Saturday, October 15, 2011

Secretary: Advice on Rejecting Women

I watched my favorite movie the other day.

More than being my favorite movie, it is, hands down, the greatest film ever made.  It's sheer perfection on the big screen.

Secretary starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader, released in 2002.  I saw it for the first time in 2004.  I was totally hooked.

I now own two copies of the DVD.

For a very good reason.  One copy got packed away during my last move and is now in some box, somewhere, toward the back of my closet, underneath several boxes of other stuff I do not use on a daily basis.  I never expected to be where I am for as long as I have been, which is why it is packed away at all.

Wanting to watch it again, and now wanting to spend a solid week pulling out boxes, opening boxes, digging through boxes, re-organizing boxes, returning boxes to the closet, and suffering from allergy induces asthma for a month, I simply bought another copy.

I hadn't watched Secretary in several years when my new copy arrived from Amazon via the USPS.  Oh, heaven's delight!

Actually, the previous occasion on which I watched Secretary was when I was in Hawaii visiting my now ex.

He had never seen the movie.  I am absolutely LOVE the film.  For a number of reasons.

But the reason about which I am writing today is this:

Secretary tells men everything they need to know about how to tell a woman he is not interested in a romantic relationship with her.

Now, this information is demonstrated in a single scene in the film which is, without a doubt, my favorite scene.  It is a scene my ex absolutely hated.

I think it's one of the best scenes in the entire film.  He thinks it's the worst.

My response when watching it:  Thank God for simple fucking honesty!

His response:  What a fucking bitch!

And here it is people:

Well, first, let me set up the background:

Lee Holloway has fallen in love.  But the man with whom she is in love, Mr. E. Edward Gray, has rejected her because of his own feelings of inadequacy and shame.  So, she continues to see the man she's been seeing casually, Peter, because he's there.

It is obvious from the get-go that Lee is not at all interested in Peter.  She lacks any enthusiasm for him at all.  She is bored and invests no time or effort in the relationship.

And Peter proposes.  Lee accepts because, "I didn't know what else to do."

Later, standing in a wedding dress Lee realizes that she can't go through with it.  Running from the house, she pauses long enough to return the engagement ring to Peter, and goes to see Edward.

In the following scene, Peter comes to see Lee at Edward's office.  This is the scene that tells you everything you need to know about telling a woman you're just not that into her.

"I don't want you."

Four simple words.  I.  Don't.  Want.  You.

It's just that simple.

Direct.

Honest.

True.

It's just that simple.

I don't want you.

That's all you have to say.  No excuses.  No explanations. 

Excuses and explanation suggest circumstances might change.  Things might be different someday.

Except, they won't.  And we all know it.

But suggesting that they might, leaves women confused at best and hopeful at worst.  In the long run, excuses and explanations only hurt women.  They don't "let a girl down easy."  They dishonor a woman.  First because they're dishonest.  And second because they suggest the someday.

Four simple words.

I don't want you.

Someone said it to me once.

I appreciated it.

I felt respected.

I felt honored.

I walked away with my dignity intact.  No questions.  No false hopes.

I don't want you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wearing the Clothes God Gave Us

Exodus 31:1-14
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

*****

Once again Pastor Bob has decided to take off and leave me with a set of scriptures that deal with a feast. A year ago it was Lazarus and the Rich Man; in February it was Salt of the Earth; today, it’s a Wedding Banquet. For a man who has never eaten a meal I’ve prepared, he has an uncanny knack for leaving me with the food metaphors. Which is, at the very least, somewhat interesting, and may be an indication that I ought to play to my strengths.  

After all, our Exodus reading tells us that the Lord filled Moses with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge, and with all kinds of skills. Now, I don’t know about wisdom, or understanding, or knowledge, but I know, and I don’t mind sharing with you (yet again) that I have got some made skills in the kitchen. And I love it!

As I was reflecting on the scriptures for today, I was trying to find some way to get at them, to enter into them, to make them come alive for me as I read them. I was kind of at a loss. What do I know about weddings and wedding feasts? I’ve never been married. I’ve never even been close. A number of my friends are married, but I’ve been to very weddings. Time and space have, on occasion, prevented me from celebrating the marriages of those I love.

And then I remembered. I’ve actually baked for weddings, plural. Three, in fact. When I was still in college, a friend of mine was getting married. She and her fiancĂ© decided they didn’t want to do a big fancy wedding cake. It really wasn’t their style, and they wanted to share their love of other desserts with their guests. So, I was commissioned, and invited to do whatever I wanted using as much chocolate as the check they cut me would afford. Now, the groom’s favorite dessert is chocolate chip cookies. So, I baked a couple. Probably 10 cookies, actually. Which might not seem like many. Except they were pressed into 12-inch pizza pans. 10 giant chocolate chip cookies! They were awesome.

And cheesecake. Chocolate cheesecake. And tortes. And French Silk pies. And truffles. The hardest part was delivering it all, in searing July 4th heat, from my kitchen in Buckingham to the reception hall in Iowa City. Fortunately, it all held up, and people feasted on some of the best desserts ever beheld at a wedding a banquet.

Seven years ago when another friend got married, I actually got to make her wedding cake! It was quite possibly the most fun I’ve ever had making a cake. Pink Champagne cake, filled with raspberry cream, and frosted with pink champagne buttercream. Decorated with flowers. De-lightful! I can’t even begin to tell you! There are pictures of it somewhere. I’ll have to see if I can’t find those one of these days.

Again, three years ago, when another friend was getting married, she asked if I would assist her mother in the kitchen. She and her husband decided to have a mini, cookies and coffee reception before the dinner, so that she and her husband could have their wedding photos taken. An entire day was spent making her and her husband’s favorite cookies from their families recipes. I really do LOVE to bake.

