This Just In: Girls Only Write About Shopping

26 Dec

“What are you reading?”

It was 2am on a Friday night. Christmas, it so happens, and I had managed to get out of work incredibly early. Apparently a dance party wasn’t on many people’s agendas for the evening. Especially considering we were without DJ.

“Nothing. Just some brain popcorn.”

That’s a phrase I picked up from an ex-boyfriend of mine and it perfectly defines what I was reading. It’s a totally unchallenging mental vacation. Nothing to write home about. Nothing to organize a book club around. Something perfect for a late night when you’re too wired to sleep but too tired to think critically.

“Brain popcorn, huh? Well who’s it by?”

I am always sort of confused about what it is about a girl at a bar immersed in a book that screams please talk to me but whatever. I will just file that under Mysteries of the Universe.

“It’s really nothing. A Stephanie Plum novel.”

This was not my attempt to be coy or to disparage my reading choice. This was me trying to respectfully hint that I did not come to this bar to talk to anyone other than the person working behind it who is a friend of mine. He was busy so I was using my book <first> as a way to occupy myself until he could grab a few minutes to catch up and <second> as a way to communicate that I was not looking to make friends. Clearly the second part of that was not coming across.

“Oh, well, can I read a paragraph of it? Just whatever page you’re on. Just let me read one paragraph so I can get an idea of what it’s like.”

I practiced some deep breathing exercises and pushed my book towards him, avoiding looking over at him as I did it. I am very practiced at coming across politely disinterested and moderately dismissive. It’s a professional necessity. He picked the book up and went about reading. About a minute later he handed the book back with a chuckle.

“Funny. I just read a paragraph of a book written by a woman and it’s all about shopping. So classic!”

More deep breathing exercises. Someone else’s shift on Christmas is not the time for a feminist take down.

“Well, actually, Stephanie Plum is the character in the book and right now she is taking a man grocery shopping because his apartment got firebombed and he doesn’t have a car. And that is an absurd thing for you to have said. Let me guess…you’re single?”

He turned towards me and cocked his head to the side like a confused puppy. I wasn’t sure whether it was in response to the part about the apartment being firebombed or my incredible ability to accurately guess the state of his love life after only having sat next to him at a bar for 10 minutes. He turned back to his friend, I turned back to Stephanie. A few short moments of blessed reading time followed.

“What’s your favorite quote from literature?”

I sighed. I knew this line. Clearly this dude had some quote memorized that he figured would impress upon me his intelligence and vast knowledge of literature, both classic and obscure. I thought about him, sitting alone in his bedroom with flashcards, memorizing quote after quote to foist upon unsuspecting victims at cocktail parties, job interviews and bars on Christmas at 2am. I should have looked down at my book and recited the following lines:

The door flew open and Carol stood in the doorway, holding a bag of Cheez Doodles. Her hair was smudged with orange doodle dust and stood out from her scalp like an explosion had gone off inside her head. Her mascara was smudged, her lipstick eaten off, replaced with orange doodle stain. She was dressed in a nightgown, sneakers, and a warm-up jacket. Doodle crumbs stuck to the jacket and sparkled in the morning sunlight.

That probably would have handled the problem. Instead I politely declined to answer his question at which point he rattled off a few lines from something or other. To be honest with you I wasn’t paying any attention. I was mostly focusing on keeping my left eyebrow in place and my eyes from turning steely.

“That’s from Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Have you heard of it? You probably haven’t read it. It’s really long.”

At this point I lost control of my eyebrow and shifted focus to holding my temper. I decided the best course of action was to just say nothing at all. Maybe he would get the hint and stop talking. No such luck.

“I took this English class in college with this professor who was a feminist” — he spat this last word — “and she made us read all this stuff. And she talked about how women never got their due and were sometimes overlooked or completely forgotten just for being female. Well, I raised my hand and explained to her how Herman Melville wasn’t appreciated in his time, either. She couldn’t argue with fact. He didn’t make any money off of his book or get any notice or anything. I mean, come on.”

I sat there imagining this dude as a student in the back of class, carefully and demeaningly explaining to his university professor all about this unknown and underappreciated author Herman Melville. And then I thought about how, because every now and again white men aren’t celebrated for their contributions to society during their lifetime, clearly that means that any claim that other groups are systematically omitted from history is absurd and can be debunked. Nothing like one example to disprove racism and sexism, you know?

“Wow. That must have really changed everything for her.”

Sarcasm. It’s totally my thing. I love it.

“Pretty much, yea.”

Except for when people completely miss it. I shook my head in disbelief. Clearly a lost cause. I went back to reading my lady book that was clearly  all about shopping, entertaining my simple lady brain with pretty, sparkly images of credit cards and shoes. Whales? What are those? He went back to making thinly veiled sexist commentary about the world in general, quoting outdated, offensive stand-up skits from the late 80s. Sometimes I just don’t have it in me. Sometimes I just want to be a girl at a bar, reading a book, without feeling the need to educate every neanderthal I come in contact with about the patriarchy. The stupidity is just too much sometimes. It’s exhausting.

 

7 Responses to “This Just In: Girls Only Write About Shopping”

  1. CJ René December 26, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m going to put the following line in my book for your future use (if you want): “The quote was perfect for this moment. The moment the newest douchebag decided that he had something interesting to say and clearly had to say to me – the woman least interested in his tiny ego in the entire world. Hopefully he’d get the hint, but in any case, fuck that guy.”

    • FranklyRebekah December 26, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

      I am writing it on a flashcard right this very moment.

      • CJ René December 26, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

        You can follow it up with “it’s meta. You probably don’t know what that means.”

      • FranklyRebekah December 26, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

        I’m dying.

  2. Josh January 17, 2016 at 4:29 am #

    At least he didn’t ask your sign because you know chicks dig that.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dear Francis | franklyrebekah - December 5, 2016

    […] how could I forget that Christmas night that I was reading in a bar and some dude informed me that women only really write about shopping? That was a great night. Oh and the one time I went bra shopping and ended up realizing how ashamed […]

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