Today is Women’s Day. I feel honoured, on behalf of my sex, to have one day in a year kept aside to celebrate us along with other days such as World Epilepsy Day, World Hemorrhoids Day and World Tobacco Day. The tokenism of such a day is moving beyond words and it was with a hand trembling with emotion that I keyed in a text message to a socialite acquaintance, whose Women’s Day lunch I had no intention of attending.
Ladies lunches are and will remain one of the abiding mysteries of my life. As much as I admire women who partake in a room throbbing with their own sex, I find the idea of being in a room full of women most terrifying.
I love my girlfriends and catching up with them over a meal, but the prospect of being at a lunch with a gaggle of girls, gives me the kind of heebie jeebies that I usually reserve for dental appointments. In hindsight, it could be because I suffer from an acute inability to speak in both the situations. Although, I am not known to be a woman of few words, I never know what to say to anybody during such lunches. It is almost like my vocal cords go into rigor mortis as soon as I step into a room full of ladies.
As luck would have it, the lady hosting the lunch would not take no for an answer. “Please don’t tell me you are traveling or have come down with mumps this time. We all know these are your excuses,” my socialite pal told me over the phone. My bluff had been called and a mini depression with dark chocolate was my only refuge. Left with no choice, I reluctantly looked at the invite this morning.Women of substance, dress to rule were some of the phrases that my dying brain cells retained from the invite. As if in defiance, I showed up at the venue in a cotton shirt and jeans sans any make-up, halfheartedly.
It was with much trepidation and a fake benign expression that I walked into the grandiose room overflowing with birkins women in their glad rags. Undoubtedly, they were all women of substance, in keeping with the theme of this soiree’, but I needed to be on substance to get past this ocean of feminine energy. There was Yin everywhere ones eye could see, the only Yang being the Maitre’D and his team of servers. In my view, this was an ecological imbalance and I wasn’t programmed to survive occasions that defied nature.
But then, it was precisely for afternoons such as these, that champagne had been invented by a good monk named Noah Moses Dom Perignon. Reaching for a glass of the bubbly eagerly, I put on my happy face as I waded through swarms of stunning ladies dressed in glorious textures of taffeta, gossamer and satins. Blinding diamonds of varying caratage lit up the rooms along with the halogens. I tried not to feel smug in my cottons that screamed ‘proletariat’ from a mile. Working class or not, given that a certain Italian lady was ruling a population of billions in cottons, my own clothes weren’t entirely inappropriate to the theme.
As far as I could see, the majority of women present seemed to be confabbing with each other. Then why was it that I, who could make a conversation with an empty armchair, was unable to get beyond the ‘How are yous’ in this scenario? Like everyone else, I knew the template. You ask the person how they are and before they have told you how they really were, you quickly move to how much weight they have lost, then you wait a bit for them to deny it while they blame their pregnancies and point at body parts that still need trimming. You take your cue from here and immediately change the subject to their kids and even as they are telling you that their child had a bad fall and was lying in bed for a whole month with a plaster, you smile and say “that’s great” and move on to repeat the template all over again with the next person.
I am not sure the template I have is the same as everybody else’s or it has been specially designed for people who want to converse with me. Maybe it is a well-known fact that I am the key reason behind vapid conversations at ladies lunches and a special software is in place under my name.
By the time my lunch was halfway through 8 women had told me that I had lost weight, 3 had asked me how my sons were doing (I have daughters), 4 had asked me why I looked so bored and 4 had asked me to catch up over coffee with them (they did not mean it, and no I don’t have self-esteem issues). My jaws, in the meanwhile, were cramping from too much smiling and even though I was tempted to gulp down a little more champagne for moral courage, the thought of returning home to my kids in a drunken state at 4pm made me reconsider my need for the bubbly elixir.
When I finally returned home, enervated and in need of coffee, I could trace fine lines that had appeared around my mouth as a consequence of all the air kissing. Sinking into my couch I promised myself that I shall, henceforth, fight for women’s rights work on my lunch going skills. There must be some classes somewhere in this city that coach women in this area. LEARN TO BE A PRO AT A LADIES LUNCH IN TWO WEEKS.
Or perhaps a book HOW TO STRIKE UP CONVERSATIONS AT A LADIES LUNCH WITHOUT APPEARING DAFT. I am grateful to my sisters from the blogosphere who will use this day to lend their voice to real issues that confront the women of my country while I type this sad saga of a champagne lunch. Just think of me as a blip. Think of me as someone, who is in her own small way, is trying to uplift womankind by uplifting herself first.