The Goddess Speaks

By Debra Evans

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Audience, take a bow

IT is the night of my son's Third Grade Music Program and the school cafeteria is quickly filling up. A hundred or so mismatched plastic chairs meant for seating hungry children now double as theater seating, and from where I sit, I have a good view of the stage.

Suddenly, two women with three young children maneuver their way into the row in front of me. The woman who sits in front of me is a stickler for perfect posture. Her back doesn't even touch the chair. Her teased Farrah Fawcett hair looms large. Hoping that she'll relax and settle down in her seat, I turn my attention across the aisle.

With his chair askew and facing the back of the room, a husky, middle-aged man is socializing with someone in the next row. I notice him because his chair juts out haphazardly into the aisle.

Just as I'm about to look away, I notice a slender woman making her way down the aisle toward him. Balancing her handbag in one hand and a cup of juice in the other, she inches down the aisle in slow, crablike steps. She stops when she reaches the out-of-line man. Carefully setting her handbag down in a nearby empty seat, she reaches for his hand and slowly guides the cup into his open palm.

Ignoring her presence and continuing to yuk it up with his friend in the next row, he allows the woman to fit the cup into his hand. She carefully closes his fingers around the cup and waits until he takes a sip. Only then does the slender woman quietly take her seat.

"OH. MY. GOD," the liberated part of me shrieks, while the wifey part of me gushes, "Oh, how nice!"

Explanations and rationalizations race through my mind: a wife tending to the needs and comforts of her husband, grandma waiting on grandpa and me serving my husband his meals, piping hot and neatly arranged on his plate.

SO OK, I admit that I, too, am guilty of pampering and serving my husband.

"Want more juice?," I'll ask. "No, no, sit ... I'll get it for you," the wifey part of me tells him, while the liberated part adds, "Oh, and don't forget, it's your night to do the dishes ..."

So, as I watch the out-of-line man sip his drink, the wifey part of me understands. The liberated part of me only wants to fling a rubber slipper across the aisle.

Stuck in this give-and-take dilemma, this liberated/wifey woman doesn't know what to think.

The screech of a microphone stops my one-person debate, and the school principal takes her place.

Across the aisle, the out-of-line man repositions his chair. But wait. What happened to his cup? Why I care or why I bother, who knows, but soon I'm scanning the floor around him. I expect to find his cup crumpled and tossed under someone's chair, but it's not there.

Then I watch as the slender woman slips the flattened paper cup into the side pocket of her handbag with a sleight of hand rivaling that of Harry Houdini.

"Aww geez," I moan and wince.

I switch my attention to the straight back in front of me. I take deep, cleansing breaths, the kind they teach you in childbirth classes, and let my eyes wander up toward that poufed up mess of a hairdo.

Wishing I had a rubber slipper in one hand and a battery-powered hair clipper in the other, I sit pondering relationships, wifely duties and outdated hair.

I think of all the little things I do to make life easier for my husband. I picture the pile of clothes waiting to be ironed and make a quick list of what I'll be packing for home lunches tomorrow.

The microphone hums alive. "Welcome to the Third Grade Music Program. We hope you will enjoy this evening's performance."

Debra Evans is a wife, mother of two, secretary and writer.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses,
quirks and quandaries. If you have something to say, write it and
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