And in today’s gospel lesson, we have a king who has prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He has invited his friends, and is expecting their presence. Now in the ancient world, two invitations were sent when it came to wedding feasts. A first was sent to invite the guests, to let them know that a feast was being prepared and that their presence was desired. A second invitation was sent out after the feast had been prepared, to let the guests know the time had come, and it was appropriate for them to arrive.

At the same time that the initial invitation was sent out, the host of the wedding feast would also send garments to be worn to the banquet. Being a party, in a culture where hospitality is a fundamental value, the host would provide appropriate clothing so that no one would feel ashamed of their dress or status and refuse to come.

So, here we are. The invitations have been sent. The guests have been informed that the feast is prepared, the oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered. Everything is ready. And those to whom an invitation was sent all refuse to come.

So, here we are. The invitations have been sent. The guests have been informed that the feast is prepared, the oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered. Everything is ready. And those to whom an invitation was sent all refuse to come. Instead, they go elsewhere, one to his field, another to his business. The rest killed those who came to fetch them for the feast.

So, the king sends out a new batch of servants. He tells them that the feast is ready, and they are to go out into the streets and gather all of the people they can find, and to fill the wedding hall with guests. And so, the servants go out. They gather all the people they can find. They present them with the wedding clothes, and bring them to the feast. The wedding hall was filled with people! It was time to party.

But then the king stumbles upon a man who is not wearing the wedding clothes. And the king asks the man, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?” And having no answer, the man is thrown out of the banquet. He has indicated, by his dress, that he does not respect the king or the gift the king has given him.

Now, in the book of Ephesians, Paul compares Jesus to a husband, the church to his wife. If we are a part of the church, we’re all kind of hanging out at the party. And we’ve been given good food to eat and fancy clothes to wear.

And I sometimes wonder if we realize it. We have been filled with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge, and with all kinds of skills. And like Bezalel, who was given these gifts to honor God by building a resting place the Ark of the Covenant Law—the very thing that was believed to hold the presence of God—we are called to use our gifts, skills, talents, knowledge to honor God by building a world in which the presence of God is experienced by all. These, I believe, are the clothes the Lord has bestowed upon us.

And the good food, on which we get to feast, is being of the same mind in the Lord—having the mind of Christ. And in choosing this, we are truly able to “rejoice in the Lord always,” no matter our circumstances or struggles. We do not need to be anxious about anything. Because we can always present our requests to God.  When we do so, the peace of God will guard our hearts and our mind in Christ Jesus.  

And how do we share in this mind of Christ? By choosing to follow the directive Paul gives us in Philippians: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Do you know what I believe to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise?

These three simple facts: You are acceptable. You are worthy. You are loved. Just the way you are. And how do I know this? Because God said so. And once we come to believe these truths ourselves, we become uniquely equipped to use the gifts which God has bestowed upon us to share these truths with others. So today, may you know how truly acceptable, worthy, and loved you are, and may you share that truth with those around you, that someday the love of God may be experienced by all.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

New Panties!

Yes, this blog posting really is about new panties.  And old panties.  A post entirely devoted to panties.

And since it's been awhile since I posted about panties, I'll just say it up front:  Panties are my favorite accessory.

Now, there are some, and I know SEVERAL who would happily argue 'til the cows come home that panties are NOT an accessory.  They are a necessity.

Well, I disagree.  And I disagree for one reason, and one reason only.  At one point in my life, I went an entire year without wearing a single pair of panties.  My friends who knew of my panties-eschewing, commando were somewhat horrified.  Who could possibly go a day without wearing panties let alone a year without wearing panties?!

Well, 4% of the American population, including me apparently.

But I didn't give up panties for any great love of freedom and breezy nature of skirts.  My reasons for not wearing panties are far more entertaining.

I lost my panties.

Not in a "Where did they go?" kind of way.  But in a "I've quite literally lost them off my body" kind of way.

I had spent 18 months diligently eating healthy and exercising like a fiend.  I had lost 165 pounds.  My panties were officially 8 sizes too big.

And I wear skirts and dresses with relish.

So, there I was, a fine fall afternoon, walking down Broadway in Morningside Heights, and my silky string bikini has suddenly worked its way to my knees.  I know that in another three steps, it'll be around my ankles and two steps after that in a satin puddle on the sidewalk, brown background and colorful butterflies for all the world to see.

What exactly does one do in this kind of a situation?  Well, I clamped my knees together like doing so was going to save my life, and I dashed, er hobbled, into Barnard College courtyard, straight into the first building I could find, to the ladie's room.  Sure enough, as soon as I unclenched my knees my panties were on the floor.

I stepped out of them, tucked my in my shoulder bag, and headed on my way.  It was a breezy day.

This is when I first learned that panties are not a necessity.  And if you can't afford to buy a new pair, they are quite a luxurious accessory.  And I'm not the $10 for a 6 pack at Wal-Mart kind of girl.  I'm a $14.50 a pair but when they're always on sale 5 for $30 kind of girl.

So, having spent the last few months diligently eating healthy (no more refined sugar) and exercising (hey, I've graduated from working with 8-lb free weight to 10-lb free weights), my waist band was getting looser.  And after a year and half, there were stains and worn out elastic and holes.

Thus, yesterday, I went shopping!  And I bought panties.  And it was a blast.  I found a great sweater and the world cutest cotton nighty, too!  White cotton, spaghetti straps, with purple and green cross-stitched flowers and hem line.  It was a very fruitful trip.

My panty drawer is now full of beautiful accessories that fit, and will continue to do so for another several months.  And when I put on a skirt for church this morning, I was sure to grab from the side of new panties.  Because losing your panties on Broadway is one thing.  Losing them at the Communion table?  Something else entirely.

God bless those new panties.  They stayed in place.