a stoplight conversation

This feels like the right follow up for Sweet Talkin', while we're on the subject of men, women and the power of words. It's an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to some friends on July 1, 2011, just a few short weeks ago.

"This is gonna be FAST. Last night A Crazy Illinois Thing happened that you'll just get and laugh at with me. A Girl Thing.

Here's the story. Because I just need a friend to share it with, a woman who gets that when you're mother of two, and in my case pushing 40, this sort of thing just doesn't happen anymore…

I went to Uptown Normal because I'm going to paint on The Pod wall as part of the Community Mural. They are opening in a week along with Sugar Creek Art Festival across the street from the Children's Museum by the roundabout. I picked up my paint last night, so I could get an early start on Saturday before it gets too hot as the day wears on.

Anyway, on my way home from The Pod, getting close to 9pm, I was stopped at the stop light of Vernon and Veterans in my '98 Corolla and this happens…

A black pick up truck, the kind with an extended cab, and at least four guys pulled up next to me. They were honking and yelling for me to roll my window down. I was on the phone but I did. Curiosity I suppose. Maybe I knew them or my lights weren't on or something else urgent that I wasn't aware of. Then next thing I knew, they were inviting me to meet them at Gill Street and they'd buy me a beer. I smiled at 'em, shook my head "no", rolled my window back up and kept talking to my friend about painting my part of the mural on The Pod wall. She'd overheard the commotion of my overlapping conversation and asked, "What is going on?" So I told her, with a You Won't Believe This laugh in my voice.

Even though I didn't want to go to the bar for that beer, it just felt good that they were flagging me down. I didn't have any makeup on, my hair was pulled back on top of my head in a rubber band and I was wearing old denim shorts and a Minnesota vacation t-shirt from 100 years ago – a pine green one – that's a paintin' shirt now. I wasn't even wearing shades because dark was falling. I told my husband about it when I came home. I walked in grinnin' too. Just needed that Pick Me Up even though I didn't want anything to do with it. I know you hear me how I mean it."

One of my good friends replied she'd like to find those guys and buy them a beer for putting a smile on my face. She'd do it too. A longtime friend replied with an uproariously funny story about a similar experience she had as a 20-something woman, when she was very pregnant with her son, who will be a senior in high school this fall. My big city friend agreed that the stoplight Pick Up In A Pick Up was An Illinois Thing, but said she still gets occasional praise for her looks as she walks down the street. She concurred the attention does made you feel good, even if as Modern Women we're supposed to be above such things. Then she added, "Since we are getting old after all." Well, there is THAT. To put this story in proper context, I should add this was the night before my husband had an ultrasound and biopsy done on his liver to determine whether or not his cancer had spread there from the colon. While we couldn't change whatever the doctors were going to find the next day, the air in the house was still solemn and a bit tense. Thankfully our two boys were spending the night with their grandparents and Ferris Bueller's Day Off was on television. We watched this "classic" 80's movie in companionable silence and occasional laughter for awhile, just us and the cat in our cozy family room, with that early morning appointment looming. That was exactly where I wanted to spend the evening too. Home. Together.

"Sweet Talkin'"
http://my.opera.com/jbaird/blog/2011/07/19/sweet-talkin

"I painted a prayer" is a poem about the picture I painted on The Pod's wall in Normal, IL on July 2, 2011.
http://my.opera.com/jbaird/blog/2011/07/03/i-painted-a-prayer

© 2011 Janean Baird Turquoise Tangles

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14 thoughts on “a stoplight conversation

  1. Lotus Blu Mama writes:Great post, it made me laugh! And of course you got hit on, those boys knew what they were looking at. I know when we get caught up in all the craziness of life and revolve our lives around our kids and husbands, we actually are a woman who not only need to feel appreciated, but beautiful and sexy as well. So when we are reminded that others (men) still find us attractive, it's an amazing feeling, isn't it? Good for you Janean!!

  2. Thanks, Lotus Blu Mama! Yes. I SO NEEDED that Pick Me Up, from the attempted Pick Up In A Pick Up in that fleeting moment at the stoplight. Just wait until you hear about what happened a few days later…I'm writing it now. Then I'm done talking about looks and catcalls for awhile. Probably A Long While. It just feels right to share these three vignettes together. In a trilogy of sorts. George Lucas Style. Sans droids, space ships, Jedi, Clone/Storm Troopers, princesses and wookies. Love, Janean

  3. She concurred the attention does made you feel good, even if as Modern Women we're supposed to be above such things.

    :no::no: No! You're wrong. Modern women 30 years ago were supposed to be above all that, but nowadays you're allowed to again to desire feeling pretty; and appreciate the fact when someone shows that they think you are… The only thing that changed is that men are allowed that desire too. The last time that was the case was, say, 10000 years ago. :DSince then the only role we've been allowed is that of rudely interested party. :p :whistle:Glad you enjoyed it. And don't feel shy that you did! 😀

  4. Ben,Thank you for clearing me up on where Societal rules are at the moment in this matter. Per usual I'm out of the loop and a step behind on The Latest Scoop. It's all so confusing as to where the lines are coupled with concern that a misstep could result in a lawsuit if an invisible line is crossed. Will work on discovering my bold confidence where shyness used to be. ~ Janean

  5. Originally posted by jbaird:

    It's all so confusing as to where the lines are coupled with concern that a misstep could result in a lawsuit if an invisible line is crossed.

    You do live in the wrong country. Here the worst they'll do to you is slap you real hard… And some of us are into that anyways. 😛 :no:Of course if you go way too far out of line (but to do that, you really need to be a mile thicker than a ham sandwich) they shoot you. The law is just a minor itch in some cases…

  6. Yikes to the shooting! American Culture does do a number on the psyche of its women from a very young age. Sometimes I do wish I lived in a culture that didn't revere Skinny Minis and truly believed and nurtured the fact that a woman gets more beautiful as she ages instead of treating her like she's past her prime. Gray hair, wrinkles, extra curves, sags and bags and all. She's stunning because that's when her inner beauty shines brightest.

