Don’t Walk In the Dark

20170123_181755I worked late last night. The sun had already dipped below the horizon, and even the ribbons of twilight had twisted into charcoal gray shadows. I drive through the countryside, past full cornfields or soybean fields in the summer, stretches of empty farm fields in the winter.

As I drove along the deserted country road, I had the strangest urge to pull over to the side and just take a walk through an empty cornfield. Of course, I couldn’t because: a) I was wearing only dress shoes, b) it was only 32 degrees out, c) it was dark, turning to black dark.

But the desire made me think past the temporary roadblocks.

If all other circumstances were constant, i.e., warmer weather, gym shoes, a tad more light, I still would think twice about crossing the field. I would be afraid that someone would come along and — well, you can just imagine. I would clearly be at a disadvantage because I am: a) 5 ft. tall, b) 60+ years old, c) know nothing about self defense.

I know that sounds silly, and in some ways it is. But women have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to going off on their own. We are easily bullied, pushed around, beaten, and worse. We always find ourselves having to “prove” we are able to take care of ourselves.

We do take care of ourselves, of course. We travel by ourselves, drive by ourselves, go to restaurants by ourselves. But we don’t often wander through the woods or fields by ourselves. Not when there’s little or no light.

I find that very sad.

I think it’s unfortunate that so few have affected so many. It’s easy enough to bully women to begin with, but it’s worse when our own fears of adversity stop us from doing things we really want to do. It’s one thing to do things alone in a controlled environment, but take off to walk the beach or the woods totally alone — second thoughts. Always second thoughts.

I don’t mean to make this a sour grape thing — I have friends who don’t let petty things like crazies stop them from enjoying life. They are smart, sharp, and pay attention.

I supposed I’m easily spooked. I have a safe path through the patch of woods behind my house that leads to the back gate, and the whole area is wire fenced. Yet you won’t catch me walking that path in the dark. I don’t like that there may be things I can’t see just at the edge of sight. Same is true about empty country roads. Or endless cornfields.

To quote my favorite Mrs. Dudley in The Haunting:

I don’t stay after I set out the dinner, not after it begins to get dark. I leave before the dark. We live over in town, miles away. So there won’t be anyone around if you need help. We couldn’t hear you. In the night. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town. No one will come any nearer than that. In the night. In the dark. 

Funny thing is — it’s not the spirits of the dead that frighten me. It’s the spirits of the living —

 

Marriage Lessons…?

Couple Embracing 1As usual, my pre-blog state is one thing, the actual blog another. During break this morning I came across this article in the Huffington Post and just had to read it.

I’m almost sorry I did.

I was born in the early 50’s, so I never really “knew” what their version of marriage should be. Yes, my mom loved my dad. Yes, my dad suffered from PTS from World War II, something men back then didn’t talk about. Yes, my dad occasionally pulled out the Army Belt to make a point to my brothers.  Yes, that wasn’t the right way to do things, but that’s how it was done.

But this article entitled, “Aweful ’50s Marriage Advice Shows What Our Mothers and Grandmothers Were Up Against,” shocked me to my core. With all the news lately about domestic violence, and perpetrators saying that’s how they were raised, gives even more insight into what our mothers and grandmothers really went through.

Taken from the Ladies’ Home Journal’s Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, here are the top lessons back then:

Lesson: A woman’s “personality” is to blame for marital problems. (April 1953)

Solution: Sylvia was advised to “change her personality and deeply rooted attitudes” against her husband, the counselor wrote, because she’d “deeply wounded his masculine pride.” Being too “fast” with boys in her past had left the 31-year-old almost as emotionally immature as a child of four or five … driving her husband out of his home to the corner bar and into the arms of other women.” The counselor found ways to blame Sylvia in every aspect of the couple’s marital woes, from Everett’s drinking to Everett’s probable infidelity, while Everett himself merely “modified” his drinking and philandering.

 

Lesson: The longer you’ve been married, the more you should let domestic violence slide. (April 1954)

Solution: Apparently, Lucy was now chained to her abusive husband because she’d somehow missed her window of escape at the ripe old age of 36. “[Lucy], her child and her elderly aunt were financially dependent… Without Dan, Lucy was marooned” — safety and mental health be damned. Lucy’s husband, a man who didn’t like seeing women in pants, was even excused for considering his son a “rival” because his wife wasn’t paying him enough “badly needed praise, appreciation, admiration [and] love.”

 

Lesson: Wives should be able to read minds (February 1953)

Solution: the counselor chided Alice for her lack of ESP. “In cooking him expensive steaks and smothering him with excessive protestations of love,” it was explained, “she was offering him not the kind of attention he wanted and needed but the kind she wanted herself.” A good wife would have realized she was making nice dinners the family couldn’t quite afford, even though her husband wasn’t using his big boy words to express himself.

 

Lesson: If you don’t give your spouse enough attention, he has a fair excuse to cheat on you (May 1953)

Solution: “Of course, she herself was largely responsible for Joe’s infidelity. She practically drove her husband to find in the company of another woman a little of the praise and credit he was not receiving at home,” the counselor wrote. Amy was advised to “adopt a divergent set of values” because she was “just too busy.” Poor Joe “felt like a nobody who didn’t count” while his wife made sure they had enough income to eat.

 

Lesson: Never try to have it all (October 1955)

Solution: The counselor found Patrice at fault not just because of her career, but “the way she handled her career, her husband [and] her child.” Patrice, the counselor noted, “grew to womanhood hating the unalterable fact that she was doomed to be a female in a man-made world.” Luckily, she got her “true reward” in the end, “when she reduced her career to second place … she became a successful wife and a successful mother.”

You have to read the details behind each lesson. You have to.

Here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/26/can-this-marriage-be-saved-advice_n_5829870.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

Have fun. And quit squinching up your face every other word…