Tuesday was quite possibly the worst Tuesday in the history of Tuesdays. It was my last day of work for six days and you’d think that all productivity in softwareland was going to come to crumbling halt in my absence. I was busy and stretched to my limit. So when one of the techwriters moseyed over to my cube and began screaming at me about the unfairness of my impending vacation and how she was supposed to be on vacation right this very minute, well it was everything I could do not to break down in tears.
Instead, I went into a room with Sonja the Wondergeek and had lunch. I told her about the techwriter’s screaming fit and how goddamn angry it made me.
“Do you think Virginia will ever come back,” she asked, referring to a techwriter who had left softwareland about a year ago, a techwriter who was my friend and whom I adored.
“No way,” I said, “Why would she? She’s got the baby and a hubby who makes gobs of money and enough interests to keep her busy.”
“Yeah,” she agreed as we went back to eating our sammiches.
After a few mouthfuls she turned to me.
“Do you have a rescue fantasy?”
“You know, have a fantasy that some man will come along and rescue you from this working life. A fantasy that this is just what you’ll do until you get married.”
“Oh god no,” I said. “I have rescuer fantasies.”
“Sure. I have a thing for those damaged artist types.”
“I never pictured you as being so controlling.”
“It’s not about control,” I said. “It’s about being with someone who has more to do than work as a corporate drone. I figure I’ve got it good, and I’m pretty good at this. In a few years I’ll make more than enough for two. So, whomever I end up with can do something more. Whether it’s painting or singing or counting ducks in a marsh or something. You know? Maybe he’ll just want to stay home and raise babies and do dishes. I always wanted a house husband.”
“I can see that.”
“I figure he can do his thing and not get paid very much and I can make enough for us.”
“Good,” she said. “I just hate that women have that fall back. You know, so many of them think that if this career thing doesn’t work out they’ll just get married and that will be that they’ll just go be a mom and a wife and this was all just something to do to bide their time until they found a husband.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I think I’m a little beyond that point.”
“Maybe women are different now,” she said. “But when I went to college there were a lot of girls there who were just looking for a husband.”
“Oh, that hadn’t changed by the time I went to college. There were plenty of girls who were just looking for the MRS degree. It drove me nuts. I wrote a column about it in the paper, I was really quite unpopular with a majority of women on campus for a long, long time. Railing against marriage and the need to get married so young wasn’t a popular viewpoint and that was in like 1994!”
“It really surprises me,” she said. “I just figured that you have a thing for older men and you want to be a writer that you’d find someone to marry you and then go write books and have babies.”
“Yeah, well, it’s hard to have babies and write books,” I said.
The conversation was great and it made me think about how far I’ve come. In my twenties, I spent a lot of time cultivating that self-destructive, need someone to rescue me from myself facade. Somehow I had decided that’s what men wanted, someone to rescue. I had also decided that if they rescued me from me, they’d love me. I learned the hard way, that’s not so true.
Around 28, I got sick of waiting for the white knight. I realized the only person who could rescue me, was me. So that’s what I did. I rescued myself. And now, I guess, I’m just looking for someone who wants to make me laugh. . . and do the dishes.