Old B*tch in the Club

This is not cute.

A few weeks ago I was watching Chris Rock's movie "I Think I Love My Wife" and there was a part when ole girl was talking about why she was deciding to settle down, and one phrase she said has been haunting me ever since:

"I'm 32 years old...... I'm the old bitch in the club."

That statement right there reached right out of the TV and punched me in my face.  It's not that this was some deep revelation that I'd never thought about before.  No, quite the contrary.  I'd been thinking about this A LOT when I've been out at the club, feeling all sorts of annoyance at the songs people were getting hype to, irritation at the ridiculousness of the attire (while at the same time feeling self conscious at my own neo-hippie attire), and frustration the next day (and the day after and the day after) at my sore joints and inability to shake a hangover like I used to.  No, ole girl didn't tell me something I didn't know; she told me something I already knew quite well but was trying my best to ignore.

When I was younger I always said I never wanted to be that old bitch in the club.  The chick that just thinks she's out there killin' the game, when the game she's trying to kill actually passed away 5 years ago.  There's a sort of a sad, pathetic air to her that makes you vow to never be her in 10 years, and instead be someone's kept wife and soccer mom to 2.5 kids and NOT have your ass still in the club.  She and her crew may try to justify their existence by labeling themselves as cougars, when in reality they are just some old chicks that need to go somewhere and saddown.

In a few days I turn 32. I was cool with 30, even cool with 31, but there's something about 32 that's not sitting too nicely with me.  I feel like I ought to be progressing forward through the stages of life, not trying to convince myself that I still belong in a prior stage.  No, I am not saying I am old.  32 is NOT old.  But it is starting to be too old to carry on like I did at 23 every single weekend, out in the club, feet hurting, listening to bad music, trying to be seen, and that being a main focus in life.  I ought to be focusing on building a life for myself, progressing in my career, making lasting relationships with family and friends that will be around long after the party is over.  It's not so much 32 itself that's bothering me, but this mounting pressure to "prove" I'm not old by pushing myself past my ever shrinking limits.  It seems like giving up on (or at least backing down from) those things is seen as defeat, as if life is over and you might as well spend your free time digging your own grave with a teaspoon.

I think I just want to be ok with the fact that I don't want to hang out every single Friday and Saturday night, plus be out all during the week as well.  I want to be ok with getting a movie from the Redbox, an Amy's organic cheese pizza and a bottle of wine and sitting on my couch on a Friday night instead of trying to figure out where the party is.  It's not so much that I am getting old, it's that the club scene is getting old.  The novelty has worn off..... I know all the DJ's mixes, I have a man so I don't need to be validated by men trying to talk to me, I'm past the age where I give a damn about "being seen" or showing off the latest fashions so I can get the approval of other females, and I can make the same stronger drinks at home for a fraction of the price, AND I won't wake up the next morning feeling like crap from the killer hangover and Taco Bell I picked up on the way home.  My body could handle whatever abuse I threw at it five years ago; now, I pay a much steeper price for what are becoming diminishing rewards.

Instead of going to the club, I want to do things that create more meaningful and lasting relationships with people.  When you're young, it's about being seen, having fun, impressing others.  Now, in my 30s, it's about making lasting lifelong connections.  I recently went to my beau's mother's 60th birthday party and was just so amazed at how many people she had in her life that cared about her that came to her celebration.  Later I was talking to her about that and she said most of those people came into her life in the past 20 years after her husband passed away, all from the organizations she belonged to and the activities she did and the help and support people gave her helping to raise her 5 kids.  That made me feel a little better because I was starting to worry that I would end up alone and friendless, as I have been going out less and thus spending less time with friends with whom all we really have in common is going out.  I'm relieved that I still have time to build a meaningful life surrounded by people who truly care about me.

Am I saying I'm done with going out?  No, not at all.  I still like to dress up, dance, socialize and engage in tomfoolery every once in awhile (and still more often than your average homebody).  And I still turn plenty of heads when I do go to the club.  But I want to start having fun my way, not try to replicate what I did at 22, or even 27 (I had a lot of fun at 27).  The same club every single weekend is just no longer my thing. I want to go to more events like festivals, picnics, performances, shows, and trips, activities where I can really connect with people instead of shouting over blaring music and scantily clad drunk girls.  I don't think being 32 in the club in and of itself is a bad thing.  It's trying to live life like I'm not 32 that is.

The (In)significance of Girlfriends

(This is follow up to the previous post, All's Fair in Love and War. I suggest you read it. Thanks.)

