I’ve never been friends with girly-girls. Which is funny, as people who don’t know me well would probably describe me thusly due to my obsession with Kate Spade.
That’s not to say I’ve never done the nail-polish sleepovers, the endless analysis of significant others, and I can talk smack about fashion do’s and don’ts until Fashion Week produces something I’d actually wear or the world ends. Whichever comes first. Most of my female friends can hold their own on the various and sundry topics that the Barnes & Nobles chick-lit section tells us we should find relatable. Clothes, relationships, shoes, weddings, the color pink, purses (but legit, purses are important), feelings, etc. You know. Girly shit.
The difference is perhaps how we talk about these topics. For example when I do girl talk it tends to go a bit more like this (taken from actual conversations):
Dating advice: “I don’t know why you insist on thinking pursuing this relationship is a good idea. He’s a Soviet winter and you’re Hitler’s invasion. Third time is not the charm – ask Napoleon: it always ends in untold death and dismay.”
Attraction: “There is no finer piece of ass on this earth than the rear end of a Ferrari.”
Shopping: “You have to approach it like Sherman’s March to the Sea, no prisoners, no regret, – scorch and burn until you’ve completed the mission.”
Celebrity Crushes: “I’ve been watching the James Rhodes YouTube channel for three days straight. He’s not attractive, he was formerly sectioned, and he smokes like a chimney, but watching that man play Rachmaninov is piano p*rn.”
Girl’s Night Movies: “I just dug out my Band of Brother’s collection or I have all of this season’s Top Gear saved.”
Engagement Rings: “If someone wants to spend a month’s paycheck on me, I’ll direct them to the Canon 5D Mark III. Who needs karats when you have 21 megapixels?”
To say the least, I’m probably doing it wrong. Yesterday I had an hour long conversation regarding the best shade of Butter London nail polish that turned into a debate on the practicum of post-colonial theory. It worked because I was speaking to a former sorority girl who picked her house by their dedication to no-make-up game days and ability to annihilate any frat boy who dared to think they knew more about football than they did. And she’s the girliest girl I know. Put me around women who actually know how to do this and I get looks as if I suggested the Christmas Day truce in No Man’s Land in World War I. During a business trip, while my female colleagues were looking at People and US Weekly and referencing reality show celebrities I couldn’t identify if they’d been a despot, I was laughing at a Shroedinger’s cat joke “Wanted: Dead AND Alive.” They didn’t get it. But fair enough. I had no idea what catfishing was aside from something you do in the Delta.
Fortunately, I am not the only socially awkward failure at girl talk. In the tabs below we’ve given you a four-in-one recount of when girl talk has felt like being kicked in the ovaries.
[tabs tab1=”2.5 Kids & a White Picket Fence” tab2=” Clueless in Weddingville ” tab3=”Your Akwardness Makes Me Want To Be Celibate“]
I watch bridal TV shows with my friends and roommates and they discuss how they want their weddings to be, all displayed happily on their Pinterest boards. I listen to them talk about scoop necks, “Save The Date” notes, and square cut rings and I have to wonder if I missed this lesson in elementary school. For me, weddings have always been this terrifying thing that happens to other people and will never ever happen to me. I never dressed up in a sheet and married my stuffed animals or even pictured it at all. Still haven’t. I am completely inept when it comes to discussing weddings because the thought of walking down the aisle with people staring at you seems like some awful dream I would have in high school.
On top of that, I don’t really get talking about marriage or children in general. The idea of “2.5 kids and a white picket fence” scares the living crap out of me. For you HIMYM fans, I am the living, breathing Robin. I will listen opened mouthed as you discuss how your wedding will be on the plantation where the Notebook was filmed and where you’ll move, and your baby names and all I think about is the fact that your $3,000 wedding dress could EASILY buy me the french bulldog I want and that could be my child and I could never ever have to procreate. Trust me, the world doesn’t need any more loud-mouthed, sarcastic little me’s running around. I’m all for your plans of having children, sweet! Great for you! I’ll be there when they’re born, be the kick-ass aunt, and dole out sweet advice while the Full House “dramatic music” plays in the background. Also I’ll have that french bulldog…yeah. See? That I can talk about.
I never really had a stereotypically female role model growing up. My mother is a grown-up tomboy and feminist who prefers the company of animals to the cattiness and drama of fellow women. The majority of my friends growing up were male, and the few who were actually female were tomboys or, like me, “Daria types,” as I like to call them, in reference to the 90s cartoon. We didn’t respond to gossip any more than we did to people telling us that we shouldn’t wear logging boots with our dresses or that we shouldn’t aim to be wrestlers or mechanics or scientists.
Since those early days, I have never approached the idea of any institution or norm without scrutiny and/or critique. It just seems lazy to me. So when a friend talks to me about how a guy didn’t pay for the first date or how some behavior or another points to an interest or lack thereof, all I can muster in response is, “Um, why don’t you just talk to the guy?” This is apparently not a suitable response. I’m supposed to reinforce some irrational claims and probably at the same time feed into her insecurity.
