My mother-in-law made my husband go to Cotillion when he was in middle school. It was anachronistic, embarrassing and a complete drag. She wasn’t a debutante herself but she married well and had, oh, I don’t know…’aspirations’ for her sons?
One can only imagine how disappointed she must have been when my husband chose a Jewish girl from a poor family, an actress from the other side of the country, to marry and raise kids with. “One can” but I don’t have to because she made it pretty obvious.
I didn’t know anyone from the South when I got together with him and even though my husband insists to this day that Virginia is not the South but rather someplace called The MidAtlantic, if like me you were born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, it’s the South. Unfortunately, no matter how accurately he described the split-level tract home he was raised in, I kept seeing “Tara”. I was a bit disappointed when I finally saw the actual place, although you could walk to the end of the development and into the beautiful Northern Virginia woods in ten minutes or less.
There were some perks for marrying Rhett. One was that, when absolutely forced to, he could still do a passable fox trot and waltz but of course, he wasn’t forced to very often. Another was that when my 13 year old son called me a ‘bitch’, just trying it out I think, my husband wildly overreacted, grounded him for a very long time and shamed him into thinking he was a barbarian. He never did it again, at least not to me. I had a different approach to respect for women, of course. I told both my sons that if any of their friends ever told them that they ‘threw like a girl’ they should say “Thanks” enthusiastically as if they’d meant to do that. Not sure that made as big an impression, though.
I don’t think my husband considers himself to be a feminist. He loves and respects women, he thinks they should be promoted, voted for, respected, paid just like men. They should have the same opportunities, the same benefits. He’s actually a bit ‘girl crazy’ and most of my friends end up flirting with him, its irresistible.
One day, when he wasn’t pouring out Cosmos and flattering my friends, he took the ferry from SF back to Alameda. He often took it when he went bike riding, at least on the trip home, it’s so lovely.
This day was uncharacteristically warm and crowded with tourists. As he got to the back deck he was proceeded by a young woman in a very small halter top and torn, tight-fitting short shorts. As she stepped on the deck another man, white like my husband and in his 50s as my husband was then blocked the young woman’s path and started yelling at her because of her clothes, saying she looked like a whore and that other people shouldn’t have to look at her.
My husband put his bike and himself between the belligerent man and the young woman and told the guy to shut up.
“Oh, because you like the way she looks?” The other man said.
“No, because its none of your fucking business what she’s wearing, you asshole,” my husband said.
The guy faced off like he wanted to hit my husband but my husband, although slender, is 6’1” tall and didn’t even pretend that he would step aside.
“You need to mind your own fucking business,” the guy said, stepping closer and sticking out his plumped up chest.
“And you,” my husband said, pointing at it, “need to shut the fuck up and step off so this young lady can walk around you and not have to hear any more of your shit.”
I wasn’t there so I don’t know if he got a resounding round of applause, I hope so. The young lady made her way to the other side of the boat. I hope she wasn’t too scared. I hope she understood that at least one of the people on that boat was a true gentleman and forever after would be.