Sunday, October 24, 2004

All Dressed Up, And No One To Go Home To

Why does everyone assume the pretty girl is always taken?

That's my question after a run-in with a clerk at Wal Mart Saturday.

I spent the day in the clubhouse at Keeneland, safe from the rain and dressed to the nines in my killer knee-high leather boots. It was a day of rubbing elbows with the hoity-toity set, and I loved every minute of it. I consider myself an expert at people watching... and my semi-annual trip inside the inner sanctum of the horsey set is a rare treasure I file away in my memories of ogling.

Keeneland has two parts to it... the clubhouse, and the part for everyone else. The "commoners side" (where I spend most of my time) has a come-as-you-are attitude with folks in blue jeans, khakis, and everything from t-shirts to casual button downs. It's the side where everyone's allowed to pretty much roll out of bed and wear what ever the hell they want for a day at the races.

image courtesy of Keeneland

The other side is the embodiment of formalities. Men must wear coat and tie, women are expected to wear dresses, skirts or nice suit pants. Denim would be enough to send some of those old biddies into cardiac arrest. Other folks may be intimidated by the high society set, but my mother is a Junior Leaguer so I grew up exposed to a wide array of social settings. Mom taught me well to say please and thank-you, which fork is the salad fork and how to be polite and charming around other folks who are polite and charming. I guess I feel equally comfortable with the upper crust as I do with those who eat Wonderbread.

So yesterday I put on my boots, a smart camel hair skirt, and a beautiful cream colored silk wrap over my wool, black turtle neck. It was a perfect disguise for my task of invading the Other side.

SO. Let me press fast forward. I wow everyone at tailgating with a special breakfast dish, catch up with an old friend whom I hadn't seen in years, and win $12.60 on a one dollar exacta bet (boxed, by the way. It's far safer).

The rain made for a sloppy track towards the end, so I popped up my black umbrella for my walk towards the car. I am a bit ambivalent about rainstorms. Sometimes I hate them because they hinder my plans to enjoy the great outdoors, but Saturday was different. The rainy weekend evening inspired me to cozy up inside and rest my aching feet (the boots) and equally hurting ass (squats and lunges at the gym Friday).

I walked into the nearest Wal-Mart with my whole Keeneland gettup on: the boots, the skirt. I had taken the wrap off and replaced it with a coat I had left in my car, this darling black quilted coat that hits right at the hips with these little zippers on either side... they're kind of popular around these parts in the way of classy little jackets. Needless to say, I looked VERY dressed up for a trip to the ol' Big Box Store.

Image courtesy of the California Observer

So I walk in to the store and head straight for the movies. I figure I can spend a little more and keep the movies I pick, instead of shelling out and returning them to a video rental place (no offense to the fine folks at Blockbuster). I settled on Sweet Home Alabama and Monster's Ball - both thumbs up in my book.

Anyway, after a swing through the frozen foods section for a pizza... I stood there and thought So this is my Saturday night. (Shrugs shoulders) Oh well. I made my way to the check-out line, and that's where the clerk got the hamster in my head running overtime.

She was heavy set and apparently has a heavy hand where eyeliner is concerned. Probably about 35 or so. I couldn't help but notice the various gold rings with little gem chips on so many of her fingers. I could tell she is patient and cautious when painting her pink, frosty fingernails. My clerk was probably on the new side because a thinner, younger girl stood beside her, making sure everything was punched in and swiped correctly. My lady with the eye-lined eyes appeared proud and busy with the task at hand, perhaps it was a new job she was thrilled to have, happily wearing that red, white and blue nametag. Working an honest job at the Wal-Mart check out line, bringing home a little money to call her own.

She easily scanned my two tapes (no, I haven't moved up to a DVD player yet) and veggie primavera pizza when she made what she perhaps considered an off handed comment, but to me it was a lightning rod that shot into my inner being.

"Movie night on a rainy night. I'm jealous. If only I had someone at home to snuggle with. All I got is two kids, and they don't even wanna hug me. Say I got cooties or something."

If only I had someone at home to snuggle with.

I thought about saying something as I handed over my sixteen bucks and change. For a fleeting moment I could have shared a moment with that lady with the rings on all her fingers, telling her I didn't have someone at home, either. I could have gushed that I was going to drive home to my little apartment and far too messy bedroom to hunker down with me, myself and I to watch my tapes and eat my frozen pizza.

Part of me wanted to share my singleness with the clerk, kind of like a secret handshake to an underground society folks don't mention they belong to. The other side of me won out though, shamefully keeping it hush-hush from this clerk pounding away on the register at Wal-Mart.

I gathered my new belongings and headed for the door, making my way to my broken but paid off VW Jetta. The whole ride home, my windshield wipers kept time as thoughts about what the clerk said raced through my mind. Why did she say that? Why did she assume I had someone to go home to? Was it because I was all dressed up? Does pretty girl equate taken in our society? What is this algebraic theory I've never heard of?

If this is the conclusion the clerk jumped to, I started wondering how many other people operate on this theory. Could this be a piece to the puzzle of why I'm still single?


Pratt said...

Very good writing. I enjoyed reading your blog.Keep at it!

Patrick H. said...

I think our culture shows far more pretty women who are spoken for than who are available, so to speak, Kate. Perhaps you feel that's unfair, but that's the way it is, I'm afraid. And very pretty women can often be a bit intimidating to men who may feel that asking you out would only result in a flat rejection. Sadly, I understand that mindset by my own bitter experiences, but I'm guessing you've little interest in all that mess.

Just keep the faith, and sooner or later your Mr. Wonderful will come sweep you away, darlin'


Funqi said...

I had some profound words of wisdom to share here, but now that I'm posting I can't seem to bring the thoughts together. It seems to me that this experience is quite common. When out at bars men approach women and so very often ask the question "Where's your boyfriend tonight?" trying to probe to find out if there is a boyfriend but at the same time making an assumption that the pretty girl sitting with her friends must have one.

As women we are expected to covet a relationship and if we aren't out there seeking one, then we must be at home enjoying one. It's assumed that if we are home alone on a Saturday night it is not of our own volition. Poppycock! Being, pretty, independant and put together is a positive trait, not a negative, only problem with it is that it IS intimidating for men, men want women they can mold (similiar to women who want to change men) and they need somebody who has less of their stuff together then they do. It's an inferiority thing. Therefore if you are that woman who looks to have it all together, you must have a man behind you holding you up.

Oddly enough most women think the opposite, except your Walmart clerk! People make assumptions of others all the time. It's when these assumptions are verbalized that they take us by surprise. Sometimes they are far off the mark and others they are right on the money.

That Prince will walk in and instantly recognize what a gem he has found, he will have the confidence to approach you and not make the assumptions as other men do =)

Pink Poppy said...

Hey Kate, The short answer is, "Yes". Yes, it is assumed that pretty girls are "taken" and Yes, to what eveyone else said. I still think that you need to be in a larger area where there are more guys who are successful, confident and willing to stick their necks out. Speaking from experience here, I can tell you that I had to move out of a large southern city and into an even larger metropolitan area in order to find my guy. It takes a VERY confident man to be able to handle a confident, attractive, intelligent woman who speaks her mind! The larger the town, the larger the pool of potential, IMHO.

Meanwhile, I feel your pain!

Micah said...

I can't speak for all guys, but whenever I see a pretty woman I assume that she's taken. She's attractive, why wouldn't she be attached? Then I get this "why bother?" attitude, because even if she wasn't taken, she probably wouldn't be interested in me (healthy outlook, I know). And then I stay home and drink alone. Heh heh.