Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Dark Side

In most things in life, there is a dark side and a light side. The dark side can be anything from true evil ala Darth Vader or Satan to dark humor...which personally makes me laugh in spite of myself. The light side of things is bright and sunny, funny and fair...and we feel as though we are walking around with animated Disney animals as our companions.

We women know all about the dark side, eh girls? You know how we are...so let me just carry you to a few familiar places. Now, we as a group don't mean to be catty, but in those years where we think that there is one big pie and if someone's slice is bigger than ours, it is necessary to chip away at theirs for survival. At least that's what we've been trained to think. Never mind that there are tons of other pies out there that were meant for us...we are determined to have THIS pie and we will snatch it out of someone's hands in a minute. Silly, isn't it?

However, I have found that most of the "dark side" comments that I have heard involve two major areas: dress or behavior. We seem to be most judgmental about these two in the South, and with good reason. Someone is always doing something to make us go, "Girl, did you see that?" or "What was she thinking?" And you know I'm right.

Case in point: we show up at any random gathering and will find to our horror that someone in attendance has recently done something noteworthy or is currently wearing something absolutely heinous. We don't mean to notice...we just do. Even when we try not to.

Let's just use what I unfortunately witnessed on Bid Day last Sunday...the spectacle of having a shapely blonde with her boobs hanging out the front of her dress. Mind you, we are entertaining parents in the house, and our brand new pledges. And Miss Thing is sitting there half undressed, and I don't know if she's a sister, a visitor, or something that just dragged in from another house. I'd like to think it is the latter, but I'm afraid that this is a long shot.

So, instead of going up and saying..."Excuse me, but your 'girls' seem to be planning a mutiny" discreetly and privately, I just blushed and thought that she needed to cover herself as I walked by. Unfortunately, I met someone's eyes and that someone else was having the same reaction. Our eyes were saying what we had willed our lips to keep quiet...."Oh, my goodness!"

Other times, after a fairly recent "changing of the guard" so to speak in the wife arena, the new person will show up at a social function with the old dog. She wants to be accepted, but all of the other women know the intimate details of what just went on...and they are not really interested in being friends with...um...HER. So, she ends up drinking too much, and later passes out in the upstairs bedroom while the wedding is going on below. I'd like to say that this is an exaggerated and hypothetical example, but alas...NO. This one actually happened.

Granted, in some social situations, after a few cocktails, someone will actually get enough liquid courage to let somebody know something that everyone thinks that she should know but we aren't really prepared to let her know although we all know that she really needs to know what is going on. Hope you followed that. This normally happens right as SHE is making a perfectly harmless comment about the performance of the 9-10 year old boys' baseball team in the most recent tournament...to somebody's husband. What results after this is almost NEVER pretty.

But entering the dark side does not necessarily mean that those being discussed have to be anywhere in the vicinity. Sometimes there is a delayed reaction. I remember many years ago lying in bed listening to a group of women discussing an entire host of people from a gathering the night before. Here's just a sampling of some of those comments...which may or may not be true.

"She was such a pretty girl...it's a shame she just let herself go."

"I always thought she was such a quiet thing. I hear that her husband is spending a little too much time with his receptionist."

"Oh heavens yes...those are definitely her mother's hips on that tiny frame she inherited from her father's people."

"She was so perky and sweet when they first married...such a shame that she pledged that awful sorority and ended up marrying that boy from Jonesboro."

"That has got to be the largest 6 month pregnant woman I have ever seen. Bet that premature baby ends up weighing 10 lbs."

Yes. The dark side.

And in a sorority? Well, depending upon where you went to school, you will have a distinct impression of the various sororities that you will carry with you...for life. And there will always be one sorority that you run neck and neck with during Rush Week and in every single pageant on the campus. And, of course, you will never miss an opportunity to point out any indiscretion of that particular group of unfortunate women who were not special enough to be pledged to your sorority. So, they don't make quota? You smirk. They pledge something that is on a personal mission to wear out the Standards Committee? You will remember it 36 years later.

Not that you want them to necessarily fail...because you enjoy that healthy competition...even if it isn't much of a competition. You just want them to know their place. Especially if you think that their place is prison, in a barn, or in a van down by the river. You will always know that your house is better, your girls are prettier, and your grades are higher. And, of course, they ARE.

Not that we don't all make mistakes. We do. We have. We've pledged the table dancing girl...briefly. But, somehow we just seem to forget all of that as we are watching Miss Thing and her short skirt sashay around as we roll our eyes. Yes, we see what pin she is wearing. Yes we do.

And while we are very familiar with the dark side, it is equally true that we try to shine light wherever we can. We will circle around someone who is having something handed to her that she doesn't deserve. Instead of being unkind, we will initially assume that the poor thing doesn't know any better, or that her nerves are poor because her Daddy is sick. We know that we have some advantages that others do not, and we do not fault them for what they cannot help. We will even be happy for a local girl if she pledges a sorority that we just absolutely detest...as long as it is at another university.

But somebody that SHOULD know better? That's a different matter entirely.

Yes, life has its dark side...but the funny thing is that in thinking about it...there's an aspect of light to it as well. We see things come around and bite people that we knew were headed their way. We laugh at the snide little comment about those "fill in the blank sorority" and know that across the way, they are dishing it out as well.

But if you see me with spinach in my teeth, you'd better tell me to my face!

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