I have to admit, I'm making progress. I still can't bend the wrist too well, but I can easily turn my hand over. The splint hurts more than the hand, so I must confess I'm typing without it. For the moment, anyway.
So Saturday night, I went out to dinner with my friend Andy. To make a long story rather short, we ended up at Dixie’s on Grand….one of my favorite places. Andy decided I needed a Hendrick's martini. I'm not martini person...but this could change my mind. It was cucumber...and refreshing...and really good. But the really fun event of the night was the girl (like the junior son's age) and her boyfriend on the other side of Andy.
When the boyfriend went off to find out about the shuttle bus to Crashed Ice, she turned her attention to Andy. This girl-child is hitting on Andy and she is attempting to make me disappear. She was working so hard at getting him to focus on her that I just had to lean back to watch. It was a total out of body experience. Now, Andy and I are about the same age. We graduated high school the same year...1970, okay? Andy is silver-haired and one very good-looking guy. Wonderfully oblivious to her "charms" (which I thought were sorely lacking) Andy had the befuddled look down pat. He was diligently trying to continue the rather interesting conversation we were having... but it was kinda hard. Finally, thankfully, the boyfriend came back and removed her.
Laughing about it later, Andy said, “I saw you drop into observer-mode.” He was right. That’s exactly what I did. I aided and abetted this child by leaning back on the bar stool and functionally disappearing from view.
Why would I do something like that? I rail against the invisibility of widows all the time. It’s one aspect of my relatively new status that drives me completely nutty.
That said, this invisibility stuff isn’t exactly an unusual expectation. Take the GOP for example. They would be happy if all women of intellect just disappeared. Just this past week, Cathrynn Brown, a state representative in New Mexico, a shining light of neo-feminist thought, called us all potential crime scenes. She actually wrote a bill stating anyone who got an abortion after rape or incest was guilty of tampering with a crime scene and could be prosecuted. Excuse me? We can now be objectified as locations?
Chugging along the same track, an op-ed piece in the NY Times (29JAN2013: The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy) discusses the “Kelly Girl” temp worker as not a disappearing phenomenon, but rather as a model thriving today. This stuff is scary. In 1958, a Kelly Girl exec told the NYT:
Instead of seeking to replace “breadwinning” union jobs with low-wage temp work, temp agencies went the culturally safer route: selling temp work for housewives who were (allegedly) only working for pin money. As a Kelly executive told The New York Times in 1958, “The typical Kelly Girl… doesn’t want full-time work, but she’s bored with strictly keeping house. Or maybe she just wants to take a job until she pays for a davenport or a new fur coat.”
That temp model has become the staple of a whole lotta business today where the worker, even with benefits, is invisible, disposable, and otherwise marginalized. And usually women. The attitude just hasn’t kept up with the slogans and the rhetoric. And the reality hasn't either. Contract workers are not all well paid. Many work with little or no benefits and certainly no safety net.
On the other hand, maybe being a widow is a bit like being a canary in a coal mine. We are too often invisible to our own communities and painfully aware of the atmosphere that surrounds us. Other women often turn away, as if they could catch what we have. But we’re still here and we refuse to throw ourselves on the funeral pyre. That said, many of us are still not comfortable enough to stand on a chair and yell, “HEY! I’M STILL FUNCTIONAL EVEN IF I DON’T HAVE A SPOUSE.”
I have no words of wisdom, suggestions, or anything else to say about how to fix it. Once upon a time, I was probably one of the guilty ones. What I can do, however, is spend my capital making sure women in general aren’t reduced to invisibility. We have the right to self-determination. We have the right to equal pay for equal work. We have the right to apply for any job for which we are physically, mentally, or intellectually capable of performing. We will not be defined by possession of a uterus. And we will not be shoved aside because we are capable of bearing children.
And little girl at the bar….I will not disappear because I have grey hair and years of experience. You think I’m outré? Guess again, sweetie. You just dream about knowing what I already know.
Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
When feeling invisible, steal a glance in a mirror.
If you can see yourself, you're still here.