I’m delighted to participate in the blog tour for I See Life Through Rosé Colored-Glasses today! I hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt I’m sharing with you. The first essay is Heat Wavering by Lisa Scottoline, and the second is Basic and Proud of It by Francesca Serritella. I can’t decide which one I like best!
I found out something bad about myself and I’m here to confess.
I’m an air-conditioner tyrant. Let me explain.
We begin when Francesca comes home from New York so we could record the audiobook of I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool, so you can listen to it when you drive around, and you have not known bliss until you have our two Philadelphia accents in your ear on a long car ride.
Anyway, when Francesca comes home, in the middle of a week-long heat wave, the first thing she notices is that I don’t have the air-conditioning on.
That was a surprise ending, wasn’t it?
You thought I was going to say that I do have the air conditioner on.
But in fact, one of the quirky things about me is that I don’t like air-conditioning.
Quirky means adorable.
I don’t know why I started hating on air-conditioning, but I always have. Even though I have central air-conditioning, I never use it.
Please allow me to defend myself.
I don’t like feeling like I live inside a refrigerator. I like being the same temperature as my surroundings. And I love to throw open all the windows in the house and let in not only the breeze, but the chirping of the birds and the fresh green smell of mown grass.
I know, I’m so poetic.
Never mind that I’m sweating my ass of. It’s a poetic ass.
I don’t know what to tell you, but I just like fresh air, and the most I do to get cool is put on a fan.
It’s a $20 Lasko fan that you can buy at Home Depot, and I own approximately eight of them. I know it’s not a classy look for the house. When I take a picture for my author page on Facebook, I make sure the fans don’t show.
For my fans.
Plus I’m nostalgic about fans because they remind me of Mother Mary, and she and I used to have a famous fight, wherein she would claim that the fan should be in the window and turned blowing out, so the hot air was sucked out of the room.
We sweated inside the house, cooling the backyard.
She also believed that you could put two fans in opposite windows and create cross-ventilation, but if you’re relying on The Flying Scottolines for physics, you’re in trouble.
So when I grew up, I decided that I would have the fans facing the way God intended, blowing air right at you. And then I got the brilliant idea that a fan didn’t need to be in a window at all, but can be sitting right on the kitchen island next to you while you eat dinner.
Never mind that the fan will send tomato sauce spraying on to your T-shirt.
Think of it as a sea breeze, only Italian.
So as soon as Francesca comes home, she starts lobbying for me to turn on the air-conditioning, and I refuse. I tell her about the fans and Mother Mary and how great it is to feel the wind in your face, even if you bought the wind at Home Depot.
Francesca lets me have my way until the temperature turns 92° outside, a fact she proves by pointing to the air-conditioner thermostat. “Mom, do you see this? This is very hot. We need to turn on the air conditioner.”
“No we don’t. I feel fine. Sit in front of the fan.”
“I am and I’m still hot.”
“But I hate air-conditioning.”
“I love air-conditioning. Mom, can’t you compromise, just a little?”
“No,” I tell her, meaning it. I hate compromising, too. I’ve spent my whole life compromising and now I avoid it at every opportunity.
And it feels great. Even if I’m sweaty. And you are, too.
You might think I’m a bad person, but I’m just a woman who has put everyone else first for a long time, and now it’s my turn.
If you’re a woman reading this, perhaps you identify. And if you don’t, you’ve lived your life better than I have.
But then Francesca said to me, “Mom, look at the dogs, they’re panting.”
So I looked over on the kitchen floor, and Francesca was right. All six dogs had their tongues out, even though they had their own fan. And then I realized I could give my dogs heatstroke inside my own house.
So I compromised and turned on the air-conditioning. And I learned something bad about myself.
That I compromised for my dogs, but not for my daughter. A fact which I pointed out to Francesca, who just laughed. But I learned a lesson.
Sometimes compromising is okay. But don’t make a habit of it.
And don’t compromise a lot. Only by degrees.
Basic and Proud of It
In the summer I drink rosé.
In the fall I drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes. In the winter I wear Uggs.
All year long, I wear black yoga pants to do everything but yoga.
