Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Beware of Rant: Pre-Beginnerism and Sexism Are Alive and Well

Good evening folks.  It's getting late and I already know what tomorrow looks like, so I'm getting a head start.  By 8 a.m., I'll be running Sinatra across the world to see Doc for his annual cardio ultrasound and a tooth extraction.

I love my Ragdoll cat, but he's starting to seem a lot like a horse--buying him was the cheap part...and friends, he wasn't cheap. In fact, in this economy, I could have a horse or maybe two for what Sinatra cost me.  Sinatra has a heart murmur that needs to be monitored annually so we know if the valve is further deteriorating.  Heart problems are part and parcel in Ragdoll cats.  In my experience, so are dental problems.  If you're buying a Ragdoll, yeah, they are relaxed and adorable, but that's because they know you'll pick-up their healthcare costs.  Buddy, they'll leave you hoping Obamacare covers them, too! Seriously.

But, let me get back to the end of the day today.  The doctoral student got sick, so he'll come pick-up his poop later.  No problem. We got poop galore here.  Now many pounds of waste does the average horse produce a day?  I told you.  Who has been reading?  Anyone? Anyone?

Then, I returned calls from the afternoon voice mails.  Of course, there was a pre-beginner on the horizon.  I returned the mom's call and the pre-beginnerism started the moment she picked-up.

She'd like her daughter to try riding lessons.  She's quit everything else she's tried, but that was sports.  I broke in, "Ma'am, horseback riding is a sport, too, it's just your equipment isn't a ball, it's the horse." Oh...blah...blah...blah...she knew it would be different this time because her daughter loves horses.  "Has she ever been on a horse, ma'am?"  Well, a pony once...being led around.  The daughter is 11.  But, she loves horses.  I know she'll be a success.  She'll be able to be proud of herself.  Do you give certificates?  "Yes, after 100 lessons I give a certificate." Oh, well..."Yes, ma'am, I have students who've been with me over 100 lessons.  I give a tee shirt or a hat or some other treat every 10 lessons, but yes, she has to wait till 100 to get a certificate."  Ok, well, I'll make her a certificate myself.

At this point, I knew to just shut-up.  She didn't ask to make an appointment.  She didn't say she'd be right over with a check.  She'd call back in a few weeks.  Um hm.  Ok.  Look forward to it. The lady was just talking.  I'm learning.  I maybe slow, but I'm learning.  It took every ounce of control I had not to say, "Lady, how are you going to award your kid a certificate for something I'm teaching of which you already say you know nothing? Huh? Tell me lady?  Isn't this like issuing your kid the Nobel Peace Prize when she managed to wash the dog by herself?"  I didn't say it, though.  I just thought it.  I promise.

Her kid drops out of everything, the mom told me herself very plainly--she wasn't even ashamed to say it.  She can't be proud of herself without a certificate her mom makes her as an award for a sport of which she knows nothing.  Lord help me.

If this is the generation that's going to be in charge when I'm very elderly, I need a self-sufficient pod into which I may crawl when I'm 100. Yes, my greatgrandmother lived to be 111 and died in her own bed of no major illness.  So, this is a valid concern that a kid who is a total quitter whose mom makes her a "You're a Success" award anyway may be in charge of my well being eventually.  Geez!

Ok, Cowgirl Domino, breathe deeply.  Take a moment to remember when you were a pre-beginner at age 2 1/2 or something.  Breathe deeply.  Of course the Velvet Hammer wouldn't have issued her own award to you for your riding failure, but come on, she was a toughie.  And, if the lady and her quitter kid show-up, it's money.  Don't forget that.  Breathe, damn it!  Breathe!  You were a pre-beginner once, too.

I just really hope my mother never made a call like that.  I seriously doubt she did.  But, folks, I have more than one of these calls a day.  So, you think this is a fun job?  It's a good thing I have a background in politics so I can spin with the best of them. can prevent it by admitting you and your kid know nothing of horses but you'd like to learn.  That's all it takes to make me take you seriously.  Know what you do not know and admit it.  It's a powerful state of mind that's very impressive in this day and age.

Now, on to another thrill a minute for me...sexism in the 21st Century!  Yes, it still exists.  Now, come down out of your Ivory Towers when you say, "Oh well, maybe in the South or the Mid-West it still exists but not in California or New York."  Yeah, baby, yeah.  I'll burst that bubble for you, too.

Tomorrow Bart is meeting with me and the folks who installed my new furnace.  It's actually a gas pack but I'm too used to saying "furnace."  This company has attended to my heat and air needs for 20 years, yet their installer took sexism to an old level.  This guy was telling me how I didn't understand.  Dude, I speak English.  I understand perfectly what you're saying and a bunch of it is horse hockey.

Bart was the bearer of bad news, and thankfully he broke it to me gently,  "Babe, I think he doesn't take you seriously because you're a woman."  No, Bart, really?  I was very young and blond and cute in yeah, I've had that experience more than once.

It didn't matter if I had a hundred IQ points on them, I didn't have the right plumbing for those kinds of guys to take me seriously.  It's amazing what a little extra pipe in the plumbing area does for your IQ.  Seriously, fellas, more testosterone doesn't equal more IQ points. Wake-up....hello...anyone home in there?

Don't worry, between Elaine and the Velvet Hammer, I always win in the end with those guys.  All the same, Bart is going to talk testosterone with them tomorrow and get a few loose ends tied-up on my gas pack.  Go Bart go!  Tell 'em I'm sexy on my tractor while you're at it.

Now, you think that sexism only exists in the last bastions of middle classism in the US?  Haha!  The Velvet Hammer, aka my mother, used to go with her business partners to Wall Street looking for venture capitalists (look it up) to hand over more cash to buy another company to fold into their successful business. The Velvet Hammer was the only woman amongst her three male partners.  No matter, it's a new day, there'll be women on Wall Street. No, the only women in the room, besides the Hammer herself during their deals, were the secretaries.  It always stunned the Velvet Hammer.

The Velvet Hammer had come of age professionally before the Women's Movement.  She actually worked at a time when women could be forbidden to wear pants to work.  She's worn pantsuits since the day the US Supreme Court said employers could no longer require women to wear dresses as part of Title IX.  Again, look it up.  If you're a woman in the US, you better be sure to look it up.  Life hasn't always been this close to equal.

For me, I was lucky to not only grow-up with a very successful, educated and professional mother--plus a grandmother who earned a college degree in the 1920s--my father is equally progressive.  No way! My dad was not a Mr. Mom.  My dad made his bones in international business before anyone called it that.  His team was so high powered three of them were in the same cardiac intensive care unit at the same time in the late '70s--dad who was the HR director, the president of the company and another department head.  They were very successful but just a tad high stress.

My dad, did this guy want a woman waiting on him at home with dinner and his slippers? No way.  He loves my mother's mind and her successes.  He never considered it an option that she was not his equal.  He never considered it possible that I would not be every man's equal, either.  He personally lobbied state legislators when it came time for the states to ratify the ERA--the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.  They never did.

That's right, the US  never got enough states to vote to ratify the ERA.  So, women do not have any mention of their equality in the US Constitution. It has since largely been established by case law...but no one told that HVAC guy at my house.  I guess Bart is going to have to do the courts' dirty work for them tomorrow.  Uh oh! 

Now, go and have a good Thursday. Maybe you learned something new today, too?  At least remember you'll get a lot more respect admitting what you don't know and asking to learn.  Do that, will ya? Help prevent Pre-Beginnerism?  Please?  Just for me?  I'm not even asking you to address sexism...I'll save that for another day.

Thanks for reading! You're the best!

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