Tuesday, February 21, 2006

girl power

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not exactly a girly girl. But I'm also not one to necessarily dislike girly girls; I definitely have friends who rock their girliness. It's just not my thing.

The one girly thing that I can't get on board with is showers. No, hello, I bathe. I'm the product queen, remember? That actually flies in the face of my anti-girliness, but that's beside the point. I'm talking about wedding and baby showers.

It's a touchy subject, because almost every woman has one or both at some point. And it's further touchy because I'm single, so not liking these events gives the impression of bitterness. It's a fair assumption, but you'll have to take me on my word that that's not it.

Once I went to a baby shower for a friend who was extremely sensitive about how big she was getting. However unwarranted her concerns (you're not fat; you're growing a person!), she was upset about it. I walked into her shower and was handed a piece of ribbon by her mother; if mine was closest to matching the mom-to-be's actual circumference, I'd win a prize. What, making her cry?

At the last wedding shower that I went to, everyone wrote down marital advice for the bride on little pieces of paper that she read as she unwrapped presents. Grown women gave advice like, "Remember, if you want him to do X, tell him Y!" and giggled knowingly like co-conspirators in man-taming. God knows that I believe in seeing the humor in anything you can, but comments like that makes me feel alienated from my own gender. I don't know who these people are involved with, but I've never been in a relationship with anyone with whom I had to play games in order to communicate, and I never want to be.

So, my new thing is that I only go to showers for friends. And by friend I don't mean someone I work with that I've never seen beyond the parking lot, or an acquaintance that I haven't talked to in four years. If I'm invited to a non-friend shower, I'll send my regrets and a great gift. Can't really complain about that, right? And I certainly don't share my anti-shower sentiments with them; I save that for you.

And now to contradict everything that I just said about not being girly, here's an incredibly girly story. Feel free to stop reading now if it'll girl you out too much; trust me, it's my story and it tends to over-girlify me. (It may also be enough personal information to appease the always-entertaining Jaek, who thinks I'm dead inside.)

I know Connecticut from college, and my relationship with her has changed since she met her fiancee. That's usually what happens, to an extent, but she went from being a woman who was scared of never meeting someone to being a woman who was sort of self-righteous and condescending once she did. Recently we went a couple months without talking and she sent a long email telling me she feels that I'm not interested in our friendship. It's hard to justify that argument when neither of us were really making an effort, but, okay, it must have been bothering her if she decided to bring it up. So I apologized and we talked about it and then I asked if she wanted to make plans to get together (even though, despite our conversation, I just didn't really want to). And I added, "You can bring Fiancee if you want; you know I really like him," which I do. She replied, "Well, you can't have him." I know she was trying to be funny, but still... ugh.

This is just one example of how she and I communicate lately. I usually judge a friendship by how I feel after spending time with the person: Do I more often leave their company saying, "Gee, I love so-and-so," or, "Gee, why didn't I stay home and watch Ashley Parker Angel neglect his newborn son on There and Back?" If I start thinking the latter more often, there's a problem (a huge problem, actually, because that also happens to be a terrible show). And that's how I feel with Connecticut. Friend-dumping is a delicate thing and I don't take it lightly. I adore my friends and I'm truly blessed to have some really good ones, and if I were to find that I'd been a bad, negligent friend to any of them it would devastate me. But I'm also not willing to tug around dead weight, that is, put time and effort into a friendship with someone who hasn't done anything but annoy, insult, and guilt trip me in a long time.

Long story short, I RSVPed no to her shower, and may do the same to her wedding. And I know that, on some level, there'll be hell to pay; we have mutuals who will say mean, uninformed things about my decision. But I'm not sure I care. Well, obviously I still do care because I think about it and I'm writing about it; any of my friends know how much this has gotten under my skin. I'm just not sure that I should care.

As I get older (ahem, closer to 30), I just find that I'm less and less capable of bullshit. It's not that I'm trying to send a message by not going; it's literally that I don't want to waste my time being around people who don't make me happy anymore. I don't settle when it comes to relationships and every so often I'm reminded that I shouldn't settle when it comes to friendships, either. Of course, these words are easy to type and a little harder to live.

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