this post is about the chimera of chivalry. and it's going to be all over the place...
i went to the Walmarts tonight because i was long overdue to buy a lawnmower. i hated doing it but i couldn't find a decent lawn service and i was over borrowing lawn mowers and Sears didn't have the one i wanted and Home Depot was confusing ... etc etc. (enthralling, right.) anydamnway, i paid for a lawnmower online and went to pick it up. they had it ready; a ginormous box balancing on a tiny shopping cart: "here you go."
i guess i had been staring for some time at the teetering box because the sales rep finally interrupted my musing of possible catastrophic events that would ensue getting the box to my car, let alone home. you know, the box falling off the cart, parts shattering everywhere, a blade taking my right leg off, regretting not buying the extra Protection Plan.
"does that look like the right one?" Chotchie asked.
"yeah. heh. i mean, now if i can just get it home and figure out how to put it together," i answered. really? these things don't come assembled?
"ah, i bet it's not that hard." thanks for the encouragement, Chotchie.
i managed to get the damn thing to my car, in my car, and i managed to get the beast home. i even managed to put it together. the technical writing in the owner's manual was ridiculous but i carefully put the correct oil in, filled it with gas, i choked and throttled, and i mowed the lawn. but i did some thinking as i mowed and i got really annoyed.
what in THE hell is wrong with people? okay, i was wearing a wife beater and cut off jean shorts. and yes i did have dirt all over myself from gardening. i didn't look my best; i'm actually a little embarrassed by my hair situation even for Walmarts, but what in the fuck? i am 110 lbs. and i am a lady. and even if i was 310 lbs. or a lady with a mustache, at least give me the "respect your elder" card.
the way i was taught, this is how it should have gone down:
"here you are. let me get someone to help you out to your car with this. in fact, if you'll pull your car around back, we can load it right away" Chotchie would say.
"oh, why thank you! i was wondering how i was going to roll it out of the store. i sure hope i can figure out how to put it together," i would reply.
Chotchie would look appalled and exclaim, "why, a sweet little lady like you shouldn't put a lawnmower together, let alone lift it alone! you make your husband do it. or, i'd be happy to assemble it for you right here if you'd like?"
i realize it's not the Ritz Carlton but come on.
this issue whole issue of how men view women has been surfacing a lot lately. and it's not necessarily about chivalry, it's about common courtesy, respect, innate goodness. here are two more examples.
boardroom at my office for company-wide meeting: 25 chairs. 18 filled by men (most under 27) and 7 by women. and at least 10 women standing up or sitting on THE FLOOR. (this had happened before at a pizza party where i sat on the floor in a skirt and was a little taken aback.) this time, i sent my boss a text: "18 guys in chairs out of 25. disgusting." of course he didn't respond and i'm sure he hates me now for being such a "feminist." but then again, he was one of the men sitting down.
second example: talking to some guys about the issue. can't remember how it came up. something about opening doors for women. and i open doors for men. i don't really feel strongly about it. i also would offer my seat on a bus, in a crowded room, in the park for someone older than me, male or female. anyway, one of the guys said, "listen, you can't have it both ways. you can't have your independence and all these rights AND be treated like that. you have to pick one." i asked him what he meant by independence and all "these rights". he said "things like, being paid the same as men, holding top positions in companies, having someone take care of you..." i burst out laughing. i found this interesting because last time i checked women DON'T and NEVER HAVE been paid as much as men for the same positions; we don't hold nearly as many executive roles; we aren't taken seriously nor are we respected; and i pay all my bills, support both my daughters alone, do all the yard work, change the oil in my car, cook, clean, AND put together a freaking lawn mower. i don't bitch about not having a door opened or a guy expecting me to pay for a dinner he invited me to, and i STILL don't get a motherloving seat in the boardroom. (is it contradictory to say that i didn't really want one nor would have i accepted one, i just wanted it to be offered? to other ladies even?)
i thought about my grandpa. he taught me about hard work. he taught me how to farm, get up early, take care of myself, and work my ass off. but he also taught me how a lady should be treated. he treated my grandma like a queen. she was a hard worker, but every dinner she cooked, every contribution she offered the house, every bed she washed and made, was appreciated. and she never paid for a meal, opened her door, or was insulted without my grandpa knocking someone out.
i don't know the answer. i don't know if i just live in the wrong place ... maybe the wrong era? and i know there are good guys out there. but it seems like we are getting farther and farther away from the beauty of what makes men good and women gentle. it makes me sad. while i put my lawnmower together, i just knew my grandpa was whispering, you're tough, you deserve better but you are happy, be lucky you can do it alone. i love you.