Showing Weakness

This is what sunset looks like when there’s fog on the beach. You can’t see the actual sunset, just the rosy orange evidence of it.

Now I’m in Philadelphia for a few days. The buildings are pretty. I imagine pictures of them will be forthcoming.

It’s always interesting to me to be on the east coast, especially down around the D.C. area. At least I notice it more there than in cities like Philadelphia. The competitiveness. Most of it from the white men.

I know, I know. I’m not supposed to say stuff like that.

But it’s like they’re all still shooting for herd buck. They talk about power. They play little mind games of withholding information and discuss retirement salaries like they’re analogous to another, more intimate masculine part. When I wonder about D.C. politics, I should remember these men, for whom the stock market is everything and their personal wealth takes precedence.

On Saturday, I took a walk on the beach after lunch. The fog kept everything soft and shimmery grey. I wore a sundress and walked barefooted in the surf, carrying my sandals. As I climbed the steps to the hotel deck, a woman bundled up in sweatshirts, with a little dog on her lap, asked me how it was out there, if it was cold.

I said no, It’s warm. It’s lovely. And I laughed, for the loveliness of it all.

And the guy next to her nodded and said, Yeah, see? That’s why I make sure never to laugh.

I realized he meant that I’d blown my lie by laughing. I contemplated the levels of that as I walked up to my room. That he thought I’d want to lie about such a thing. That laughter is a sign of weakness. And that he thinks about these things, even sitting on a hotel deck watching the surf, that you must govern your responses, in order to win interactions between people.

It exhausts me to contemplate it, frankly.

It would be interesting though, to have a character who makes sure never to laugh, who thinks this way.

Who loses all his money and ends up working as a clown in a three-penny circus.

Bwah ha ha ha ha!

11 Replies to “Showing Weakness”

  1. Powerful commentary–awesome tone with your words, Jeffe. And, yes, I’d have to agree. They don’t quite pull out the rulers, but you know they’re thinking about it.

    You need to write this hero. Someone so tied up in the rules, imaginary or not. Only… don’t make him lose his money. Make him fall in love with a heroine who is real and open and embraces life however it comes.

    Because I’m such a sucker for love, I even want the men living that half life to find a HEA. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. You are so right, Vivian. Falling in love is another kind of awakening, isn’t it? The challenge would be to make him interesting enough for the heroine to stick with him until he stops being such an ass. Marriage of convenience, perhaps?

  2. I’m guessing you had some unidentifiable mass of food stuck between your teeth and deck-boy was just mortified for you.

    Still, never laughing? Really? That’s too heavy a price to pay, regardless of what you are afraid of exposing.

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing this character! I’m quite sure I’ve met him before IRL. But I will be very curious to see what kinds of adventures you have cooked up for him!

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