Saturday, October 08, 2005

"funny but alarming"

I just finished reading the book Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, by Alexandra Robbins, described by The New Republic as "fascinating and eye-opening; it's a car crash you can't take your eyes off of..." Basically, blessed with the ability to pass for a nineteen-year-old, the author went undercover for a school year at an unnamed university and followed four sophomores around while they all got wasted (pre-gaming with thermoses of Absolut and Sprite), two of them got raped, one of them had an affair with Professor Stone, and various others did things like have sex on the lawn/floor of a bar/in the backseat and steal other girls' sundresses and thongs.

It reminded me of high school. Not the sex on the lawn but the cattiness that ensues when lots of girls (women? definitely not the group who call themselves womyn) form bonds and a social life that actually has less to do with each other than it does with a preoccupation to get a boyfriend. And a husband.

I spent three years in Nashville at an all-girls school (8th to 10th grade) and the weirdest phenomenon I observed was how easily girls would sell out their alleged friends by saying horrible things about them as soon as they'd left a room. At the time, it was so much more appealing for me to do "bad" and "rebellious" things like run around with my uniform shirt untucked and have Bronco squats (smoking cigarettes in the student parking lot between the SUVs) and crack coconuts on the sidewalk in front of the library with Kristina during lunch. Because I was funny, because I was the actress, because teachers liked my poetry and I did well enough on tests to make the Honor Roll, I had lots of friends and was pretty disengaged from all the social bullshit. But if I hadn't had any confidence to do my own thing, if I had actually wanted to fit in with these girls (imagine hundreds of Reese Witherspoons, who did go there, three years older than I), I think I would have been pretty...miserable. The most popular girls from my class ended up getting M.R.S. degrees at the University of Georgia/Bama/Tennessee/Missississippi and are now married, living in Nashville again. If they're working at all, it's for their fathers' real esate office/law firm and, across the board, they have their own memberships to the Belle Meade Country Club and will, inevitably, send their children to the same schools they attended.

Last night, Robert and I had another fight (about the fact that he had said he would call at a certain time and then never did...and I accused him of treating me "carelessly" and he said that the real problem is that everything is going to be pressurized between us until I have a ring on my finger. But no, I said, not everything is a marriage referendum; this really is just about doing what you said you were going to do) and while we were talking, I was writing baby names on scrap paper:
Ava Julianne Elizabeth
Ava Elizabeth Julianne
Ava Julianne
Noa Isabelle
bulldog named Norris

And finally I said, "I want to be free to see other people. I'm tired of waiting for you. I don't think it should be this hard."
I was thinking about Alpha Sigma Alphas on Spring Break in Negril, Jamaica, drinking from "ten to ten." Did they mean starting at ten o'clock at night or in the morning?
Robert said, "I don't think dumping me is going to solve anything."
I thought, Probably starting in the morning. No self-respecting sorority girl would sleep off a hangover in bed during prime tanning hours.
I said, "Robert, there's nothing else I can do. No one said anything about breaking up; what I'm saying is that I don't feel like I can count on you to do small things."
He was quiet.
"Rob?" I said.
"I'm here," he answered. "And I always get the big things right."
I played three games of tic-tac-toe by myself and I won two of them. The last one was a tie.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you, too," I said.
"I know you do. I know you love me."


Anonymous shampoozled said...

Hmmm...Doesn't the fact that you were writing down baby names during this conversation sort of illustrate a point?
Missing you sooooo much!

4:44 PM  
Blogger The Girl Who said...

You are too funny! Really, a fantastic writer. Ava was my chosen name for my first girl for the longest time.. I was dating a guy with the last name Adams.. So I wanted to name a girl 'Ava Victoria Adams'.. that way her initials would be her name. Isn't that silly? Thanks for the kindest post I've read yet on my blog.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Sarah Williams said...

Sarah, what is going on up there in NYC? good lord- baby names. Have I left you completely bereft of all sensibility? haha!
I love reading you!!! And miss you so much! For me, it is such a treasure to be able to read these passages from you.
must run- Mom is on the other line right now babbling about me taking the LSAT. on and on and on.... "and then if you're a trail lawyer...." AGHHHHHH

7:46 PM  
Blogger Unsane said...

hello. good story.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous camille said...

Would you consider yourself a southern belle? Are you from an old Southern family?

I miss writing baby names. It is all so incomplete without a last name. I have been thinking more about dog names these days.

9:13 AM  

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