comes home from work and someone else's husband has spent the day at her house taking care of it.

Look, she's charming as hell, looks fabulous for her age, but isn't some slutty ditz...she's a very capable person, but very, very comfortable admitting that she can't handle something. And comfortable letting other people deal with the problem for her. And the English accent doesn't hurt. Damn her.

It's become a code word for my Mom and me. "I was thinking of Valerie today" is our shorthand for having to handle something ourselves.

I'm mowing the lawn, and it's clear that the STBX's neglect has taken its toll on the lawn mower, the handle is coming off, the bolt long gone, but I've got it wired up until I get to home depot, after all, today is the only day I have a free hour and if I don't mow it now, it'll be almost a week until I have another chance...and suddenly the damn thing quits on me. And I can't get it started again -- the blade is resistant to turning and I can't quite figure out why.

And a neighbor guy comes out, walks over..."What happened, it quit on you?"

And I think, "Finally, my Valerie moment." After all, I was a little disappointed -- with the STBX deployed and being all alone with the house, the animals, I did have fantasies that maybe someone would offer to...oh, I dunno mow the lawn occasionally or take care of my leaves or clean out the gutters or...but finally, here it was! This guy was going to offer to fix my lawn mower and I was going to let him. As a matter of fact, I was going to let him finish mowing the lawn if he asked! Screw independence!

"Yeah, I can't get it started again and I'm really jammed -- this is the only time I have to mow it and I've got an hour before I have to shower and head out to a meeting. And I won't be able to get back to it for days -- by then the lawn will be over my knees." And I wait for it. I'm gonna be a total girl about it.

And he says "That sucks. You really need to slow down some, you're running around all of the time." And then he gets out his keys and gets into his car.

Ack! I've seen this guy help other women in the neighborhood with projects. He's got tools, he's handy. He likes me. I wanted to yell "Hey, no, don't let me fool you, just because I have it turned upside down and am fiddling with it, doesn't mean I know what I'm doing!" Damn. I should have just let it sit upright and stood there looking pathetic. Been irrationally afraid that it would start up on its own and cut off my fingers if I tried to fix it.

Yeah, I got it fixed eventually. I gave it the ol' Yankee repair. That's when you just keep fiddling and dicking around with an object, not really doing anything in particular, just fiddling beyond the time when normal people would've given up, until finally the machine says "fine, fine, I'll start working again, just leave me the hell alone!"

And, truthfully, this same guy, two weeks later, saw me mowing again and came out with his tool kit and fixed the handle for real. And I let him. Although, I have to admit, I felt like a total tool just standing there, watching him handle it.