Ken Harrison 7 p.m., Jan. 20
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The Good 'Ole Days
Remember PSA? Formally known as Pacific Southwest Airlines, my husband swears it stood for Pretty Stewardess Airlines, and I'm afraid I would have to agree. They rocked those uniforms, and they loved their jobs. Before it was sadly eaten up by USAir in 1988, this was the swingin' airline to fly. I enjoyed those days. It was always fun to be on a PSA flight, where sometimes the crew partied just as hard as the passengers. I wasn't even old enough to drink, but I still managed to get just as crocked as the next passenger. Maybe this was to prevent us from thinking about the fact that, at the time, PSA had the worst safety record of the top eleven US airlines. Did we care? Hell, no. We would not have considered flying on any other airline.
These were the good old days. My first "real" job was in 1984, when women were entering the work force in droves, and we were all wearing those stupid bow tie blouses. When I moved to San Diego in 1986, I got a job at an escrow company, as what was then called an escrow "secretary". We call them assistants now. The escrow officers had their own offices, and we secretaries would sit at our desks outside the office and entertain the mostly male clientele (believe it or not, title to real property was still many times held as married men as their sole and separate property) while the officers finished up their paperwork. They would flirt with us, and we would flirt right back. We had ashtrays at our desks, and they could smoke or enjoy a cocktail while they were waiting. The escrow manager kept a small bar in her office, unheard of nowadays. Business was conducted in a different manner back then, today what would be considered not politically correct behavior and, probably by today's standards, grounds for termination or a sexual harassment lawsuit.
It was actually kind of fun to be a woman back then. We were not yet quite aware of our potential, and we were lifted up by male attention. Nowadays, as we have become more enlightened, it seems as if we are stuck in a type of time warp. My mother in law, an extremely successful real estate agent, displays this perfectly. Brilliant at her job, flawless in her execution of closing a deal, she none the less becomes a different person at home. My father in law, bless his heart, displays an unwavering intolerance to her opinions, stifling her voice when she dares to display the slightest bit of knowledge about current events, or even past events. "That's not how it happened!" he will bellow, when she tells us a funny story that has us all in stitches. "Why don't you tell it?" is her inevitable response. It's sad. When I am with her in a car full of her cronies, they tell the funniest stories, have the most delicious morbid sense of humor (example - "we are all dropping like flies so listen up"), and I am completely at ease sitting there listening to HISTORY.
They lived a different life. I see home movies of them, the kids running around, them looking glamorous in their straight skirts and sweaters, or their June Cleaver dresses. They really did not have a care in the world. Raising their families was their life's work, and the men took care of the rest. They played cards, took trips, went to the beauty salon, and whipped up fabulous meals from the recipes of Julia Child and Kerr Graham. My mother in law started her real estate career after the last child had left for college, and not one moment sooner.
On the other hand, my own mother, divorced with three children in the 1970's, had a decidedly different experience. She worked as a senior draftsmen (draftswomen?) for a company in New York. She was young, pretty, and talented. She also suffered harassment at a level unheard of today. She was the only woman in the company who was not a secretary. She went to get a loan to buy a house. She was highly qualified, but the bank told her she was not because she would most likely get married and have another child, and therefore leave her job at some point. There is a generation gap between my mother and my husband's mother.
I have friends who practice on-line dating. This is foreign to me, as I have been in a committed relationship for 13 years. E-Harmony and the like were in their infancy when I first met my husband, labeled as the last bastion for the pathetic and desperate. Now they are so commonplace that single people no longer even meet potential dates the old fashioned way. They list their inflated positive qualities on a website, to be scrolled over and either clicked as a possible date or passed over because of some flaw, such as hair color or shape of nose. By the time they actually get together after numerous text messages to see who can out-busy the other, they are already sick of each other. Now, I have heard numerous success stories that resulted from on-line dating, a couple that are good friends of ours being a shining example. But most of my female friends tell me they encounter men trolling for an easy lay, having to practically beat the guy off with a baseball bat when they start pawing at them, only to have them peel away in their cars a sullen reject, screaming out the car window "don't ever text me again" as their parting shot. My men friends have it just as bad. They seem to encounter a startling number of unemployed (or questionably employed) women who want to pack the U-Haul after coffee and a bagel. I just find it odd. Is this what it's become? Point and click your way to a match made in heaven? Sounds like hell to me.
I just finished watching "Finding Amanda". This movie at first seemed a female statement of empowerment. The protagonist gives a dissertation of her condition. Why is she in Vegas, etc., etc. You start to identify with her. You actually start to think "f*ck it, why can't we women just do what our bodies were programmed to do, AND get paid for what men's bodies were programmed to enjoy?" As she escapes the rehab facility at the end of the movie and gets into her loser boyfriend's truck to speed away, you realize that is not what you wanted for her at all.
It's very strange to look at young women today from my vantage point. Competing not so much for men's attention than against each other. Or they are agonizing about whether or not to have children, as it might impede their success at work. I just finished a creative writing class, and one of my fellow students wrote a beautiful story about her not yet conceived baby girl. She broke down while reading this, completely convinced she would remain childless if she wanted to have a career. Now it gets worse. She compared the level of success she needed to achieve to Oprah Winfrey, citing Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina as examples of FAILURE! Sure, they've had their ups and downs, but failures? Hardly. Anyway, these are the ones lucky enough to have a career. We also have the flip-side, the Craigslist hookers, the stripper flights to Vegas. Are these legitimate career choices? Are they the only choices? Who am I too say? Either way, neither sounds like much fun.
I wish women had it easier. It makes me wonder, is having a man take care of you all that bad? Then I consider that many men today do not want to take care of a woman, let alone a family, and many women are not willing to commit to a lifetime with one man. Why should they when they can take care of themselves? Yet, they all seem to be looking for "the one". I consider myself somewhat of a feminist. If that is the case, then why am I pining for something that will never, ever again happen for women? Shouldn't I be celebrating the fact that we are no longer dependent on men for our survival? Being born of a certain generation, I'll never know. I've always had to fend for myself, and having a husband is a luxury, not a necessity. I have a career. I guess I should just consider myself lucky.