I watch every show on Bravo. I’m basic and proud of it.
I don’t remember exactly when I became aware of what “basic” meant as it refers to women. Probably whatever belated point new slang passes through black culture, then gay culture, then teen culture, before coming to rest among millennial white women.
Basic means mainstream, lame, unoriginal. It is used most frequently in reference to women, often with an expletive:
I can see how, among a marginalized group, “basic” as a putdown expresses an empowering reversal of power in an unjust social hierarchy.
If society doesn’t accept you the way you are, screw them, they’re just basic.
I love it used that way!
But as often happens, something got lost in translation when the term was appropriated by a wider audience. Now it seems the term “basic” has become a sexist dig used to undermine women and mock those things that women enjoy.
Specifically, those things we enjoy without men’s agreement or approval.
They don’t like how we look in Uggs. They don’t prefer sweet, flavored coffee. They don’t drink pink wine.
(Or they do, and they have to pretend like they don’t, because that’s girl stuff.)
I think they’re missing out. Women have excellent taste.
There’s an irony, of course, in using the notion of generic “basicness” of women against them, when women are otherwise pilloried for not fitting into the narrow parameters society lays down for us.
Everything about women is more unique than society would like us to be. We’re too many different shapes and sizes, our hair too many different textures, our opinions too loud and too varied, our orgasms too complicated.
Why should we apologize for our preferences? If many women, in all our glorious variations, agree that something is pretty great, maybe it is.
Uggs are comfortable. I don’t care if they’re ugly. Neither do Uggs, they tell you so right in the name.
Do you know how many women’s fashion items privilege comfort over appearance? One: Uggs.
That’s hardly basic; it’s downright subversive.
Same with yoga pants. Do you know how much a woman can get done in a day? On any given Saturday, she needs to run across town, and bend to pick up the kids, and stretch to reach the top shelf at the grocery, and sit working on the computer.
They expect us to do all that in skinny jeans?
Believe me, namaste or not, a woman’s life warrants a performance material.
Perhaps the most absurd assumption about the “basic bitch” is a beverage choice or a love of elastic tells you everything there is to know about her.
The idea that the superficial explains the interior is straight out of the sexist playbook, and women should reject it, not use it against each other.
The patriarchy is the original basic bitch.
Case in point: I was recently on the dating app Bumble, and I saw a guy whose bio read, “My type: NOT a girl wearing yoga pants and Uggs with a PSL attached to her hand.”
Mind you, this man’s profile also said he worked in finance, went to Cornell, and enjoyed hiking, travel, and “good food.”
A true original!
I swiped right only to message him: “Finance bros in glass office buildings shouldn’t throw stones.”
He did not reply.
Sadly, I didn’t have to wonder about the strategy of putting down the basic girl in his dating profile. Dating apps allow wannabe pickup artists to neg with a wide net, in other words, use the ploy that denigrating a swath of women will attract one via our competitive spirit and our desire to prove ourselves worthy of his approval.
Pick me, I’m not like other women, I’m different and better.
Too often, it works.
When sexism in our society communicates to women, you’re interchangeable, you’re replaceable, you’re disposable, you’re basic, we’re inclined to defend ourselves by saying, “Not me.”
But a better answer to that nonsense is, “Not us.”
Otherwise, we’re playing by the rules they give us, even as we know the game is rigged. When women adopt the tactics men use to diminish us, we all lose.
I once asked an old boyfriend to stop using the word “slut” because it offended me. His defense was that it shouldn’t because the word didn’t apply to me, I was classy and deserving of respect, unlike some women.
This is some basic bullshit.
Sisters, beware. Beware the trap of elevating yourself by trampling on other women. First, it’s wrong. And second, it doesn’t work. What undermines one of us undermines all.
The only solution is sisterhood.
And that doesn’t mean sameness. Sisterhood means less judgment of each other, less negative comparison. It means greater acceptance, compassion, and expression of all our different views.
And some shared ones. Pass the rosé.
Copyright © 2018 by Smart Blonde, LLC, and Francesca Scottoline Serritella and reprinted by permission of St Martin’s Press.