(A wrinkle-free ME in 1974…a true Chick Magnet!)

Yesterday I received a FACEBOOK friend request from M, a former school classmate of mine from Glendale Secondary in Hamilton, Ontario.

I immediately went and checked my 1974 high school year book to see if the new friend was who I envisioned. She was.

(Pet Peeve Time…I hate that I can’t identify or locate my female friends from years gone by because they now have a married name. Can we stop mucking with peoples’ identities?). 

I began reading through the little written blurbs accompanying the photo of each of my graduating classmates, telling of their pet peeves and aspirations for life. My blurb really sucked. It said absolutely nothing meaningful about me…which, when I think about it, maybe best summed up who I was at the time. I was chubby and pimply, and truly HAD little meaningful to say! Precious stuff, that! But I digress…

My new “friend” M (who, BTW, was much cuter than I was handsome… I wasn’t in her league), along with most of the girls from my graduating cohort, wanted to be a stewardess or a secretary… and a Mom. What young lady wouldn’t want to be paid to serve a man- whether on an airplane or in an office, Mad Men-style–  until Mr. Right comes along and puts a ring on it? Both fine occupations while waiting to obtain their MRS. degrees… but neither holds a financial candle or esteem-building heft approaching that of a “man”‘s career.

Girls were 2nd class citizens waiting for a man to make them whole!

This reminded me of the old teaser question from my youth: 

A boy is brought to the hospital ER needing emergency surgery after a horrific car crash. His father was badly hurt in the accident as well. When the boy is rolled into the OR for the operation, the surgeon ambles to his bedside and says, “I can’t operate on this boy, he’s MY SON”.

Whoa…the big perplexing question posed here is…how is this possible?

The answer is EASY, the surgeon is the boy’s Mommy.  Surprise!!

AND WE WERE surprised…In those days…

Today, this scenario doesn’t raise an eyebrow, which is as it should be.

Imagine, the youngster’s mother was neither a stewardess nor a secretary- she was a high-powered surgeon, a man’s lofty profession. There’s nothing wrong with these career choices from an earlier era but if I envision the almost inevitable future single Mom (or newly “Gay Mom“) with these jobs, I don’t see a solid financial future. I abhor that too many girls have raised their kids alone and on minimum wage pay.

But things change. There are now more young women enrolled in medicine, law, education administration, and accounting across North America than men – but not yet engineering. In today’s world, the bigger problem for both young men and women seems not a shortage of career choices but a surfeit…how does one narrow down the selection and actually come to a decision?

If I read the yearbook of today’s young graduate, how many of the girls’ blurbs would demonstrate a burning desire to be a secretary or flight attendant (the least I can do is update the jargon from “stewardess”)?

I was reading another blog (Analyfe) the other day that contained this quote from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

And like Sylvia Plath’s figs, many of today’s young women and men struggle with the fateful decision of which occupational road to choose. They go to university, or take year or two out of school, not knowing or able to decide a direction to follow…frozen like deer in the headlights.

The huge Wal Mart-esque academic shelves are filled to overflowing with possibility and they can’t decide.

And so I have some thoughts to pass on to the girls of today.

  • Don’t be Afraid to Decide– as Nike ads state, “Just Do It”. We all make bad choices, but a bad decision is better than no decision at all. Career choices can be changed 5 times or more in today’s world.
  • Don’t Look For a Man To Save You– we men have shown in recent years that we don’t have the balls to support ourselves, much less you and our kids (Man-BOYS). Love us but don’t be dependent on us.
  • Dream Big, Work Hard– realize that you probably have more potential than you give yourself credit for. Persevere, be tenacious, and make yourself proud.

The ending to this story is that my Facebook friend M didn’t become a stewardess… sorry, flight attendant, after all. She made a career selection that allows her to use her creative strengths and shows that she can be a determined supporter for herself.

Finally young ladies, I’d like to say, be better than me…hell…it’s just not that hard!