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Friday, November 15, 2013

I think I just met an alien

I'm a woman. I've always been a woman. I have no way of knowing what my life would be like if I weren't a woman. All I can do is witness themes and patterns that emerge from my day-to-day existence.

And here is one of them:

SO many men suck. Like, SO many. And maybe -- just maybe -- they're especially awful to women like me -- meaning, badasses who speak and ambulate and go about their lives freely.

When I say "men," I don't mean all men. In fact, I'm thinking of a certain type of grown-up-baby-boy: the people who have manipulated their way to "power" and "success" -- or, at least, the trappings of such titles (expensive cars, trophy girlfriends, etc.) -- but are really just trying to fill the vast void that exists inside of them.

I have money and power -- but I still hate myself!

(You know the type.)

Allow me to tell you about an experience I just had while working on my laptop at Starbucks.

Two men sat at a table across from me and proceeded to yell about how amazing they were at everything on earth. Namely, their achievements in the field of BUSINESS! Business, business, business.

Men and business!

One wore trousers with small anchors on them and had a shirt collar that was way too large for his neck. It reminded me of an alien you might see in Men in Black that's been strapped into a badly proportioned disguise. The other guy had on one of those wide, colorful ties from the 90s.

The business-speak was out of control:

"I can rake in $10,000 a month if the client signs on!"

"It's not my problem -- it's their problem!"

"You've seen my numbers. You've seen my numbers! I'm killing it out there!"

Even through my headphones, I could hear them SCREAMING about themselves, and my stomach started to churn. Had they no regard for others? Weren't they aware that they sounded ridiculous? Didn't they care that others had work to do?

Frustrated, I took out my headphones, fully prepared to go over and say something about the volume of their voices. But, as I did, I noticed that they'd switched topics, and were now talking about their respective fitness regimens.

"I need to get back into the gym," said Wide Colorful Tie. "Ever since my shoulder injury, it's been so hard to lift."

Bingo.

My fiancé just opened a gym, only ten minutes away! No need to confront these ridiculous individuals -- instead, I can simply walk over and make nice, and maybe connect with them over this shared point of interest.

Business cards in hand (I always have some in my purse) I put on my most winning smile. I was even wearing my new Zooey Deschanel glasses, so of course I was extra endearing.

"Excuse me. I couldn't help but overhear -- and pardon my eavesdropping -- that you were looking to get back into working out? My fiancé just opened a gym and I think it could be right up your alley!" I placed the business cards on the table in front of them, and turned to Wide Colorful Tie. "He specializes in individual coaching," I said, "which could be especially helpful after your shoulder injury."

Anchor Pants Alien Head sneered.

Uh-oh.

"What is this?" he sputtered, not looking at me.

"It's a business card," I said. "For a gym." (My asshole-antennae were prickling. Abort! Abort!) "Sorry for the intrusion."

I began to walk away.

"Oh, I've heard of this," said Wide Colorful Tie, which was certainly a lie, since the gym just opened last month, but okay: Business Men need to be in the know.

"Great!" I said. So I talked a bit more about it: where it was located, the types of membership, that sort of thing.

"What's so great about it?" interjected Anchor Pants Alien Head. He looked at his friend. "She comes over here and tells us it's great."

That's when the fire began to rage.

She.

It's a classic way to dismiss somebody: talk about me in the third person, and I'm not even there. Was sexism a factor? Again, I've only ever been a woman, so I can't tell -- and maybe gender has nothing to do with it. But maybe it does, though. I can't help but wonder whether this would have gone differently if it were my male fiancé, standing there talking to them instead of me, an articulate woman in glasses.

I turned and took a long look at Anchor Pants Alien Head. His face was sunken, his eyes were ringed with dark circles, and his gaze remained transfixed on the Starbucks table -- because making eye contact would relinquish too much power (or maybe this is just how aliens need to interact, lest I catch a peek at his reptilian slit pupils).

"Well..." I delivered the quick, two-sentence pitch: the gym has expert training, safe strength-based programming in a small studio setting.

"I already have a gym membership," Anchor Pants Alien Head said, waving the business card out to one side like it had been smeared with smallpox. "And I bought my girlfriend a year membership to La Maison, 50 bucks a month."

Girlfriend. I was dangerously close to up-chucking. Instead, I leaned in -- Zooey Deschanel glasses catching the recessed lighting -- and plucked the card back from his hand.

"Well then! You won't be needing that, sir!" I'd never grinned so wide. "Clearly, you're in phenomenal shape."

"She took the card away from me!" Anchor Pants Alien Head said. "She took it!"

"Because I don't want you to have it," I replied.

His eyes tilted up, until we made contact. I steeled myself and kept smiling.

WWWSDIMIB: What Would Will Smith Do In Men In Black?

As I looked at him, I realized that this was no reptile alien. I was staring into a cold, empty room.

"Bye! Have a great day!"

I returned to my seat. And as I put my headphones back in my ears, I thought: did I just learn a lesson?

Maybe.

The lesson could be: don't put yourself out there, because people will just be jerks! It doesn't ever make sense to go out on a limb! People will only disappoint you!

But instead, I choose to interpret it as the following --

People who live life in such a closed off way are sad. Ladies reading this -- or, anyone, for that matter -- please don't ever let anybody intimidate you. The Anchor Pants Alien Head types are everywhere. But you know that fire you feel inside when something like this happens? Don't let it fizzle! Let it fuel you to be your assertive, wonderful, unapologetic self.

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Okay, fine. Maybe I'd punch him. Lightly.

But strong enough to show I mean business.

5 comments:

  1. The funny thing about these people (or poople as I like to call them), will never be TRULY happy with their lives. They will always carry themselves as if they are better than everyone.

    Most people who are truly successful don't have to SAY they are successful. I've always thought that being humble and nice make those who are successful more human.

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    1. Haha! "Poople." So good. Thanks for the comment, Eric. I couldn't agree with you more!

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  2. The game is is to avoid giving this personality type control in your day job. (to self) "I can't just take the card back, I need to make the mortgage payment ...." I've had some success keeping control in my career (yeah, software - my road taken instead of theatre) but just when I think I've got it sorted, >smack< again. Usually by someone who thinks they can bend the laws of physics that constrain how fast something can be built, or who believes they don't need to think carefully about what they want (government web site, anyone?)

    Get up again. Tell the truth. (yea for you!) Move on if you have to. Don't be surprised by this kind of .... dude... and be prepared for it (sigh).

    Yes, gender does matter in the game these boys play. Unfortunately.

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  3. Can I just say I'm loving these comments -- especially as they're coming from sensitive, evolved men? Thank you for the support!!

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