Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Marcia Has a Point
I really was (and still am) that girl who wants to be loved for her brain and not her body. The cats and dog think this is a silly reason to be loved, of course. After all, a warm human is just the thing on a cool night, just like the application of a 15-lb. feline poultice is an excellent cure for a knee addled by arthritis or a mild chest cold among the non-allergic. There’s plenty of me to love, from the cats’ and dog’s points of view. I’m the cuddly type, especially for creatures with a couple of eyes and a nose.
Mother despaired of this trait in me when we wandered into a mall petshop and I nearly melted with joy as a Pomeranian puppy happily gnawed on my finger.
“If the boys knew that’s all it took, you’d be the most popular girl in town,” my mother quipped in an unusual display of humor about sexuality. That was The Topic Never to Be Discussed.
“Yeah,” I gushed in my usual display of searing intelligence, and let the widdle cute-ums gum away for a while longer. I was an easy mark for the finger chomp thing, at least amidst the small and furry types. I did of course have my standards for suitors of the human variety, but at that moment I couldn’t think of any. I was helpless in the jaws of love, if only puppy love.
No, I wanted to be loved for my brains, specifically my left brain. After all, that’s what my mother taught me was the thing that lasted, beauty being skin deep. I knew I had some hurdles to overcome. After all, I’m blonde. Yes, yes, straight off the drugstore shelf, but I was originally blonde before the curse of the dishwater attacked me and then later this funny patriotic stars-and-stripes thing I have with my nearly-whites coming in. A lovely woman in an elevator with extraordinary hair with its natural lightning-lightening told me we call it the “Crown of Wisdom.” There ya’ go. Even my hair is trying to enhance my brains. They have to be in there somewhere, right?
I spent a good deal of my youth trying to draw guys’ eyes away from my undeniably ample chest, undeniably ample even when the rest of me was, uh, more streamlined than the current silken layered, luscious, soft-hearted creature you may know me as now.
“Yoo-hoo,” I would bend my head, smile and wave. “I’m up here.” Subtle, eh? C’mon, guys, there’s a time and place for everything and I was trying to have a conversation here. Back then, apparently so were they, but it wasn’t exactly with my mind. I would laugh. I would get angry. I would try to analyze it. I would counteract the effect with fashion disguises. I would assume The Tone of the cold scold. I would point and laugh. But the fact was, I just wanted to exchange some intelligence.
Per my loving husband, that seems to be the fatal flaw, the presumption that a hetero guy when presented with the presence of a biological reminder of primitive urges can actually be considered intelligent. Well, zeesh, I seem to be able to speak to people in spite of their long, dark eyelashes or broad chests or well-muscled thighs or even a tight-fitting wardrobe. Viva la difference, they say. Maybe I should have had that Pomeranian chomp a little more often to remind me how I can melt into a puddle of unintelligent ooze, spewing baby-talk to a creature that does not speak my language.
Still, we all manage to get our work done somehow and I can still point out a logical flaw in a computer or business solution now and again and pat myself on my back for not thinking of kittens or baby turtles at the critical moment. And, every once in a while, I like to get peer recognition for it. The words I long to hear are, “Marcia has a point.” It’s that joyous moment when I get some kind of feedback that I made sense, that it may have added to the conversation and moved us all a step closer to solving the whatever- it-is we are working on.
My favorite work moment like this happened a few years ago at a company that will remain unnamed.
I was being screamed at by people who were frantic to solve a customer service problem that was, in their eyes, a technical issue that I was being “stubborn” about.
“Unfortunately,” I explained for the third? fourth? time, “the system requires that the user sign on with their Social Security Number.” Note: this was a few years ago for all of you who just suddenly got bug-eyed at the violation of privacy and use of personal, non-public information that could be snatched by identity thieves. The system has since been remediated, reformed, rehabilitated and repentant about the requirement and has an alternative solution. But, as I say, this conversation was before that.
“But people in the Bahamas don’t HAVE a Social Security Number!” the little darlings screamed at me. This conversation was in a large meeting, well-attended with many otherwise intelligent creatures who were all tired, urgent, frustrated and ready to strangle me.
“OK, you could get some numbers for these folks that aren’t really Social Security Numbers and use those, but you would need to make sure each of them knew their number. Don’t Bahamians have some kind of number?” I wasn’t melting under the pressure, but I was trying to think outside the box. That’s the box that the magician sticks knives into while the girl inside keeps smiling, that box.
“Wait,” logic overtook me. “Isn’t this supposed to be a U.S. domestic site only? What are Bahamians doing trying to sign on in the first place?” And then, the kicker, maybe my favorite sentence of the year, “You folks do realize, don’t you, that the Bahamas are not part of the United States.”
A hush fell over the large crowd of urgent, tired, intelligent, angry people. A small voice in the back, like a child pointing at the nude emperor with the Ace of Swords, the sword of truth, rang out just loudly enough for everyone to hear.
“Marcia has a point.”
My ears turned red. I tilted my head back. I breathed deeply. Finally!
They all agreed, scuttled to fix their business, not computer problem and I was released from torture. I got my B.A. in English and my B.S. in Applied Computer Science for a little geography lesson that changed a business direction away from potentially larger business issues towards a solution.
The meeting was over and I smiled down at my chest. “Lefty rides again, eh, girls?”