Up until about a year and a half ago, it had been a LONG time since I'd held the title of "girlfriend".  Even before holding the title of "wife" for about 9 years, I was "fiance" for a year and a half, and "baby momma" for 5.  Not since I was 15 have I held the title of just "girlfriend"......until now.  I'm sure for most women the status of girlfriend is the norm and utterly commonplace, so I'm sure you have no clue why this makes any bit of difference such that it warrants a blog post (then again, many things written about in blogs don't deserve a blog post).  Patience...... let me explain.

Girlfriends (and boyfriends, too), at first glance, are afforded special status.  To gain that official title means that you play an important and intimate role in someone's life.  However, in reality..... you're one step above nobody.  Here today, gone tomorrow, and nobody (with the exception of a few) hears from or thinks about you ever again.  At best, you become "Who was that chick you messed with a few years ago??  The one with the old kids?", and hopefully not "Man, what was that crazy bitch's name you finally got rid of??"  Girlfriends are some of the most transient, non-permanent individuals in a person's life.  And thus, they are treated as such.

This realization didn't fully hit home until my Son got his first official girlfriend.  She's a nice girl, and so far I like her, but not-so-far in the back of my mind I know this is (hopefully) just a temporary thing in the grand scheme of life.  He's 16 years old, she's 17.  I don't care how much he or she thinks they may be "in love", I know there's a 99.9% chance they will break up eventually, most likely when she goes off to college in a year, if not sooner.  Knowing this (or believing this.... but what's really the difference?), I will be nice, kind, respectful toward their little relationship, but I have no plans on making her an integral part of my family.

(Notice I used the word "little".  I find myself using that a lot in reference to their relationship.  I always refer to her as "Q's little girlfriend" though I am constantly reminded by my own beau that she's not "little" and is very much built like a grown ass woman...... the adjective is not used in the literal sense.  But I digress.)

If you're thinking "Well yes, they are kids, of course you wouldn't think of her like that" then let me change the scenario.  I remember once sitting in my friend's basement talking to his then girlfriend (in her mind at least) and she was going on and on about plans to take trips and what they were going to do next year and we should all plan to do XYZ, blah, blah, blah.  I listened, smiled and nodded, gave the occasional "Oh that would be nice" but the whole time in the back of my mind I'm thinking "Chick, you ain't gonna last through the summer."  And I was right, because what I knew that she didn't was that he was a serial monogamist and I'd seen many like her come and go (and then try to hem me up in the club asking why he went).  So while she thought/hoped/wished/fantasized/delusionally believed she was The One, I knew otherwise, so I saw no need to get myself to attached to the idea of her being around.

So, this has me thinking about my own status as "girlfriend" and wondering how I am different from the females mentioned above, and so far I can't think of any reason why I'm not.  Yes, in my reality and his reality I am a very important individual (and vice versa).  But for everyone else around him who has seen girlfriends come and go, at this point in time they have no reason to take me seriously.  In the eyes of the permanent individuals in his life, I'm the current lady friend who sits in the same position as the past lady friend; the next girl who may just as easily become the ex girl.

The implications of this are twofold.  First is not being taken seriously by family, for the reasons stated above.  But second, and more vexing, is the disrespect and toe stepping by "friends".  Now, when my male friends get a new lady friend, I go out of my way to show that I come in peace and try not to make any sudden, threatening moves.  I think, however, that I am in the minority.  In reality, there is the attitude of "Bitch I was here before you, I will be here after you, and who are you to tell me how I can and cannot deal with MY friend" accompanied by that passive aggressiveness that females have gotten down to a science AND and art that's really not about the guy, but more about whatever the female equivalent of a pissing contest would be.  And honestly, unfortunately..... I can't really argue with the logic.  But logic isn't everything and it still pisses me off.  Add on top of this the notion that all's fair in love and war, and as merely the girlfriend I'm a sitting duck for toe stepping, sneak attacks, tomfoolery, and all sorts of other females' reindeer games.

(Do I sound paranoid?? Sorry......there was an incident.)

The reality is until there is some next level of commitment made, whether intentional (engagement/marriage) or unintentional (baby momma), the status of girlfriend means very little to the outside world.  Sometimes it almost feels like a joke, like I'm just waiting for someone actually to cock their head to side, pat me on the head and say "Oh, that's so cute."  I can almost hear the mental speculation as to whether I'll be the one back next year at the company picnic, or a guest at the next wedding, or at the next family function.....

