I often wonder how other women learn the secret rules and rituals that I never seem to grasp. How do they know what colors are in fashion this season? How do they know what hairstyles make them look hip and up to date? Are there secret meetings in an undisclosed location? Meetings to which I am never invited?
For most of my life I failed to even wonder about these questions, but at some point in my late thirties I came to the realization that other women knew things that I just didn’t seem to know. It was a bit disconcerting, a bit alarming, but I wasn’t sure how to fix the problem.
Most of the time I can just shrug it off. I mean, so what if it took me a year to recognize that scarves were the height of fashion and another year to collect a group of them and learn how to wrap/tie/arrange them. Who cares that just when I learned how to wear a scarf and arranged them by color in my closet, scarves fell way out of fashion. It only took me a half a school year to wonder why no one else was quite as scarf swaddled as I was.
I have accepted my fashion failures, but there are other, more important skills that so many other women seem to have learned without me, too.
I don’t know how to pick out curtains. Especially if I want them to match my furniture or hang from attractive curtain rods. When it is time to paint the rooms of my house, I have no idea what colors are popular. I don’t feel the shifts when furniture styles come and go. Even garden favorites seem to change from year to year. How do others KNOW these things?
I never learned to wrap a darling gift with matching bows, even though my mother and both sisters can do it. I never learned to make gracious comments in social situations. I just never did.
As I stand in a group of colleagues or friends, I am aware that I don’t have the right jewelry or phone or shoes or purse. I haven’t been watching the right TV shows or listening to the latest music. I have missed bits of gossip, changes in the curriculum, updates on marriages, engagements, pregnancies, retirements and promotions. I don’t know the ongoing jokes.
Some day I am going to get some answers. I’m going to figure out where and when they all meet and swap secret handshakes and decide what to keep and what to throw away. Someday I am going to walk right up to one of my friends in her silver bangle bracelets and knee length pencil skirt. I am going to admit my cluelessness and just out and out ask for some help.
“So”, I will say casually. “What’s the password?”