My story today will have to be brief alas. I’m working in a coffee shop so that I don’t have to go home and clean my house. Normally, I feel that the pre-writing session houseclean can be an invigorating, zesty enterprise, and that it, in general, clears the head, raises the heart rate, calms the spirit, and organizes thinking. Today, however, the house is a disaster. And I don’t know where to start.
Also, the internet doesn’t work. So I’m here. In a coffeeshop. Pretending to work.
(No! Actually working! In a minute. After this blog post.)
Anyway, I wanted to tell you a quick story. A quick story that involves the things we learn from men.
This man, specifically:
This weekend, my husband and I scored some cheapish tickets to see U2 (and holy hell, y’all, that was an amazing concert; but I digress) and we hired a babysitter to watch the children. We showed her how to stream the Netflix on to the television, and told her that the kids could watch anything streamable as long as it was rated PG and we left them to their own devices and had a magnificent time.
The next morning, while having breakfast with my eleven year old, I got the run-down of the evening – who listened, who was naughty, who was a pain in the butt, etc. (Interestingly, all three kids had different interpretations of who, exactly, should fall under which category.)
“What movie did you end up watching?” I asked.
“Labyrinth,” she said.
“Nice,” I said. Because I love that movie. Even though it definitively and irrevocably destroyed my childhood innocence when I watched it, right when I was about her age….Hmm. I decided to investigate.
“It’s been a while since you saw that movie,” I said.
“Yeah,” she said. “I had forgotten a lot of it. It’s still good. It’s just…”
She knitted her brow.
She chose her words carefully.
“There are some movies that you just…… Well, you just learn a lot from them, you know?”
“I do,” I said. “What did you learn from this one?”
She pressed her fingers to her lips and breathed through her nose. “First of all,” she said, “little yappy dogs aren’t cute at all. They’re annoying.”
“Indeed,” I said.
“And that little brothers can be annoying, but it’s also annoying when people are annoyed by their little brothers, you know? Or acting annoyed is annoying.”
“This is true,” I said. “I never thought of it that way.” (Which is a lie.)
“Also?” She drank her juice. She leaned in and lowered her voice. “And this is the most important thing: a person should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever.” She paused. “Ever. Never ever trust a man who wears tight pants.”
She took a few bites of her cereal.
“I mean, not ever.”
“I’m with ya,” I said.
“Pants like that just scream untrustworthiness.“
“That’s just good advice, my love,” I said.
She shuddered. “They shouldn’t have been allowed, mom,” she said. “They just shouldn’t have been allowed.”
I know, honey.
And it seems to me that a lot of women of my cohort and younger had a similar Labyrinth-moment – a David-Bowie-ification of the nacent sexual development of the female of the species. And I wonder how widespread it is. Is this just limited to the girls who were geeky in girlhood, or the girls of geeky parents? Are we the only one who gazed in horror at David Bowie’s Goblin King costume and found ourselves suddenly terrified of growing up? Or is this a nationwide phenomenon?
And this, of course, is not to knock Mr. Bowie, who I actually adore – Seventies glam forever! – and whose song “Life on Mars” is one of my all-time favorites. Still, those pants should not have been allowed.
Puberty, man. It’s a frickin’ mine field.