Thursday, January 3, 2008

Pop-you-hoo-ler! Lar! La la, la la...

So, I've been listening to the Wicked soundtrack in the car. A lot. I need to learn my part (Elphaba) before my mom or my sister and I have to drive in the car together again, or I'll lose cool points. So I've played it a squajillion times in the last few days (I'm getting pretty good - it's right in my range).

As we were getting out of the car tonight, on the way home from the grocery store, Mary Grace said, "Mommy, you know about popular!"

Which is funny (aside from the fact that it's funny when she's precocious), because I really don't. I'm not a girl's girl, and I haven't been since like fourth grade when the cool girls, inexplicably and irrevocably, decided that I was no longer one of them. By the time we got to middle school I was persona non grata*. When I heard that Tammy Faye Baker had died this year, my first reaction was (still!!) to blush, furiously, because that's what they used to call me. I used to cry pretty much on cue. Not a charming trait in the wild jungle of middle school girls' locker rooms, lemme tell ya.

Even now, my closest female friends tend to be on the tomboyish side (and I mean that in the good sense, girls, so don't get your boxers in a twist). Amanda is getting her Ph.D. in underwater archeology and is in the habit of staring down tarantulas, snakes, and other assorted creepy crawlies without breaking a sweat. Barb is in the Air Force (she was active for a while, and now she's in the Air National Guard), and while more and more women are in the military, it's still not the sort of thing you'd expect from a "girly girl." I can't see Cher from "Clueless" joining up. After all, there are no manicures in boot camp. Jenny is a cop. Shannyn and Karen are harder to define. I'm not sure why I have the sense that they're tomboyish, except maybe that they're tough and smart and strong, and those qualities aren't always associated with girly girls. Certainly they're not traits that I associate with girly girls...

As a rule, I try to avoid women in groups. My experience of them has tended to be more like Mean Girls than Steel Magnolias. (If you haven't seen Mean Girls, do, because it's hysterical). I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out why I don't do well in groups of women, and I've narrowed it down to a few things:

1) I don't defer well. I'm opinionated (those of you who know me are sarcastically saying, "Noooooo..." right now). I'm right often enough that I have a hard time letting go of my opinions, no matter who is disagreeing with me. It's bad form, in a group of women, to not defer to the alpha female. Well, as far as I'm concerned, the alpha female can kiss my butt, most of the time. This tends to make me unpopular in groups of women, obviously, because the rest of the group will follow the alpha.

2) I don't like group projects. Women tend to do things by committee, which, in my humble opinion, takes longer and is generally twice as difficult as just doing it would be. It only takes one person to make lemonade - we don't need to have a discussion about how everyone feels about various lemonade making techniques, just make the damned lemonade, already!

3) I tend to side with the underdog. So, if there's someone else like me in a group of women, who is being ganged up on, I'll side with her and be ostracized by association.

And the fact is, in general, men are a lot easier to be around than women. With men, what you see is what you get. Being pretty lousy at subtleties (which could be reason #4, I'm about as subtle as an elephant), that quality makes it a lot easier for me to interact with men. Given the choice, I would've much rather joined the Boy Scouts. They did all the cool stuff, anyway.

So, really, it comes as no surprise that they're closing ranks around that other blogger and baring their perfect nails at me on the blog (and, since I started working on this post, in my own comments on the Mama Karma post...) I mentioned the other day. Same thing happened with the duck thing a few months ago. I've got 20 years of toughening built up on this hide. A few snarky comments aren't going to ruin my day.

However, since most of you know me in real life, I want to know (and feel free to post anonymously, you chickens), is my assessment of myself correct, or is there something else that I'm doing that causes me to constantly bump heads with other women (particularly women in groups)?

And, to bring it all back on topic, how do you think my apparent inability to play nicely with women in groups is going to play out over the course of my girls' childhood, considering that it won't be long before I'm dragged kicking and screaming to a variety of venues (school, scouts, ballet, soccer, etc.) where I'm going to have to play nice with the other mommies? Should I repress my natural tendencies and defer, withhold opinions, do everything by committee, and let the cheese stand alone in order to make the path easier for my kids? After all, they aren't going to be invited to many activities if their mom is constantly getting into heated political debates with the other moms. Do I need to suppress myself so that I don't impede their social development, or would it be better for them to learn that there's more to life than being popular? For me, I choose to be Wicked. For one thing, the wicked one gets to sing all the best songs...

* if you're cheesy, are you a persona non au gratin**?

** That was for you, Dad.


Gertie said...

Don't be too hard on yourself or make sweeping assumptions because of some silly blog. I mean it's just a blog. You spurred on some "internet" chatter and that was good.

Anonymous said...

Be yourself! If you try to please everyone you will end up pleasing no one! You might try 1)turning down the volume or your rebuttals and 2)learning the phrase "I guess we will agree to disagree". MG will learn more with these 2 suggestions than trying to become someone you are not.
Thanks for the pun...I liked it and will use it as soon as I can.
Love you lots,

Brandon Stenger said...

Here's my advice for when you have to be around other parents: take your iPod. When I have those sweet, sweet little white earbuds in none of the obnoxious helicopter moms or sports dads ever talks to me. Of course, I'm also 5-15 years younger than most of the other parents there, at least with kids Lucy's age so that helps as well. The point is. anti-sociality can serve you well.

Megan said...

Like Dad said, I would turn down the volume on the soccer field and try not to get into heated discussions with people that you have just met, but just be yourself. The way that you argue is backed by solid facts and you do it in a way that doesn't make the other person feel threatened. You may end up making some new friends. You never know. I know the times that I have been completely honest with my friends are the ones that they remember. People appreciate you because you aren't going to sugarcoat something just to be accepted.

Jen said...

I think your post is right on and I totally agree. Don't fall into the chicken coop, per se, just to play with the chickens.
BTW, men can be just as bad, if not worse than women. Just work with 5 of 'em in a 10x10 cubicle for 3 years... the bad thing is they hide it instead of wearing it right on their sleeves like women do...

bombaygirl said...

Hey...found you through "that" post. I am in the same boat as you. I have a hard time fitting in with groups of women, especially playgroups. Its hard, coz I want my kids to have playmates, but then I can't stand the mothers! Let me know when you find the perfect balance.

Marcia said...

I've also come via that post LOL

I love your dad's response. I'm very similar to you but after making my point, i won't waste anymore energy on the argument :)