I ordered whiskey on the rocks and a steak cooked rare, bloody. ”But we didn’t talk about space travel, I reasoned. We talked about food, sleep, weather, what linguists call phatic talk, talk that’s mood-calibration, not information. Female doctors, executives and pilots aren’t rare now.
But they’re not often married to men whose careers have less stature.
I grew up in a town known for hunting, fishing, bars, strip joints—even a house of ill repute, until it burned to the ground when, according to town gossip, a prostitute tried to make a grilled sandwich on a steam iron.
It was like the setting for “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” only not suspenseful.
An acquaintance convinced her friend, a man, and me, a woman, that we should meet.
If I’d seen him incompletely, he’d objectified me too, socio-economically: He saw my womanhood as so earthy it literally seized up his heart. My date was vegan, but he’d picked out a restaurant that wasn’t—out of courtesy, hospitality, or there weren’t vegan restaurants back then. My date ordered pasta, no sauce; I was too hungry to tell him that pasta contains eggs. We went back to his house where, in the fireplace, he lit wadded-up newspapers under clippings from hedges he’d trimmed that day. He found this interesting, or alluring, because he asked me to spend the night. I’d arranged for a cord of wood to be delivered the next day.You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices.To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s App Choices app here.Some women navigated this impasse better than I did. I’d mention work, and my then-boyfriend would flash a silent, terrified smile. My second language was Old English, virtually foreign now, rife with bodies, weapons, food, exile.If someone at work asked me about my weekend, I smiled silently too. Buying a house in the woods and dating men who lived in the woods was no doubt a way of alleviating impostor syndrome, chronic worries I’d forget which Shakespeare play I’d just quoted, or that I’d be forced to say a word or phrase I’d read but never heard: "fin de siècle" or "deus ex machina" or "ribald."Then I met a man at a conference who’d studied Latin at top-tier schools. He liked that I was wisecracking and “sexually unapologetic.” He went home and told his girlfriend he loved me, then called daily.Or at least I wondered if I’d paid too steep a price. Both asked me to break up with the other one, to choose, and I got mad, saying: OK, but neither of you will make me happy alone.