By Jeanne Charters
I’m going to try to write to topic for a change. I really planned to focus on the political, considering next month is November. But I’m sick of it, and I imagine you are, too. Suffice it to say—vote smart! And if you’re female, it’s pretty clear what smart is this time around.
And I’m not just talking about for President. Take a look at Congress and the North Carolina legislature. Get yourself and all your female relatives to that polling place. You owe it to your daughters. The Dems aren’t perfect. But at least they’re not as anti-female as the other side. Think Akin and Ryan.
Plus, there are some fabulous women running right here in North Carolina. ‘Nuf said! VOTE!!
Women and Wheels, huh?
Frankly, I’m not a particularly “wheely” woman. Automobiles have never been a status symbol to me. Even when I had some money, it just didn’t make sense to sink it into something that would lose value faster than red wine left uncorked. Don’t worry—that’s not something I’d ever do. Leave red wine uncorked, I mean. Red wine is important!! Although I don’t buy that for status either. You’d know that if you ever looked at the gallon jugs in my recycling bin.
Anyway, I think my anathema to all things wheeled began when I tried to ride my first two-wheeler. At first, it was so exciting—looking back at daddy who had been holding on to the back of the seat and then realizing he was a block away. Yowza!
It was later, when I tried to keep up with friends who rode their bikes with what seemed to be speed equivalent to Lance Armstrong in a Tour de France that I began to question my own proficiency. I’m sure those girls weren’t really all that great. But compared to me, who fell off more often than she stayed on, they were rock stars. Maybe they were doping, too. Hmmm. Not that I think Lance was really doping all those years but, if not, why stop fighting the allegations? Just wonderin’… But back to bicycles.
Did you ever fall on that metal bar thing that runs under the crotch of boys’ bikes? Of course, you did. Every little girl has done that at least once. And, when you did that, lying there in agony on the ground wondering if your marital eligibility was forever ruined, did you ask that age-old question? “Why the f*** did they ever put that stupid bar there?” Not that you probably used that word in those days. I didn’t. I went to Catholic School after all. But who knows? Maybe you were a “public.”
I went from fear of bikes to fear of motorcycles to ambivalence about cars. Never fear—and I have the speeding tickets to prove it.
In an earlier life, I used to sell TV advertising. My least favorite clients were car dealerships. And with good cause! I’d walk in one of those big, glass-walled places to call on Mr. Marketing Manager because my foolish boss thought auto-dealer marketing managers were normal people.
They weren’t. Not even close.
There I’d stand (having been announced by some minion car salesman) in my suit and heels, leather briefcase at the ready. Prepared to discuss reach, frequency, and how my TV shows and branding idea could deliver more customers than any of the guys he regularly played golf with who just happened to be my competitors.
M.M.M. looked at me as if I were a steak he wanted to carve into. Or, sometimes, he just turned his back and pretended to have a very important phone call in his very important office. I’m not kidding here. Car dealers (along with middle-aged Irish-American males) hated me on sight. That last part is because I think I looked so Irish myself and reminded them of their domineering mothers. I think car dealers just believed women had no right to invade their sacred space of manliness. You know, wheels and gears and sprockets. Oh no, I forgot. That was bicycles.
My biggest faux pas at a car showroom was when I pulled out a marketing piece stating that recent statistics indicated women were buying as many cars as men. Yes, it was true. And, no, it was not what M.M.M. wanted to hear. Car sales were a macho business, you know, and not something that silly women had any business sticking their sweet little noses into.
Suffice it to say, auto dealerships were not my most successful selling ventures. I did better with hospitals—specifically, birthing hospitals. But there were no wheels there, unless you count those gurney things they use to wheel you into delivery. Those were nice wheels.
When I bought my last automobile, M.M.M. had become Miss Marketing Manager. It set my heart aflutter to see her there in her suit and heels. And, as she launched into her spiel about the car, it was clear she was a lot more informed than those guys I called on so many years ago. I was vindicated!
Funny, isn’t it? Sometimes, life just comes full circle. Just like a wheel.
Jeanne Charters, a transplant from New York, is a writer living in Asheville with her husband, Matt Restivo. Her collection of columns, “Funny, isn’t it?” is available at Malaprops, Mountain Made in the Grove Arcade, or at jeannecharters.com.
She has written three novels and has acquired an agent for her young adult novel, “Shanty Gold.” Jeanne is working on edits, per that agent, and hopes to have a publisher this year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.