  7. Originally posted by jbaird:

    Yikes to the shooting!

    Yeah, it's shocking sometimes. But you really have to go too far in order to get shot – or, if it's with the police's blessing, beat yourself to death. You need to know who not to piss off. It's not always easy to grasp for newcomers.Originally posted by jbaird:

    Gray hair, wrinkles, extra curves, sags and bags and all.

    Well, permission to speak frankly… I'd rather hang with – and drink with, and talk to – the women you describe. It's much more interesting; it isn't all about shoes, bra's and Sex and the City. 🙂 But while talking to them, I'd be looking over my shoulder for some eyecandy. I'm a very good husband, but my wife agrees that it's much more pleasant to look at a strong bottle of stout than a used teabag, if you get my drift. Unfortunately looks and content rarely go together, because if you spend your life staying pretty – looking like you're 17 – you don't really get that much wiser, and are usually as interesting as someone who's 17.I'd rather drink a cup of tea than a strong bottle of stout. 😀

  8. When I was 17 I thought the guys were having more interesting conversations. There is so much more to life than hair, nails, clothes and boys. Then and now. I like my tea strong too. It's decaf chai spice tea today, just the right temperature in a mug I bought from a ceramic artist at at outdoor art fair that fits my hand wonderfully and even has grooves for warming them when winter comes. I gave up stronger drink in the fall and while I miss it just a bit, it's been A Good Thing for me overall. Clearer. Stronger. More In The Moment Right Now than tryin' to escape from it for a bit.

  9. Anonymous writes:Bekah Berry… And I was the friend on the phone cracking up, wondering what in the world was going on! Great blog, Janean- loved it!

  10. Originally posted by anonymous:

    Anonymous writes:Bekah Berry… And I was the friend on the phone cracking up, wondering what in the world was going on! Great blog, Janean- loved it!

    Bekah,As I read your note, I'm smiling at the memory of having the phone to my ear and my car window down trying to have two conversations at once. It was such a brief, fleeting moment, but one I'll always remember. So glad YOU are the friend I was talkin' to that night. Love,Janean

  11. On my way home from work today, I thought about my comment, and was worried you'd have taken offence. Thank you for having taken it the right way. There is truth in every jest…Funny, when I was 17, I thought adults' conversations were more interesting. I was kind of a loser in school, but that's because I never knew what to say in conversations. I thought too much and too deep. :)I've learnt since then, and now can hang with any age… Though I still prefer the crowd older than myself.Or the very young ones – like 5 or 6 years old. They're so full of fun and unexpected humour. I teach kindergarten for a living, and it's every day a pleasure.

  12. Originally posted by bentrein:

    On my way home from work today, I thought about my comment, and was worried you'd have taken offence. Thank you for having taken it the right way. There is truth in every jest…Funny, when I was 17, I thought adults' conversations were more interesting. I was kind of a loser in school, but that's because I never knew what to say in conversations. I thought too much and too deep. :)I've learnt since then, and now can hang with any age… Though I still prefer the crowd older than myself.Or the very young ones – like 5 or 6 years old. They're so full of fun and unexpected humour. I teach kindergarten for a living, and it's every day a pleasure.

    Ah yes, Ben Trein. I heard you how you meant it. I am an over thinker my whole life long. Now it's a hard habit to break. I'm not good at jumping before I think and plan and think some more. Trying to get better. My two sons, ages 11 and 8, helps me to be More In The Moment. I love the inhibition that the young and old revel in. They say what they think and aren't bogged down in, "What would "People" think?" Fun to know you teach kindergarten. I substitute as a classroom aide in four year old pre-K on occasion. They are so naturally inquisitive, observant, bold in saying what needs to be said and giving with their hugs and professions of love. Those are wonderful Work Days. So much better than workin' in advertising, where hugging isn't allowed, but is very much needed.

  13. Originally posted by jbaird:

    where hugging isn't allowed, but is very much needed.

    It's always needed, isn't it? But then I can imagine the only hugs you see in advertising are for the camera. And perhaps hugging the paychecks. :PI've just had a month's holiday, and am looking forward to starting with a new crowd in just over a week.Originally posted by jbaird:

    "What would "People" think?"

    Indeed, your children are right there. Who gives a cr*p what people think!? I mean, whatever you do – whether you live or die – someone is not gonna like it. So just be yourself; and considerate to others of course.

  14. Originally posted by bentrein:

    I've just had a month's holiday, and am looking forward to starting with a new crowd in just over a week.

    There is such excitement Going Back To School. Especially at that age, kindergarten, when it's all so new with a box full of crayons and friends to meet. My children went back on August 18. It felt a week too early in some ways and a week too late in others. I suppose it was Just Right and time for all of us to find some routine in our days again. My parents are both retired teachers. My mother still smiles and sighs happy sighs at the thought of new boxes of crayons. Perhaps I should buy her one? Hmmmm, I believe I'll do just that!Originally posted by bentrein:

    Indeed, your children are right there. Who gives a cr*p what people think!? I mean, whatever you do – whether you live or die – someone is not gonna like it. So just be yourself; and considerate to others of course.

    My NYC friend and I just had this very conversation on the phone this week. Must have been the way were raised to have manners, keep our heads down and mind our P's and Q's. But at what cost? Better to say what needs to be said, tactfully of course, than to simmer and sizzle until you nearly explode from the weight of the world building inside. How else can Good Little Girls grown up to be Strong Women? Yes. We HAVE TO let go of, "What would "People" think?" and just be ourselves, from the inside out.

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