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Monday, June 19, 2006

The other half

“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” ~Harper Lee


It’s how one would expect it to be. ‘They’, with their 1.5 million dollar homes, compulsively clad in J. Jill and Lacoste. The women debate the possibilities of National Cathedral versus Sidwell and the men discuss Democratic politics and the green at some exclusive golf course in
Chevy Chase. They all drive luxury vehicles while their 12 year old daughters compare Tiffany’s bracelets and discuss summer vacations to London.


Then there’s me. Compulsively clad in champion shorts and a St. Lawrence t-shirt. The butt still wet from time at the pool. I rolled in looking like the help and that’s exactly how I felt. I hadn’t had a pedicure in ages due to a hectic schedule. I wasn’t wearing jewelry because of the aforementioned pool time (pearls and chlorine do not mix). Then I was forced to attend a garden party at some upper
NW DC proper home with the aforementioned lot of people. It’s not exactly the most diverse neighborhood in the city.


Of course I don’t know exactly what they may have thought about me upon my arrival. But I know that I was sweaty and dressed in my pseudo-gym clothes and wholly unprepared for such a thing. I felt like I was being looked upon with pity and that they thought that I would only assume Caravaggio was some sort of venereal disease.


I hate the assumptions that people may (or hell, may not) get when they see me under dressed. Not to mention that I actually saw someone at this party who I had worked with before and I knew I would be working with again in just a few short months. It’s not like I try to assimilate or anything, but I know when to wear my Polo and carry a Coach bag and when to wear my mesh shorts. They assume things just by looking at me, because that’s human nature; to judge. They didn’t know that I went to American, that I’ve lived abroad and that I have a real job and that maybe I babysit because I have a lifestyle that I became accustomed to and I’d like to keep that lifestyle.


Anyway, people judge and when you show up looking like hell to a garden party in an affluent neighborhood, trailing behind the perfect little family (who will be sending their child to Sidwell), then you feel like shit and like the help. It’s like being punched in the gut and the entire ride home I spent on the verge of tears.


It hurts. And it’s just another reason go get home and enjoy my wine. Sweet, sweet wine.

11 Comments:

Anonymous jonniker said...

I know this doesn't really help, but fuck 'em. Seriously.

I got a big lesson in the 'people aren't always what they seem' department when I quit my fancy, serious job for a floofy, admin-y one so I could find a life and write a book. They mostly think I'm probably dumb, and that this is the best I can do and I certainly am not worthy of discussing the news, or politics or sports.

But anyway, I guess the thing is that situations like that help us find our identity - find what we really *are* outside of our jobs, our circumstances, our odd ways to make ends meet.

I also learned that people who aren't willing to see people beyond those circumstances - beyond the mesh shorts, lame jobs and bad hair days - aren't worth a second of your time.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Whinger said...

The real question is if your friends would have a similar reaction if you showed up wearing something not-quite-right.

No? They'd just be thrilled to see you?

Well then you're doing everything correctly.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

I forgot to mention that this garden party, was at the house of the neighbor's of the people I was sitting for. Thus the 'help' feeling.

I think I'm also reacting this way because the other two families that I sit for, I know very well. One is like a friend (Amalah) and the other is like my second mother. They both know that babysitting isn't the be all end all of my life and that I enjoy wine, coach bags, politics and writing. I felt insecure because the people I had been sitting for, didn't really know much about me and the father was shocked when he found out I had worked with one of his neighbors on a very large campaign.

Anyway, this was yesterday. And I called the mother about babysitting for next weekend and conveyed my concerns. She was wholly apologetic and could understand my feelings of looking like crap and that I have to look at least somewhat respectable when out and about, due to things outside of babysitting.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous boozie said...

Completely OT, I think you were in my dream again last night. Get out of my dreams and into my car!

1:17 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Ooh, brings back memories - I know that feeling well, but instead the kids are still young, and go to St. Pat's, although there's no doubt that the boy will go to St. Alban's, and yes yes yes I used to bring them to the pool at that elite country club in Chevy Chase. And lots of Filipinas do work only as hired help in this area of town - educated schmeducated...

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Jurgen Nation said...

You're so much better than any amount of money, HB.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous jonniker said...

I was thinking about this more today, as the feeling is so familiar. I guess the only thing I would consider is to ask yourself why you care what they think of you. I'm not asking you to be judgy or weird or annoying, and you do NOT have to tell us at all, as it is none of our business, but maybe it might help you to really ask, and figure out why.

Because I'll bet when you do, it won't matter anymore as much, because in that context, what they think really doesn't matter. None of us are what we seem. Maybe some of those wives were wondering why they're in this situation where everyone simply thinks they are merely a wife, a mother, a society wife. When really all they want is to be a painter or a writer or a something else.

None of us are really what we seem, I guess. Remember that.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Wry Bri said...

The only thing better about having to deal with people who have no idea... is watching it dawn on them later on... "Oh sh*t. I had no idea."

And like wine, it takes a bit of time.

In the meantime, tho, it can hurt. People can be so cripplingly small.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Dagny said...

Been in that kind of situation before. I hate that feeling. Luckily I no longer care these days. I just say, "Let them whisper."

10:45 PM  
Blogger Floyd said...

Ummm...I know I just met you (i.e. I delurked) but would you like me to go kick a little ass for you? Nothing like a little ass-whooping to stir up fun at a garden party.

Perhaps next party. I'm available for bar mitvahs and funerals (though I have a special place in my heart for bridal showers where I got the same snotty reception for wearing non-designer dress once).

3:31 PM  
Blogger jackt said...

I always dress like a slob. O wait- that doesn't count. I am one. :) Pretentious people suck. I try to stay away from them.

2:02 AM  

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