With all that said, none of this really matters.  All that matters is how he and I feel about each other and the level of mutual respect we show one another.  You must walk before you can run, and walking the role of girlfriend is just one of those normal, everyday life things.  Just another one of my observations from my odd vantage point of being a girlfriend for the first time in my adult life, that's all.

All's Fair in Love and War

Maybe she wasn't such a cootie queen after all.

History is always told from the perspective of the winner, not as it actually went down.  Our history books are all written in such a way that applauds the actions of the ones in control and condemns those of the loser.  This is simply one of the spoils of war; the winners get to tell the story the way they want it to be told, and very few actually question it.  This is not only the case in our civilization's history, but love as well. 

Some time last year a good friend of mine was telling me about a new guy she was kickin' it with.  He was a musician, handsome, sexy, and despite the fact that he was staying with her (temporarily til he found another place, supposedly), he had a girlfriend.  I told her run for your life, he's playing you as live-in booty while he plans a life with this chick, you're gonna get your feelings hurt.

Well, last week they got engaged.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to people who are in pre-marriage relationships:  One is that these people are in committed relationships and their relationship should be respected and left alone, and anyone who tries to interfere is just foul and dead wrong.  The other, which was best summed up by my mentor who was a notorious flirt, is "You're single until you're married."  In the Infinite Wisdom of my 20's (and by "Infinite Wisdom" I mean "I thought I had shit figured out and then I actually lived life and was proven terribly wrong") I was of the school of thought that the latter attitude was just awful and an excuse to sleep around for as long as possible.  And even still today I get irritated when someone persists in trying to holla even after I inform them that I have a boyfriend.  But my friend's good news got me thinking about whether this issue is as black and white, right vs. wrong, as I originally thought.

Take my friend as example.  When she first started "dating" her now fiance, 9 out of 10 disinterested women polled on the street would probably tell you she was being a scandalous scallywag for messing with someone else's man.  Now in hindsight though, I would merely have to say "She won."  The ultimate purpose of dating (for most people) is to find someone to build a life with, ideally to marry.  But the fact is that many people are in lackluster, half hearted relationships that they are holding onto for whatever reason, maybe because it's not bad but not really fantastic, or out of habit, or because that's what they think they want, or whatever.  If someone else comes along that is a better match, should they bypass it because of some sense of obligation to the lackluster relationship, or go forward and pursue greater happiness?  Should the interloper walk away from someone showing interest in them because that person is supposedly in a relationship which the interloper has no knowledge of its depth or complexity?

Let's take another example: my very own sister.  She dated a guy from high school for over 5 years, but then her junior or senior year of college she had another guy incessantly in her ear, calling her all the time over the summer, not really caring at all that she had a boyfriend.  That other guy is now my brother-in-law, they have 2 beautiful boys and a wonderful life together.  Had he abided by the "rules" and left my sister alone out of "respect" for her relationship with a guy who honestly was slipping, my sister would not have the life she has today.  My brother-in-law presented himself as the better option, plain and simple.  He won.

I'm not saying that anyone who is not married is 100% fair game and that the follow up question to "Yes, I'm seeing someone" should always be "But are you happy?" because really, that just comes off as rude and disrespectful.  I'm just making the observation that when it comes to love and dating, history rewrites itself such that seemingly questionable behavior all the sudden becomes justified and endearing.  I would be willing to bet that a great number of "how we met" stories involve the scenario "he/she was dating someone already, but I really wanted to get to know him/her" or some other reason why the situation wasn't exactly ideal at the time.  During none of the umpteen times your dad tells the story of how he met your mother do you think "Man, what an asshole", but rather "Wow, he really, really wanted to get with mom."  After the fact we applaud the persistence, the determination, the romanticism, and the poor ex ("Ole Whats-His-Name") just becomes a forgotten casualty of love.

So I guess I do have to agree that, in the grand scheme of life, you really are single until you're married, not in the sense that you can willy nilly do whatever you want in a relationship and use that as a defense (try saying "It wasn't wrong because we're not married" to your boo and see what happens.... you won't be in that particular relationship much longer), but rather there are no guarantees until you say "I do".  Married people are definitely off limits, and at that point you merely become a homewrecker.  But for everyone else, relationships come and go and the reality is that there aren't always clean breaks in between them.  In the end, when it's all said and done, the only person who matters is the one who won.

All is fair in love and war, loved ones..... and the victor gets to rewrite history.

*Disclaimer: Idiosyncratic Thoughts will not be held responsible for any head busting or beat downs you may catch going after someone else's (wo)man. Please proceed with caution.