I grew up primarily with my father, and if he thought there was anything I couldn't do, he failed to ever mention that. As a result, it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized sexism was alive and well in some quarters. Truthfully, I'm not much of a feminist, but I do believe in Gender Equality as a way of life. Having all choices available to both genders. Equal pay for equal work. Not subscribing to traditional gender roles for society as a whole. I don't think it particularly matters what it is you choose to do, but having the choices is key.
Which leads me to my driveway, naturally. When we bought this house, with its three car garage, we looked forward to the snowy months when we would no longer be scraping cars in the early morning hours. We failed to factor in that, instead, we'd be shoveling the driveway. It was a trade-off and one well worth it. Shoveling snow is good cardiovascular exercise, whereas scraping off a car involves huddling miserably in the snow.
When we moved here, the people who owned this house before us gave us a tutorial on the pool, as well as telling me about our next door neighbors on both sides. Francine (not her real name), my neighbor to the East, is a widow. She's somewhere around seventy-five-years-old and her husband had died not long after they had moved in.
"We take care of her walks and drive for her when it snows," the former owner informed me, "maybe your husband or son could continue the tradition?"
I managed not to shoot the man a disgusted glare. In this household, I'm the one most likely to be home during the day. I'm the one most likely to be wielding a snow shovel. Hey, I work out. Lift with your legs, and all that. Goooooo endorphins.
"Sure, we can take care of that," was all I said in reply. I was rather proud of the amount of restraint I had shown. Normally I'd read someone the riot act over such an assumption, or at least let them know what was what. Why, I must be mellowing, I thought, with a self-congratulatory smile.
Today as the snow falls heavily, I've been outside shoveling on three occasions. My son is now home, and he'll be taking over, because this much snow calls for teamwork. On my second shoveling I began tackling Francine's walk.
The truth is, I've never really spoken to Francine much. She's a little bit hard of hearing, and will tell you that as soon as you meet. For the most part I wave heartily in her direction, rather than discuss things at a shout. As I made my way to her driveway, Francine popped out of her garage, snow shovel in hand.
"I've got this," she said, in a loud, cheery voice. Gesturing towards the snow with her shovel.
"Are you sure?" I asked in the accustomed increased volume.
"Oh yes! It's good training for my skiing, you know," Francine stooped to begin shoveling and therefore missed the startled look on my face. "We call it the Over the Hill Club. Isn't that great?" I allowed as how that was indeed, great. "I didn't ski when I was younger, but after my husband died, I didn't have a running partner any longer, so I took that up."
Well this was becoming mortifying.
"I'm sorry, David told me you'd need me to take care of your walk and drive." I said, feeling my already pink-face beginning to flush with embarrassment. I'm sure people in the next county must have heard me, as I might have been overcompensating to distract from how flustered I was.
"Oh him," Francine laughed. "He meant well, God love him, but between you and me? He was a bit of sexist."
I laughed ruefully and bid my very fit, very capable neighbor a good day.
The phone was ringing when I walked through the door, and it was my husband telling me he'd soon be home.
"What are you doing?" He asked.
For a moment I considered saying, "Being thoughtlessly ageist and sexist, what are you up to?" but instead I told him that I was making chicken and dumplings for dinner. Even if Crow Pie might have been more fitting.
I set to work chopping some vegetables and couldn't help but laugh. David might have been a bit of a sexist, but I think I accidentally won the 'ism trophy for the day.
After all, in one fell blow, I combined ageism and sexism. Well, I suppose the only way to work on ones faults is to go ahead and recognize them. Admitting them to the internet at large probably is a fitting enough penance.