I can fit into a lot of places. Even places I’d rather not belong. It’s my nature–or more correctly, a learned behavior I’ve carried with me since childhood. My ex-husband used to accuse me of being insincere, and I would argue that I was simply adaptable. To this day, I stand by adaptable.
On Saturday, Chesaning held its annual car show. My husband’s friend and his wife always host a party afterwards; Jim and I have never missed one of Darren’s car club parties. Women/wives/girlfriends don’t usually show up–the party isn’t any more than a bunch of dudes standing around, drinking beer and talking shop. I fit right in, having been raised in a garage by a father who rebuilds cars, and has won several trophies. I’m always the cool chick at the shindig because little is lost on me. I’m one of the dudes, and I’m fucking hilarious. Plus, Jim and I are best friends; if I’m not welcome, he’s not fucking going either.
This year, for some reason, the wives of the car club decided that Darren’s party needed food, and well…the wives. So, there was a pot luck of unoriginal cold pasta dishes, grilled meats, loud ass kids, and giggling women with French manicures dressed in designer “mom” clothes standing around drinking sweet fruity rum drinks, and bitching about how much time their men spend on pampering their classic cars.
I was invited into this clique of car wives, and being the outsider, I flipped on the adaptability switch. I was the DD, so I had to do SOMETHING to occupy my time. I cracked jokes, and I was polite. But then, one woman said, “Didn’t I see you in the paper? You published a book, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” And I proceeded to answer questions. “What’s your book about?” “Why did you write a book?” “Did you go to college?” “Do you need a degree to publish books?”
I answered them all happily, but then it came…the question I could not answer politely. “Don’t you just love 50 Shades of Grey?”
“I’m a snob when it comes to books,” I said. “I’ve read excerpts, and in my opinion, a fifth grader could produce a more interesting narrative. By the way, did you know 50 Shades began as Twilight fan fiction? Ridiculous.”
And one by one, these women turned on me. I LOVE romance novels. Blah, blah, blah, Harlequin; blah, blah, Meredith So-and-So. (Gag me with a spoon.) I never pay more than 1.99 for an Amazon book. Nora Roberts, blah, blah. Have you read Something-something Cave Bears??? It’s the best romance series I’ve ever read. (Kill me now.) Who is Sylvia Plath? She was insane, wasn’t she? Science-fiction? Who even wants to try to understand that crap? Anything over two hundred pages is like–ugh! I have a short attention span, you know–because I’m raising kids. Who has that kind of time? I like brainless romance. Romance is life. There’s no romance in your book? (Fuck. You.) Like, what’s it even about? Maybe I’ll look it up. (Don’t do me any favors.) It’s really cool though, you wrote a book. My kids are getting older, and I have more free time. I should write a book. Since you don’t need a degree. (Fucking try it, bitch.)
It drives me crazy that people think writing is easy peasy. No. I work every day. Writers work, every fucking day. We bleed our truths, difficult as they are to spill. My mother thinks my job is easy. She thinks I just sit down at my computer, and like magic, words erupt from my fingertips. Even dime-a-dozen romance writers have to work.
So anyway, I didn’t feel friendship vibes with these women. I tried to be polite, until I couldn’t be anything but honest. Because even though I’m adaptable, honesty is trump. For me, at least. But my real problem with these people wasn’t about literature, or writing. It was about drunk driving. They were fucking wasted, as were their husbands; and all night I thought, you motherfuckers are going to pack up your kids and drive home. I’m not at all good with driving drunk, especially with kids in the vehicle. That’s why when they asked if I wanted to play a drinking card game with them, I reminded them of the importance of a DD. Which further put them off me. And I don’t give a fuck. It’s not I walk around handing out friendship applications, ffs.
What really upsets me is that I try hard every day not to judge others. It doesn’t give me a high to be critical. In fact, it makes me sad. That is saying A LOT, given that judging others comes as easily to me as breathing. I know it’s not right; but I AM critical of others for various reasons, especially when it comes to parenting–driving drunk with children. AND when it comes to people who think I don’t do anything really productive–playing on the computer. Writing novels isn’t easy.
I realize this post is all over the place.
What I’m trying to say is that I even though I can fit in anywhere, it is with great effort. And often, the effort isn’t worth being dishonest. It isn’t worth keeping my mouth shut. I used to be able to fake it without thinking. Maybe that’s why my ex-husband said I was insincere–because I faked my way through situations so cleanly. Now, I’m in touch with myself in a way I’ve never been before, and I quite honestly, I don’t care about appearances. I’m me. Take it or leave it. I’m no longer married to man who cares about how other view me. I’m married to a man who loves me for who I am, and whose family thinks I’m pretty cool, too. With Jim, and his family, I don’t have to pretend to be the perfect Catholic. I don’t have to be subservient–in fact, in Jim’s family, that is frowned upon!
Wow. Now this blog has gone way off point. I’m rambling. But whatever. It’s MY blog. I can do whatever the fuck I want.
And the title: Always the Outsider…with Jim, I’m never an outsider.
I wish everyone in the world could have a partner in life that is as amazing as Jim. I only wish I had him, or someone like him in my life when I was growing up.
Jim makes my imperfections feel forgivable. Even when I’m busting on rich housewives who like shitty romance, and drink like fish.