Thursday, December 6, 2012
Mamakat's Marvelous Prompt: 1.) Something you learned in college.
When I arrived at Southwest Texas State University, the only person I knew was my roommate Cathy. Cathy and I had been "besties" in junior high, and had kept in touch even after my dad got stationed at Walter Reed. The Cathy that I knew, however, was awkward and socially inept, just like me. This new and improved Cathy was blonder, perkier. She had contacts now, instead of the glasses she used to wear. She had been a cheerleader, fer gosh sakes! I couldn't even do the splits. Cathy was confident, happy in her new skin. I was not.
Since she was the only person that I knew, I stuck to her like white on rice. I hadn't been in the state of Texas for some time, and it was best to hang with the natives until I got my bearings. So we hung out, walking to classes together, eating together, etc. We made a couple of friends and hung out with them, laughing and joking. When it was just us, Cathy was intelligent and witty. She looked us in the eye. She told us what she thought.
When boys were around, however, Cathy became different.
It wasn't flirting. Flirting would imply some form of equality. From my perspective, Cathy's behavior seemed to be closer to sycophancy.
Cathy simpered. She preened. She admired flaccid biceps. She laughed at inane jokes. She did the classic hair flip, the one that sociologists seek grants to study. She asked questions about topics to which she knew the answer. I even caught her batting her eye lashes! Whatever the boys said, Cathy seemed to hang on every word.
This was completely weird to me. Why was my usually intelligent friend acting so oddly? Had she been abducted and replaced by pod people? I was astonished, but intrigued, because her behavior seemed to work.
Guys loved that stuff. They puffed up their chests, performing as much muscle flexing as they could without being obvious. Almost all men smiled at Cathy while she performed, and many acted as though they would do anything for her that involved showing off their muscles. Men bought her beers, asked for her phone number, and actually called her! Was she using those mysterious 'feminine wiles' that I'd read about in my mother's magazines? Is THAT what all the fuss was about?
I was appalled.
I was flabbergasted.
At least, at first.
As I watched Cathy, I suffered a bit of a moral dilemma. I wanted to have admirers. I wanted to go on dates. I wanted a bit of romance. On the one hand, I didn't think that one should have to simper or preen when meeting men. On the other hand, free stuff--affection, adoration, and food and beer. Cathy was getting free things, and attention, with little effort. I was amazed.
I wanted that, too. It would mean acting a bit, pretending to be less intelligent, but I thought that I should at least try. After all, feminine wiles had been part of the toolbox for women for centuries. I was just joining the club.