I remember the first time I dated another girl, I did not get the game—how apparently everything I was saying actually meant something else. I’d say I couldn’t hang out one night because I had a big paper due the next day, and she’d start crying, whimpering about how I didn’t love her. My mind was blown with sheer confusion. At that point I realized how out of sync I was with womankind.
The latest manifestation of this feeling occurred recently, when I found myself at a bachelorette party full of people I mostly did not know. Unsurprisingly, I was never the type to dream of a wedding day or marriage as the end all be all. My mother once offered me her wedding dress to use in a burlesque act because she could care less. I definitely was not raised to become a blushing bride.
By the end of the weekend, my tongue was bloodied from the amount of times I had to literally bite it in order to keep my mouth shut. At one point there was a ten minute long share and discuss session around all the engagement rings in the room. I wanted to join in, talk about how there’s no such thing as a conflict-free diamond, and really what is this obsession with shiny things in our society about anyway? Also isn’t the whole engagement ritual a bit…sexist? I knew such conversation topics would not be welcomed so I just backed up and tried to dissolve into the wall.
One girl mentioned how she cried for three days the day after her wedding because “the best day of her life was over.” Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to comfort her with sympathetic words like, “Sorry, it’s all downhill, ya know, spending the rest of your life with that person that you presumably love. Sounds awful.”
The worst part was the assumption that we were all on the same page: that not only did we all aim to one day get married–and in such a heteronormative manner–but that we all viewed it with the same reverence. Like living with the gestapo, we were stared down anytime anyone brought up any topic that wasn’t some neutered dribble about marriage or love. God forbid we express other interests or attempt to move beyond a one-dimensional discussion. We all had to play into this fantasy of how this was the pinnacle of female existence.
I am, however casually, a student of anthropology, so I get the importance of ritual, the catharsis, the need for some degree of pomp and circumstance. I also secretly geek out about event designing and coordination, so I can understand the sheer joy of picking wedding colors and decorating a venue. What I don’t understand is the absoluteness of it all—this secret underground club of women and the assumption of all that we desire. I don’t measure my success by my relationship status, nor do I judge others by that criterion, so sorry if I don’t fit your vision of womanhood. Next time I’ll skip the bachelorette party…or at least pack more booze.
I hate talking about relationships. I hate talking about new crushes, or first dates, or romantic gestures, or how terrible your boyfriend is. As you might have picked up from my recent post about dating advice, I’m one of those people who won’t talk about my relationship, and feels uncomfortable hearing about yours.
That’s not to say that I don’t care. I do care! My best friend has been going through a succession of first dates and “does he like me?” and “are we dating?” and “what does this mean?” and she’s been wanting to talk about it. And I care! I’m excited for her! But I have absolutely no clue how to show it. I try to engage. “Oh, so what’s he majoring in?” or “Is he smarter than you?” or “Oh he likes kids? Shows he’s not a sociopath!” or my worst line yet “I don’t know why you’re crying, but I’m supposed to hate him now, right?”
I know my friends aren’t getting any solace or enjoyment out of my awkward questions. In a recent conversation about a date I made a comment along the lines of “well I assume if he liked you he would show it” which is apparently the most stupid thing ever to say to a girl who is trying to figure out if a guy likes her. It’s gotten to the point where one day my friend sat down, took my hand and went “Sweetie, don’t. I know you care. I know you’re happy I’m happy. But your awkwardness about dating conversations makes me want to be celibate.”
So let’s all take my friend’s advice. Unless you want to be celibate, don’t talk to me about boys. Just assume that I will always be happy for you, and I will always hate him if you tell me to. Isn’t that good enough?
I’m not sure if this means we don’t quite fit the mold that your classic “Girl Talk” prescribes to or if it’s a larger commentary on how we’re less willing to be limited by what society tries to define as “women’s issues.” In the case of Hope and I, it’s probably more the fact that we spent our formative years with women who lived by the motto that short women should drive big trucks, have big dogs, and bigger balls than any man – but look like a lady while doing it. How’s that for a mixed message?
Perhaps it’s exactly the right one: embrace your femininity but define your own parameters of how you express it. I’m always going to be a Kate Spade carrying, pearl wearing, lover of fast cars, and relate all things to wars or a dead philosopher. I’m probably never going to know what a Kardashian is and I’m always going to be too socially awkward to handle the Cosmo rendition of “girl talk” or even being that kind of girl. And that’s the core of it, maybe we suck at girl talk because we’re just not those girls. I’m always going to be a walking contradiction and wish I’m a little better at it, that it comes a little easier, and fitting in with other women is a little simpler.
But at the end of the day, I think I’m ok with breaking down the pink wall while wearing a J.CREW pink Jackie cardigan while me and my girls dish over our version of celebrity pics and argue over our top ten favorite Vladimir Putin “Man of Action” moments.
So what about y’all? Agree? Disagree? Tell us your tales on #girltalk. Tweet us @litdarling
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