May | 2016 | THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID

Monthly Archives: May 2016

Men Are From Mars, Purple Slingshots Are From Venus

My office is about as full of disillusioned thirty-somethings as any office. As such, we’ve begun to build up a bit of a Nerf Gun Arsenal. It started in IT, as Nerf-like things tend to, and has washed over most of the other departments, hiding in desk drawers and file cabinets, just waiting for a quiet Friday afternoon. I was one of the only “kids” left without protection, so our benevolent warehouse manager said he’d bring me my very own Nerf Gun. He asked me to pick between purple and blue, and I of course picked purple. Because I’m fabulous. And apparently naive.

This morning, as I was on the phone performing my best customer service voice, (raised about an octave higher than normal, and a bit clipped at the end), the warehouse manager wordlessly plopped a pink and purple box on my desk, and walked away. I glanced, taken slightly aback at the forced femininity that was flooding my periphery and my eyebrow started the ascension that has lasted until right now. I can’t get it down. Like, help.

Rebelle - Like rebel, but with a fierce manicure.

Rebelle – Like rebel, but with a fierce manicure.

To begin with, it’s not a gun. It’s a “slingshot”. And it’s only one of a sugar & spice line sold at many fine retailers. The line is named, “Rebelle – Secrets & Spies”. It’s like rebel, but without a penis. The word “rebel” would conjure images of testes, vas deferens and any number of male-only biological paraphernalia. I’m certainly thankful for that extra “le”, lest I suddenly sprout (more) facial hair and refuse to change course when playing sidewalk-chicken. The seemingly twenty-something girl on the box is delighted that she’s finally allowed to join in the reindeer games, even if she’s severely under-equipped with only two darts, compared to the big (boys’) lines of semi-automatic Nerf-gasms. But it doesn’t matter. After those two darts are flung, it’ll probably be time for her to get back to more practical fodder. The patriarchy isn’t going to prop itself.

Hey, girlfriend! I'ma shoot ya in the boob.

Hey, girlfriend! I’ma shoot ya in the boob.

Every time I look at this box, I see some other ridiculous and unnecessary detail. The name of this particular toy is, “Slingback”. Get it? Like a slingshot, but a kind of shoe so girls can read the word instead of staring at it for hours until someone mansplains it to them. Little girls do be shopping. Other toys in this line include, “Diamondista”, which combines a girl’s best friend with the last part of “fashionista” so she can still be the cutest gal under the glass ceiling. The “Secret Shot” is a purple and white purse, that I’m guessing shoots darts? Or…holds darts? Or, distracts our young heroine by forcing her to dig through it for seven minutes because she knows there’s a dart in there somewhere? Each toy has white wings drawn on it. The kind of wings you’d see on the back of a bro’s t-shirt. Because, even if she’s shooting you in the face, she’s still your little angel.

Oh, so it opens up into a gun. I get it. Even with my feeble female brain.

Oh, so it opens up into a gun. I get it. Even with my feeble female brain.

The darts. The darts are another thing. One of them is a nice, non-threatening turquoise, tipped in pink. The other is the “decoder” dart, and when you slip it into the handy-dandy decoder sleeve, you can see that it says, “LOL!! :)” Haha…I’m not violent, I’m just cute! Shooting this dart is like sending “JK” at the end of a risky text message. It’s the superfluous sorry of Nerf-warfare.

I’m still going to play with it. I already have ovaries, after all. I’m not in danger. Earlier, one of my male coworkers tried to pick it up and I screamed and slow-motion ran to him to stop it before he gained nipple sensitivity. Because I’m such a good friend. LOL!! 🙂 But seriously, be really careful if you play with this. I shot it at someone earlier and he instantly fell in love with me and then I got pregnant. Because it’s filled with literal girl-feelings.

Dance Dance Evolution

One of my favorite things to tell people about myself is that I used to be a dancer. I throw out the phrase, “competitive hip hop dancer” with downright duplicitous intention and imply that my one or two years coming in dead last at dance competitions somehow qualify me to be on the receiving end of those raised eyebrows of “I had no idea you were so cool.” I like to provide a real life juxtaposition of my current state of physical fitness (see: none) and the implication that I maybe had abs once. Which, for the record, I did not. I did, however, manage to memorize choreography and make a face that looked like I was always trying to inhale my top lip into my nostrils. Also I was pretty good at body rolls. Something I assumed would always be a sexy thing to do in da club.

