The Butcher and I went to Walmart yesterday. Yes, Walmart. Land that I loathe, stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from below.
My feelings about Walmart remain unchanged, but eventually they just beat you down. You walk through the aisles and everything is, basically, a dollar cheaper than it is at the grocery store. And they have all that non-grocery crap. And I know it’s because they’re evil and they lock their employees in at night with no pay and strong-arm companies into producing cheap crap with their name on it but not their quality. I know. I know. I know.
But a dollar an item.
And man, I walked through the aisles and saw what they were getting for cereal and cookies and milk and I was just enraged and then resigned. We shop at Walmart. The ant-Christ has sucked us in.
Anyway, on the way there we were talking about luck and how talent has a lot to do with stuff, but being able to be in the right place at the right time has more. The Butcher, for instance, went to a show with the best guitarist he and I have ever heard in person. That guitarist was not playing in the show. He was sitting at the table with the Butcher. That guitarist works at Electronic Express to support his family and doesn’t have time to try to be recognized as a great guitarist.
And our talk turned to the best drummer we know, who is sitting in a tiny town in Illinois, with lovely wife and two children.
Which got us thinking about high school and I was recounting the lovely calculus teacher I had who made the three girls in the class sit in the front because “girls have a harder time at math than boys.” And the Butcher was all “But you were already good enough to get into calculus.”
Anyway, we were talking about some friends of ours who lived together for ages and then finally got married and, after the wedding, their relationship seems to have, from the outside, taken a turn for the strangely worse. The fight all the time. But as we talked about it, I realized that all their fights have a recurring theme: she has taken it upon herself to fix him–she encouraged him to get a different job, she wants him to hang out with different people, she wants him to take up different hobbies, etc., etc., etc. And some of the stuff, like encouraging him to get a new job, didn’t seem too weird when it happened, because who doesn’t appreciate a supportive someone who says “You can do better and deserve better?”
But others of it really seems like, “But you knew he had and loved these friends and had these passtimes and loved them, because that’s exactly who he hung out with and what they did together when you were living with him.” It’s like, now that they’ve gotten married, she’s changed the rules.
And, granted, we’re only hearing this from his side, but I’ve seen a lot of young women who do this–devote all this energy into changing their husbands into the kind of man they should have just married in the first place.
It’s a weird message women are getting–strive to get married; your wedding is your dream day and any old shmoe will do for the part of the groom, and don’t worry, once you get him, you can change him into the man of your dreams.
Not only is this grossly unfair to the person you marry, but this seems to me to be another instance of the bizarre busywork society gives women to keep us from being productive, active agents in our own lives, and in society.
The biggest busywork we’re given is dieting. Memorize the numbers, make repeated visits to the scale, worry about whether you’ve been good or bad, think of your health, think of your health. Be hungry and cranky and less effective. Succeed, but it all comes back. So, do it again. Over and over, focus on that.
I have a friend who was on Jenny Craig who said it was like having a second part-time job. And I’m starting to see it’s not “like.” It is. It’s a way to eat up hours of your day on a task you’re designed to fail at, so that you keep having to do it, over and over, so that those hours aren’t taken up with more interesting pursuits.
And I’m beginning to see this whole “Fix your man” task in the same light. Like dieting, there’s always some success story held out there for us all to aspire to. Some heterosexual woman somewhere has succeeded in fixing her man and you can, too. In reality, though, you cannot change anyone but your own self, so you are destined to fail at this, thus necessitating that you keep trying, harder.
On another task you cannot, by design, complete successfully.