Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Revelation and Proposed Social Experiment

Last Sunday, I was hanging out in the green room at the Civic shortly after arriving. There's usually no rush to get into makeup or costumes (for one, the costumes are very, very warm), so often we sit out for a few minutes and socialize. I had worn my Super(wo)man t-shirt, one of those babydoll T's that, well, shows off my ampleness, to say the least. I realize this. I also realize that there is really no way of getting around my ampleness, short of wearing a circus tent. They're just there. They're on display 24-7. I've come to terms with it.

What I haven't come to terms with, however, is the seeming necessity of pointing it out. Or pointing them out, I should say. Comments fly left and right, particularly in the theater crowd--known for their perpetually loosened inhibitions. You'd think, after so many years of being involved in theater, music, and drum corps, that I would have become immune to it. But I haven't.

I used to think it was because I was sensitive about them. And maybe, years ago, this was true. Somewhere between the ages of 19 and 21, they exploded into even greater girth than they previously encompassed, which was a feat in and of itself (I've been the "big" girl since probably the early 90's). I became a D cup for the first time. And oh, did I cry. I really did.

I didn't like all the attention they got--I still don't. And the other night, after the comments I received in the green room (and of course laughed about at the time), I figured out why it bothers me so much. It's not that I'm still sensitive about their size or anything--like many other aspects of myself, I've grown into them and come to accept them as one part of a much greater whole. It's the fact that, in common social ettiquette, there is no analogous joking or commenting done on other body parts, male or female, to the person's face.

Example: One does not, in the course of a casual conversation, say, "wow, that's an enormous ass you've got there!"

Other off-limit body parts would include noses, ears, hair, elbows, pinky fingers, and anything else that's usually visible. When these parts are deformed or different in some way, we try not to say anything; we even try not to look at them (and then worriedly wonder if it's obvious that we're not looking, and so we look, and then we try not to look again because we fear we're looking too much). We try not to mention scars or moles or pimples, either. To do otherwise, we fear, would be horribly impolite. You never know who might be sensitive, or what unpleasant story lies behind that scar.

And most of all, one does not mention someone's obesity. To tell someone, to their face, that they are fat might be the worst social sin one could commit.

I have noticed, however, that people have no compunction about discussing my breasts. Something about their double-D glory causes inhibitions to slacken and tongues to wag (bah dum dum). And it doesn't seem anyone gives a passing thought to whether or not I appreciate it, want it, or if it might even hurt my feelings to have it pointed out that my chest size could be measured in relation to a small state. Because you see, I know it, realize it, and accept it; however, I do not want it to be a topic of conversation, any more than someone with goiter would like their goiter discussed in public.

I have noticed one other exception to the don't-talk-about-other-people's-appearances rule: a girlfriend of mine in college was incredibly thin, and she constantly got comments, jabs, jokes, and snide remarks about it. She was not anorexic (believe me, I saw her eat--no problem there), nor was she a workout fanatic. She just was what she was. And I could tell, sometimes, that she was as sensitive about it as I was about my respective physique. Sometimes I thought to be jealous of her for her thinness, but nowadays I realize it's just the other side of a coin. I feel the same way about men and the pressures they experience. So many women claim that men don't have any problems or worries when it comes to society's expectations of how they should look, and I for one find that to be complete bull. The men in my life have admitted to feeling pressure to look a certain way, even it's unrealistic for them to do so: pecs, that triangular torso, biceps....being meaty without being fat....et cetera.

And so: I may have developed a sense of humor and acceptance about my body's natural shape and size, but that doesn't mean I feel it's appropriate as a topic of conversation.

As for the social experiment, I think it would be interesting and enlightening to see what would happen if we all made the comments about each others' appearances that we think and currently don't say. I've often thought the world would be a better place if we all shared the positive things we think about each other and never say. How often have we thought, "I like her sweater" or "His hair looks nice today"? But then we don't say it, either because we're rushing or because we feel uncomfortable for some reason--maybe we don't know them well and we feel we'd be overstepping our relationship, or whatever. So what if we took all the social inhibitions away, and said what we actually thought at all times? Would the world be better--or would it become even more of a crushing existence than it already is? Or maybe, just maybe, we'd learn to think even more deeply before we spoke, voicing not our initial reactions but our completed thought process. For instance, "I like her sweater" could become "I haven't noticed the way she dressed before. Something must be different. I wonder what's happening in her life that might cause her to dress nicely today?" And then we would ask that question, thereby inviting her to share with us and thereby deepen our relationship.

Just sayin'.

