The Womens Crusade
“The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.”
New York Times
If you get a chance, please read this amazing article in the NY Times.
I read it aloud to my children and husband, Paul. At the end of my oration, I gave Paul a look of anticipation, (maybe I looked like I had just eaten a really great appetizer and I was thrilled over the next course.)
“What?” Paul asked me.
“This is just exciting for the world and…my book.” I beamed knowing I should have stopped with the world. But I was thrilled.
“What???? How could this have anything to do with your book????” Really, he looked at me with that many question marks and one of his head tilting looks that accused me of being the most self absorbed person in the history of self absorbed people.
“This story is about girls in a third world country, not the US, not your book.”
I was irritated. It made perfect sense to me. Girl power was universal. Maybe because he grew up a boy in the US he didn’t understand what it felt like to be a girl in a world that underestimated girls and our abilities…especially if you were raised by a single mother in poverty. There weren’t any cute vampires in my neighborhood offering to bite my neck and rescue me. I had to deal with it on my own. That was my experience as a young girl in this country.
But my book about two young girls who have power and are not broken by their childhoods has been inspiring as that grown up little girl and for my daughters and son.
As I’ve been writing my book for what feels like an eternity, the thing that has helped keep going is the idea that I’d be helping all those other girls out there (who instead of being willing to give up their neck and soul to a dreamy vampire) will read my characters and use their plucky courage and smarts to better their situation, like I did when I was a little kid reading about Pippi Longstocking and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Stories about kids overcoming odds and different lifestyles.
And that’s why the story in the NY Times was inspiring. That in real life, women and girls are being recognized as powerful human beings, not otherworldly creatures or just worthless.
So, I guess if it’s a stretch…and I’m an ego maniac…well,why not.
5 dollar magazine…two successful birthdays!
I can’t say where I was the other day. I’m not trying to be cute or funny. I’m writing in code to protect the innocent. In this case, it’s a local business that serves the best damn goods in Renton and the most wonderful, customer service around. Which is why I am a frequent shopper. Recently though, I discovered the only “down” side to shopping locally…or maybe, I’m just a wuss.
Let me set the stage.
I found myself at this small business on a busy Saturday getting “something” to bring for dinner at a couple friends house. This place was hopping with customers stocking up for a holiday weekend, I’m flanked nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with customers, anxious to be called on next. The place was so jammed packed and tense it felt like an after-Thanksgiving sale or Christmas Eve.
Behind the counter, all of the usual customer service all-stars were present: The cute college kid who always calls me Miss, the singing jokester, the attentive owner who remembers my face and welcomes me back with a wide smile, but my favorite of all is the old codger with the hearing aid. The old-codger always asks me how I’m doing with the same carpenters pencil stuck behind his ear as if he’s got all the time in the world for me. For the first time, on this day, I dread the rapport I have with him, sensing the impatient customers beside me. I fear for the old-codger because he is as fast as a rotary phone calling long distance. I return his question with a smile as I give him my order.
As usual he begins giving me tips about my purchases, like a beloved grandfather doling out good-natured advice. That’s when I notice the dime-sized black fly on the goods we’re all in line trying to order. Of course, the case has been opened and closed so many times today, ample opportunity for an opportunisitic fly to gorge on the bounty.
“Are you going to be eating this right away? Because I’ve got some cooking tips for you.” The old codger explains sweetly.
I smile at him and nod but I can’t take my eyes off the fly sitting on one of the items I had ordered. Wondering what my moral obligation to these people, don’t flies spread disease? If I were at some big ass, mass produced store PippiMamma would have no problem grabbing the intercom system and shouting out, “FLY ON AISLE FIVE!”
But I couldn’t do that!
I was at a wonderful place where my adopted grandfather worked part-time for fun to be with his son and grandson…to pass on the family know how…or at least that’s what I’d envisioned.
How could I embarrass my grandfather in front of all his customers…that would be the equivalent of telling him his fly was down…literally. I didn’t want to take away business from this place. What if some of these customers weren’t the understanding type like me. What if these were the kind of customers that would call the health department or worse embarrass the old codger all because of me. What if this local business began losing business because I couldn’t just suck it up and what? Eat the fly? Sheesh, it was getting thick in my head. I closed my eyes and began to rub my temple. Which was a mistake.
When I opened up my eyes the old- codger gave me one of his good-natured winks.
“You have no idea.” I said, realizing I had taken my eye off the fly. When I looked back, it was gone and the old-codger was putting the spoon back in the case, right next to where the fly had just been. Did I just get the fly?
“Here you be!” The old-codger said handing me my purchases.
I opened my mouth. Unsure of where to go next. There was no way to tell him about the fly in front of all these people.
“Thanks.” I said.
That night at my friends house I was too embarrassed to tell my husband, best friend and her husband what had happened at the store. We began making dinner. I looked around at the others, making sure they were busy talking as I opened the four packages alone. I was happy to discover they were all clean, or “fly free.” When I got to the fourth and final package, I opened it and there in the exact spot where I’d last seen it, was the black fly. I went to throw the package in the garbage–disgusted with the fly and myself–why hadn’t I just said something???
Weren’t doting grandpa’s supposed to be understanding? I’d never had one, so I didn’t know.
The fly looked up at me with its green eyes. To my surprise it hadn’t eaten itself to death like I had thought. It was very much alive as it dive bombed into my face and out the open door.
My reaction stopped the conversation.
“Oh, just a fly on my face.” I said.
Later, retelling the story over dinner, my friend assured me she would have done exactly the same thing.
However, the husbands said we were crazy. “Who knowingly buys food with a fly in it?”