Last night was completely fucked up in all the best ways. Well, most of them. And it’s led to semi-deep thoughts.
Mind you, I hadn’t had enough sleep. I’d had a shitty day at work, following the shittiest four-day weekend I’ve had in forever, and just that afternoon our call center director had asked me how things were, which led to me saying “not good” and then doing too much sniveling on the way home from lunch to feel capable of stopping by the gas station for a lighter. So this is the context.
One of my most cherished friends, one of the very first I ever met upon the intertoobz and who has been a presence in my life for a surprisingly long time, was up visiting from Oregon. He wanted to hang out. Hadn’t seen each other for ages, had we? And so, instead of heading straight home for bed, I picked him up in Lynnwood after work. We’d just do some pie, jibber-jabber for an hour or so, and then home for me.
Pie happened. Jibber-jabbering took place. And somehow led to us comparing notes on chick flicks we’d seen and liked. Not that this was something we’d necessarily confess in public (hence me hiding his identity, and not telling you about some of the other awesome stuff we discussed. He can out himself if he wishes). He gave me shit for not liking Love, Actually as much as everybody else on the planet. I couldn’t believe he’d never seen Bridget Jones’s Diary. And there was a moment of regret when I discovered I’d deleted Anything But Love from my DVR to make room for all the Doctor Who and science programs, without having checked to see if this was a film that could be easily obtained via Amazon Instant Video. Whoops.
This discussion should not have happened. He is a manly man. I am a chick-flick disdaining woman. But he’s got lady friends who loves them some chick flicks, and is secure enough in his masculinity to watch such films with them and appreciate the well-written ones. And I’ve got a Muse who sometimes decides that sexual frustration is conducive to the writing process. Hence, we know our chick flicks.
Having been denied our Anything But Love experience, we turned to a chick flick I’d actually been astonished by. It was one of those freebies from On Demand I’d watched during the chick flick marathon, and I’d watched it mostly because I couldn’t believe anyone had made a movie about such a ridiculous premise. 27 Dresses? Really? The title alone is horrid. And then it’s about a woman who’s been in a bunch of weddings and kept all of the bridesmaid dresses. Puh-leeze.
But it turned out to be funny and clever and touching. Surprisingly good. So I bought it, and we watched it last night.
What interested me most was how who in the story we identified with. My friend, who is one of those white knight types, identified with Jane, the perpetual bridesmaid. She, like him, is one of those people who goes around perpetually sacrificing her own happiness and time for other people. The reliable one everybody takes for granted. Too nice for her own good. Believes that one day, forever-after will be hers. And a bit on the hopeless romantic side.
I, OTOH, identify with Kevin. Stuck in a job he hates by way of getting to where he wants to go. Cynical about love and marriage and all that rot. Perpetual bachelor. Decency and kindness often swamped by the definite not-nice traits. Encourages friends and sometimes random strangers to stop being unfailingly nice and be bad every once in a while, for their own health and happiness. Did I mention the cynical about relationships and even more so about weddings bit?
And I realized, once again, the truth.
The truth is that these roles we think are filled by men and women are actually filled by people. Guys can be mushy-gushy I-believe-in-love sorts. Women can be the love-is-for-fools type. I’ve known hetero men who are far more in to fashion than I am. I’ve been the one saying, “Fuck talking” while a significant other thinks We Need to Communicate More. Except for those of us who feel trapped by society’s gender roles, who are terrified to put a toe over the line into the territory supposedly reserved for the other gender alone, most of us inhabit pieces of the whole genderscape. We’re a mishmash of all sorts of different traits. We pick and choose what works for us, what really is us, regardless of whether it’s supposed to be for a boy or girl.
And we should. Men and women both should feel completely comfortable poaching on one another’s territory. Those boundaries are all artificial anyway.
The boys who played dress-up with me and my girlfriends when we were kids were no less boys than the ones who preferred toy soldiers. And the girls who liked to go jump bikes and play Cops and Robbers weren’t any less girls than the ones who set up elaborate Barbie houses. As we get older, that Us vs. Them shit should fade away. We should be able to identify with who and what we want without worrying if the pinks and blues are “properly” sorted.
I’m Kevin, he’s Jane. We both like chick flicks, and Firefly. And we’re completely comfortable with all that. In the end, it’s not male or female, it’s simply human.