Update: I've been "promoted," so to speak. The woman playing Lady MacDuff has sort of quit/been removed (a little of both) from the show. Apparently she got a gig elsewhere that interfered with our final weekend of performances. And so they have asked me to step in and take her place. I will simultaneously be playing my original role (thankfully we don't have any scenes together--that would difficult and weird), which will lead to a small case of schizophrenia, but only for a couple of days. I'm excited to take the part, because it's a beautiful, emotionally rich scene (or emotionally magnificent, in the words of Michael Scott). It's too bad things had to work out that way, but hey--now I have a character with a name!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Musings on Friendship

This week, I had to approach a friend in a way that I really didn't want to....she's an old friend of mine, someone I've known since middle school, and due to some business dealings that we really shouldn't have done anyway (live and learn), she owes me a sum of money. I know that she's had a lot of stuff going on in her life....her son was diagnosed with some serious health problems, and her husband joined the army and will be deployed soon (plus, they had to move out of the state). So I've been really trying to just keep it on the DL and not pressure her, because I know how hard it is to try to deal with other things when so much else is on the table.

This does not, however, change the fact that we were really not well at all financially on this end....this time last year, we were struggling to make ends meet. Much crackers and peanut butter were eaten in lieu of real meals. It's a wonder our credit scores haven't plummeted to lower dimension of existence. Somehow, we managed. But of course, this builds resentment if one doesn't keep it in perspective....the whole "how DARE you take me for granted, after all I kept my mouth shut when I could have used that money to live on" deal.

Thankfully, we're finally re-establishing communications and I think we'll be getting somewhere soon. I'm really excited, most of all, to get our friendship back. I have learned a valuable lesson (although I should have learned it long ago)--friends and money don't mix. It's just a bad idea. That's why I sometimes shake my head at how willingly so many people move in with friends, or significant others. Especially significant others, actually. Until you've actually made the commitment to be together on a more life-long basis, you're still just basically rooming with a friend--and things have the opportunity to go really sour, really fast. That's not to say things can't go sour and get financially messy after you're married--but then at least legally, you have much more obvious recourse (and in fact, obligation). I've found, since being married, that there's just this sense of long-haul mentality that wasn't there before. I mean, it was, but it wasn't. Of course we talked about the future and made plans and all of that....but nowadays, it seems like, since we both have our minds made up to make this work, we just do. Make it work, I mean. In terms of money and everything else, too.

I'm just happy that my friend and I seem to be on the verge of putting this behind us. I feel bad for ever letting it come between us at all, although at the time it seemed like a good thing to do. I should have known better, but that's what life is for: figuring out all the things you should have known better, so that when you're presented with them again, you do know better.

During our Sunday matinee show of Macbeth, our trap broke. A very interesting time was had by all. This was during the last scene of the first half, right before intermission....with about four to five burly men on it. It didn't plummet, so it's not like anyone was afraid for their lives, but nevertheless, it made the rest of the scene more complicated. It also meant that, after we were able to push it up to its somewhat normal position and bolster it so it wouldn't sink again, we could no longer use it for the rest of the show. Fortunately, we only had one more scene where it was used, and that was just for a scene change--which we then did by hand instead. More heavy lifting, but that's the price you pay. It's a good thing it should happen to day--rather than, say, Thursday--because we don't have another show till next Friday. Hopefully by then it will be fixed. If not, we'll have some interesting end-of-run blocking changes for some folks.

This weekend wasn't great for my 30 day commitment. However, it was only a couple days all told, and it wasn't as bad as it could have been. This week is going to be so lovely--not having to be at the theater every night means I'll get to cook a couple meals! Real food! And time for working out as well. Today, Ryan and I took a bike ride together on the Portage Bicentennial Trail--we probably did about 8 miles, all told, if you include the biking we had to do to get to the head of the trail and back. It felt so wonderful to be out in the open air on what may be one of the last mild, temperate days of the year. It felt so ennervating, the wind rushing against my face and my body moving constantly. It made me think about the difference between exhaustion and tiredness....to me, of late, exhaustion has been a mental/emotional state of being, that feeling where you simply cannot endure thought. You sleep for escape, not rejuvenation; generally, you wake up feeling not a whole lot better than you did when you went to bed, except that your body needs a fresh shot of caffeine. On the other hand, tiredness is the result of actual physical exertion....the glorious feeling of having done something, having used all your muscles and tendons and various parts to accomplish something, and now they all need their rest. I know I'm going to tumble into bed tonight feeling so much more grateful for sleep than I have in a long while.

Labels: , ,