* Take multiple exercise classes per day. Take so many, in fact, that you have no time for men and totally lose sight of why you’re trying to get thin in the first place: “Ms. Greisman, who is single, said she often forfeits other social events for her workouts — ‘the gym is where my friends are,’ she said — and does not make plans on Saturday apart from three of her favorite classes, which run from 11:45 a.m. to nearly 5 p.m. Dating, she mused, ‘would be challenging.'”
* Last but not least, corsets! “Getting the look requires some grit. Tugging on a faja can become a desperate bout of woman versus fabric. Flesh must be coaxed inside, battened down by hooks and, finally, sealed with a zipper that can force the air out of your lungs. ‘The first day you can’t stand it,’ Ms. Murillo said. ‘But then it loosens it up.'”
My new thing: Inadvertently picking up boys by reading Hemingway in a public place.
SCENE: Uptown 1 train during rush hour
CHARACTERS: A whole train full of them, leaving only scattered seats available for our heroine, ESTER, who carries a purse, a tote bag, and a paperback copy of The Sun Also Rises. She navigates her way towards an empty spot next to a young white male HIPSTER, with unwashed hair and metal stuff in his face, who is sprawled casually across several seats. His feet rest against the pole.
HIPSTER: That’s a good book.
ESTER: [smiles politely, like she always does when strange men speak to her uninvited.]
HIPSTER: [louder] That’s a good book!
ESTER: Uh huh! [unspoken: Actually, I’m finding it pretty boring, but I’d like to keep reading, so if you –]
HIPSTER: I love Hemingway. He’s so great.
ESTER: Yeah! Well, except, his voice does seem pretty similar book to book. I just read A Moveable Feast and —
ESTER: It’s his memoir of life in Paris. You should read it — it has F. Scott Fitzgerald in it.*
HIPSTER: [blank stare]
ESTER: Anyway, it strikes me as funny that the narrator there is essentially exactly the same as the narrator in this one — and this one’s supposed to be fiction.
HIPSTER: But that’s the thing! It’s all HIM. It’s so real.
ESTER: Sure! And he seems so happy, drinking, living in Europe, meeting women …
[HIPSTER smiles suggestively. He is good-looking, although not as good-looking as he thinks he is, and his feet are still on the pole. He is taking up enough space for at least three people.]
HIPSTER: Yeah. He had the life!
ESTER: Yeah! The details are so strange, though. He’s totally into cataloging exactly what he ate, what he drank, and then the streets he took to get home to his apartment in Paris, but then his wife has a baby and you don’t hear anything about that til the kid is 6 weeks old. I guess it’s no surprise he got divorced. … And then he killed himself.
HIPSTER: Yeah! What’s up with that? Isn’t that weird?
ESTER: Seriously. To go all around the world, sleep with everyone, be a writer, eat and drink and have a great time, and then blow your head off in Idaho. … Here’s my stop! Have a nice day.
* The best part of that entire book is a conversation between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway in a cafe where Fitzgerald confesses that Zelda told him his penis is too small to give a woman pleasure and he is now terminally insecure about it. Hemingway takes him into the bathroom to see, tells him it’s fine, and then takes him to the Louvre to look at naked statues. Even that doesn’t alleviate poor Fitzgerald’s concern. But you have to admit, Papa was a good friend.
This contender for “best comment ever” appears on a Gray Lady article called “The Mommy Penalty,” documenting the damage done to women’s salary prospects after they take off time to have kids. Doctors fare better than MBAs; PhDs fall somewhere in the middle. Starbucks employees? Who cares? Not the NYT!
But that’s not important right now. What’s important is, this man (who sure does love his exclamation points!) has probably never spent several hours pacing in the dark while carrying, and singing to, an inconsolable infant who is squalling and leaking fluids onto his shoulder.
If I had to choose between repeating that night I spent babysitting a six-month-old and “material riches,” you’re damn right I would dive for the MBA — or the MBA, or the PhD –, and so would he. I mean, if the tedious, thankless work of keeping babies alive is “priceless,” why the hell doesn’t he do it?
Judging by the resounding silence that greeted his comment — if you listen hard, you can even hear cyber-crickets! — the Gray Lady’s fan base agrees with me.
I think it’s most worth noting that “I forgot Obama was black”–in all its iterations–is something that white people should stop saying, if only because it’s really dishonest. One way to think about this is to flip the frame. Around these parts, we’ve been known, from time to time, to chat about the NFL. We’ve also been known to chat about the intricacies of beer. If you hang around you’ll notice that there are no shortage of women in these discussions. Having read a particularly smart take on Brett Favre, or having received a good recommendations on a particular IPA, it would not be a compliment for me to say, “Wow, I forgot you were a woman.” Indeed, it would be pretty offensive.
The problems is three-fold. First, it takes my necessarily limited, and necessarily blinkered, experience with the fairer sex and builds it into a shibboleth of invented truth. Then it takes that invented truth as a fair standard by which I can measure one’s “woman-ness.” So if football and beer don’t fit into my standard, I stop seeing the person as a woman. Finally instead of admitting that my invented truth is the problem, I put the onus on the woman. Hence the claim “I forgot you were a woman,” as opposed to “I just realized my invented truth was wrong.”
Ditto for Chris Matthews. The “I forgot Obama was black” sentiment allows the speaker the comfort of accepting, even lauding, a black person without interrogating their invented truth. It allows the speaker a luxurious ignorance–you get to name people (this is what black is) even when you don’t know people. In fact, Chris Matthews didn’t forget Barack Obama was black. Chris Matthews forgot that Chris Matthews was white.
I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time. You know all the fuss about Joshua Bell’s unheralded rush hour performance in the DC subway system, and how everyone was gasping for days about how they couldn’t believe such a travesty could take place and how it was a sign of the apocalypse, the deadening of the senses of the modern age?