The moment I crammed my slightly wrinkled, vaguely damp, still-sort-of-smelling-like-the-airplane sweatshirt into my purse for the evening, I sensed the inevitability of this moment: Standing in front of a wedding cake, taking a photograph for nostalgic posterity, having succumbed to the late-night chill and wearing said hoodie over a perfectly respectable dress, while an older woman, clearly seated in a warmer area, mad dogged me for my total disregard for decorum, respect, and looking pretty at the expense of comfort. Mad dogged by a fifty-year-old. I mean, glared at in a way I haven’t experienced since my high school hallways. Don’t women just, I don’t know, mellow out at a certain point?
For the most part, I’ve been spared the cattiness my kind is supposedly plagued by, maybe because I gravitate towards dudes for that very reason or that most of my girlfriends have very dude-like qualities to them—namely in that they are drama free, secure in themselves, and supportive of one another. If my group of lady friends were part of the Greek system, we’d be the fraternity throwing parties for each other down the street, not the sorority full of chicks tearing out each other’s hair and stealing boyfriends. Because, hey, we’re all people, and we’re all in this together.
But sometimes I forget that not every woman operates on this same system. There are jealousies at play, judgments to be made, relationships to squander for the sake of misguided ambitions. And I suppose I understand that when we’re all of a certain, less secure age, when we’re theoretically battling for our place in life, career, and love (which some might mistakenly see as a competitive battle against one another), but I had always assumed that the passing years brought with it understanding, kindness, a general mushiness of body and spirit. As I field the dagger-like blades of this woman’s stare cutting through me, utterly lacking in humor or sisterly camaraderie, I see that I have been mistaken.
I apologized for blocking her view of the cake and considered explaining to her that I’ve been in the throes of a New York winter for the last five months and had absolutely no concept of packing for warmer climates, that I brought this rather derelict sweater with me as a last resort, that if they had perhaps placed me at a table not on the grass, where it was easily 15 degrees colder than the tables nearer the house, I would not have needed bother with this rag. But I withhold. It wouldn’t really matter. That wasn’t what this was about anyway.