Not Your Mama’s Fiction

We live in a world of confusing messages about what it means to be a woman. Are we supposed to be diamonds, daisies, or snowflakes? Tinsel on a tree? Chasing rainbows?

Then there’s the question, “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” Women in the workplace, beholden to benevolent counterparts for their willingness to allow us onto an equal playing field, just without equal pay, are not a thing of the past. This remains an unfortunate truth.

Now our daughters and sons are out there on their own. The days of ramen noodles and cold pizza are behind us, and yet, we still feel it, that uncertainty that makes us ask what the hell is going on here? This week I experienced one of those moments when I watched a young professional deliver one of the worst presentations I’ve ever had the misfortune to endure. Five minutes into the talk it hit me, I could do a better job than this guy. I felt sick. Why? Because I inquired about the job a year ago and wasn’t even considered.

Throughout my life, it has been necessary for me to be highly flexible and adaptive to change for the benefit of my family. I’ve done double duty and made the best of bad situations. I’m not ungrateful. I just feel cheated. I am not that girl. I’m that other one.

dale-rogerson-pizza
Copyright Dale Rogerson

Women’s Work

Every guy she had encountered eventually became someone she wished she’d never met. Long days, proving herself on the job, enduring endless mansplaining and indecent proposals bled into even longer nights. Instead of waiting by the phone, she studied. A choice she knew would pay off one day. A thousand broken promises had left her with only one to keep, one she made to herself. Then he came along and everything changed. The guy who made her life worth living and gave her a reason to work harder. The one she would love forever. The one who called her Mom.

*****

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I realize my mixing fiction with reality is difficult for some readers. I make no apologies. If you want to read something better, check out the Friday Fictioneers. Thanks, Dale, for another inspiring photo. As always, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields brings it to life with her own take on this week’s prompt.

One more thing. Elinor Burkett’s article, “What Makes A Woman?” in the New York Times is brilliant, articulate, and every single thing I think about the difficulties of presenting a united front for gender equality. Thanks for reading.

Every Day Is Mother’s Day

A couple of weeks ago we were headed out of our neighborhood to go cruising. Yeah, cruising because that’s what middle-aged suburbanites do on Friday nights. When all of a sudden I said, “Oh, oh, oh, stop the car!” A mother duck was also out cruising with her whole brood following across four lanes of traffic from a hotel into the mall parking lot. Even though the speed limit is only 35mph, and the cops patrol this stretch of road pretty heavily, it is a treacherous pass.

I had my camera with me. I slung the strap over my head, got out of the vehicle and stepped into oncoming traffic, hoping to prevent a mother/duckling road kill situation. After all, drivers would certainly see me and stop, right? Some did, some did not.

“Go mama, go mama, go,” I encouraged the determined mother and we made it across.

“Now what? Where am I going?” She was formulating a plan. She seemed confused, from my human point of view, because she was traveling away from any water source that I knew of and was making her way across dangerous territory; taking her babies right along with her. Drivers dart in and out of parking spaces, too busy texting or trying to find a spot closer to the food court to pay attention to humans crossing, much less tiny ducks. I didn’t want them to get crushed under a Kia, unnoticed by the driver trying to get to Bed Bath & Beyond for the Mother’s Day Sale. What a sad way to die.

Another car stopped just then and a young woman got out. Her name was Rachel. She and her mother were having a girl’s night out. They’d just moved to town. Rachel, it turns out, loves animals. Her proud mother told me Rachel will be working this summer at the zoo as a youth volunteer. Rachel seemed excited about the opportunity and she beamed as her mother explained the program to me during the episode of suburban wild kingdom.

Rachel’s mother called animal control, but was told they wouldn’t come. “The ducks are locals, they’ll find their way. They do this all the time,” said the voice of the person NOT going to bother about some ducks at the mall on a Friday night. We don’t have any “ducks crossing” signs around here. I’ve never seen a mama duck with a brood behind her trying to traverse four lanes of big ass SUVs on this road that I travel almost daily.

I am not a “Save the Snails” kind of person, but I found myself embarrassed about our lame local agency’s lack of responsiveness. I guess animal control only comes out for big game, like mountain lions recently reported in the area.

Several other people stopped to watch Duck Aide 2012 while Rachel, her mother and I, like some kind of crazy bird wranglers, tried to guide the mama duck to the median, back across four lanes of traffic and into the brush. All’s well that ends well. The mama and her ducklings made it to safety and are probably getting ready for a big Mother’s Day celebration this weekend. That is if the mountain lions didn’t get ‘em.