If this doesn't scream "fake hip hop" your eyes have probably fallen out.

If this doesn’t scream “fake hip hop” your eyes have probably fallen out.

As a young teen, I logged hours in the basement of my parents’ house. Watching, rewinding (kindly) and absorbing Darrin’s Dance Grooves on VHS with a disturbing intensity. I knew the choreography to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”, Britney’s “Crazy” and Jordan Knight’s “Give It To You”. Sometimes I still try to do the crouched, circular bounce-walk from Jordan Knight’s video, but then I get stuck down there and need to be hoisted. One should never be hoisted. Not content with only sharing my gift of bastardized hip hop at sporadic school dances, I pined for the day I turned 16 and would be allowed to hit up “Teen Night” at The Orbit Room. When that day came, I went as often as someone would drive me into the presumed seediness of deep 28th Street urbania. I body-rolled to my heart’s desire and created a slimy layer of sweat between my skin and whichever polyester shirt I had most recently purchased from Charlotte Russe. I was flush with tips from waiting tables at Steak n’ Shake. I was “boop-booping” Grand Rapids boys on my brick of a Nextel and returning to Hudsonville on Monday with tales of “going clubbing”. I was living my best life.

My 18th birthday ushered in dance floors that also contained non-teenage boys. And, I could drive myself there. I salsa danced (and surprisingly did not get pregnant by osmosis) Saturday nights away at Azucar, always wearing the leather stilettos I had bought earlier that year on Spring Break in Italy, even though they made me want to saw my own feet off, and giggled coyly when guys lined up to grind with the gringa. Because at 18, it wasn’t about the dance anymore. It was about the sexual validation. I literally was not even having sex yet, but I knew I was supposed to want people to do it to me. And the way to get them to want to do it to you is to body roll in their general vicinity, right? To remind them that you have a body. It also works to recreate the entire plot of “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” whether or not others know what is happening. When I couldn’t convince anyone else to risk life, limb and rashes by going to Azucar, I’d go to the decidedly more Caucasian, Bucking Beaver. At “The Beav” (we never called it that), I was free to practice my craft, uninterrupted by denim bulges and inexperienced groping. Mostly because I had brown hair and a big ol’ booty, and my thinner, blonder friends were the commodity in that place. It’s fine. I’m fine. Not bitter. Just fine.

This girl is all of us.

This girl is all of us.

Turning 21 coincided with an inexplicable “country phase” I was having. I spent a lot of time pretending Kenny Chesney was sexually appealing and doing my best impression of Gretchen Wilson, even though I was in no way a redneck woman. I abandoned awkward, arrhythmic grinding for spontaneous choreographed stomping in the form of “Country Night at Margarita Grill”. Every Thursday night was spent convincing myself that I liked the idea of farm-boys who really knew how to shake it. I think I might have accidentally created Luke Bryan with my mind. The Grill closed (due to underage drinking and probably unrelated knife fights) and with it, my insatiable need for dance.

I’ve since abandoned dancing as a means to look cool and seduce onlookers. Partly because I can no longer physically dance for longer than the chorus to “Come On Eileen”, but also because I have no idea how people dance now. I’m caught in the purgatory of one’s 30s. Too old to grind (well, old enough to realize that it’s gross and offputting) and keep up with what the kids are doing, but too young to be content with a good bop-n-shuffle. What I’ve settled on, it seems, is taking lyrics to a literal level with pseudo-interpretive dance and turning any dance floor situation into an impromptu lip sync battle. And I gotta tell you. It. Is. Fun. I’m in a very “who cares” place in life and that translates to dance floors across this city. I’m cutting a rug at Stella’s on Fridays and Saturdays, twirling shamelessly to Whitney Houston. I’m joining the geriatrics on the west side at River City Saloon and using their lackadaisical step-n-sway to my advantage, throwing a spin or some other mildly acrobatic move in the mix to clinch my status as “best terrible dancer here”. I have also perfected the minimal-effort-required “chair dance”. Looks intense. Takes no actual stamina. And I’m loving it.

Dancing Man is me. He get it. He just wants to bop.

Dancing Man is me. He get it. He just wants to bop.

So let’s go, Grand Rapids. Let’s get weird and dance like only old people are watching.

 

 

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