Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Pleasure of being a Woman

I remember there used to be this ad of Gujarat Sarees which had this tag-line- 'the pleasure of being a woman'.
Being a kid back then i failed to realize that an aspiring social worker was not supposed to feel good about this, or be taken in by this blatant duping of pleased women! i should have thought of ways of getting back at scheming men and of exposing their patronizing chauvinism...

But, trust me, I have found something that the most stringent, staunch feminists can not argue with!

Just imagine your little brother or sister, and unless you are a Femina-mom (they won't be seen dead in a saree- always in some smart invincible skirt or trousers), your kid, leaving two of your best sarees with the wrong dry-cleaners'! And it's somebody you know! But your woman's intuition tells you not to be at the receiving end of laundry services provided by them.
No smart woman would even think of explaining this colossal blunder and get her sarees back- not even if the Dry Cleaner was a man!
And here the DC is definitely a woman.
A Woman of Substance, at that.
It isn't that on your own you can't get them back, it's just that you wouldn't even think of asking for'em- those thirty seconds of embarassing explanation would clean strip you of ten years' worth of smug superiority and self respect.

It's one of those moments where you are tempted to behave like a friend of mine once did- driving fast along the highway one night she was caught unawares by a rather clumsy and rude pothole. She simply took her hands off the handle bar, clamped her eyes shut with them, and...jumped.
Just like that- couldn't even look at it, let alone try and get the better of it.

And now, when it's actually happening to me i can understand why seeing my mom extricating herself from a similar spot years ago had opened my eyes. And had made me profoundly glad i'd a boy friend who would one day, with the same loyalty and blind love that my dad had once shown, undertake to pull off this feat for his lady love. And bless him- my erstwhile boyfriend and subsequent husband is prone to fits of severe political correctness - he'd do it more easily than even my dad could ever manage.
Can you imagine looking the lady dry cleaner (LDC) in the eye and telling her you don't believe in her magical dry cleaning powers? It's every bit as bad as having to tell the attendant at a super market you simply can't find your favorite brand of bath-freshener there! Not in his weakest moments would he entertain the sinful thought that they may actually not stock the brand. For godssake! supermarkets!!- they stock every brand of everything. Period.
So if you can't find it you should probably start buying your glasses there too.

But get a boy friend, partner, husband- and you've the perfect solution.
Only if you ask me, in this matter of confronting the LDC, boy friends and live-in partners don't have a thing on husbands!
Only a confirmed, dedicated, decade-old, i've-been-through-the-worst kind of husband can produce a look that's both sheepish and authoritative enough at the same time to get a hardened dry-cleaner to surrender sarees that are rightfully hers to dry clean.
A boy friend or a partner just doesn't have what it takes- there's still that aura of freedom, that air of never having been nagged, that i-don't-have-a-mom-in-law sort of gait...that just won't melt a proud husband-owner's kind heart.

When my dad had come home with the cherished sarees rescued, a look of mutual understanding had passed between my mom and me. And what my dad might have taken to be tears of gratitude or happiness, were tears of pure unadulterated relief.
After all, it'd cost my friend no less than a plastic surgery and a month in the hospital to get back into working order!

And we have every reason to be relieved, don't we?
After all, we don't have to be able to put the fear of God into a mere dry cleaner- we simply have to be able to charm politically correct men into marrying us.
Now, that's what I call The Pleasure of being a Woman.

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