This week I spent a workday at a conference for women leaders. They fed us twice and also gave us wine and goodie bags – and I don’t mean crap, I mean free makeup. We’re going to sort of blow by the fact that never in my previous 16-year-long career would anything like this ever have been encouraged, let alone funded at employer expense, and move straight on to how I pissed myself off.
So I go to this conference, at the invitation of my boss, who’s awesome, and along with several other women from the office. Lovely. We’re all divvied up so nobody is sitting at a table with anyone else from their respective organization/office. Fine. Except I realize very soon after I sit down that I’m judging. Not only am I judging the other women; I’m judging myself in comparison to them. This apparently NEVER ends in life. There was one woman at my table who I hated within two minutes of sitting down, even though she had not yet so much as moved by that point. Otherwise I was looking at clothes and jewelry and feeling frumpy (my wardrobe choice was sub-par even by my own standards) and cheap (said wardrobe came partially from Target – handed up from my sister – and my accessories were plastic).
The first problem, if I’m being honest, was location. The host site was very near Jack’s place. I generally try to avoid that whole area now because it’s an old haunt for me, and his ghost (and corporal being, as far as I know) is there. Gag. So already that’s in my subconscious. Like, as I was driving, I quietly thought that if I saw him running down the road, I might run him over. You know. Accidentally.
In addition, there were two women at my table (of eight) who were engaged and talking weddings. During the first discussion session right before lunch, the discussion leader (a fellow academic admin employee, but from another school) commented to the chick I hated that her being from a tiny town in Montana must have made it hard to find a future husband. WTF. Is that really what we’re talking about here? Wedding plans and lack of potential for mates in freaking high school? At a women’s leadership conference? Have we not evolved AT ALL?
From time to time, I was checking various things via my phone, as were all attendees. At one point I posted something to my Twitter page, which I only use for work-related stuff. While there, I quickly scrolled through the tweets from people I follow to see if anyone else was discussing the event, or anything related to where I work. Somehow, Jack showed up in the list. I don’t follow him; he must have referenced someone I do follow – I didn’t read his tweet, just scrolled quickly past when I saw his face and wondered how he got there. Then I wondered if I could block him from ever showing up again.
However, in my defense, I feel my instincts about the chick I hated were correct. To wit:
1. She was wearing a knit dress with horizontal stripes and didn’t look fat, so I’m pretty sure she was showing off.
2. She emptied the table’s water pitcher so as to fill her own Nalgene bottle from its empty status.
4. During a presentation by a major player at a Fortune 100 company, she loudly demanded that he show the full Old Spice buff guy commercial instead of just the photo, and then muttered that one of their upcoming ad campaigns “sounds dumb.”
5. When the host started playing a Shakira song and told the room to close our eyes and dance like no one was watching, she did. Unabashedly. Mostly with her ass.
6. She chewed with her mouth open.
7. She reminded me slightly of Gwyneth. In that she was blonde with blue eyes and young.
8. She rolled her eyes a lot.
9. She laughed loudly at weird times.
So I’m completely justified, yes?
It’s frustrating, you know? Ironically, during the wrap-up, as moderators were working their way around the room asking representatives from each table to share what had been discussed between tablemates, my boss stood up and said that they’d talked about how nasty women are to other women. Yet another demonstration of how like-minded my boss and I are: I’ve been saying that for years – that women are who get in the way of women now. Yet I had spent the day judging, hating and feeling emo. And wondering whether any other women were doing the same thing.
I have to believe they were.
Because I’m crazy, but I’m not the only one.
I got a lot out of the conference, actually. Besides the psychological un-fun-ness of being in Jack’s neighborhood sitting at a table with a woman who reminded me of Gwyneth while listening to two other women talk about weddings and seeing Jack pop up randomly in my Twitter feed.
That was just a bonus.