Some of you who haven’t known me very long may be shocked to hear this, but I actually have a Bachelor’s degree in biology from a Seven Sisters School. That’s the Ivy League of Women’s Colleges, for those who might not know. But don’t let me catch you calling it a Girls’ School. One of my dear Alma Mater's mottos (we have several) is: “We're not a girls’ school without men; we're a Women’s College without boys.” Yep. And I graduated with Honors, too. That’s right. I’m a smaht, edjoo-cated Feminist-with-a-capital-F. And here you thought all I had going for me was She-Hulk-itude.
My focus was in ethology, which is a fancy word for animal behavior – and which probably explains why I’m such a goddamn Jedi Knight in social situations. The plan was to move to Kilimanjaro and follow Dian Fossey’s footsteps – except, you know, without the crazy-going and the death-by-flaying thing. Instead, I moved to Maine and work at Bentley’s. So at least I’ve put all that Ivy-riddled education to good use in my chosen field, even if the jury is still out on the crazy and the death.
Anyway, one thing I remember learning about mating rituals back then (and I do remember other things besides that, so shut up) is that in any species, whichever gender looks fancier and fights more, it’s the other one that’s got all the control. It’s called sexual selection, and almost always the females wear the pants. The peacock knocks himself out lugging that tail around because it’s the peahen who gets to pick and choose. The female cardinal is brown because she doesn’t have to bother. And that 8-point rack you’re so proud of on your wall is just some buck’s desperate plea for a doe – any doe – to give him the time of day.
But folks got all that shit backwards here in Maine.
Not about the looking-fancier. I mean, it’s common everywhere among the human species to see girls all gussied up and guys in t-shirts, or naked, or whatever. But usually, it’s the ball-bearers who do all the throwing-down.
Or not at the Hole, anyway.
In my eighteen months as a Participant Observer—
Okay. “Participant observer” is not a biology term. But I figure since I’m braggin’ on my Lady Learnin’, I might’s’well work in a mention of the Sociology minor, too. Also? Double minor: Spanish lit. ¿¡Que pasa!?
Anyway, in my year and a half down the Hole I have seen exactly zero violent exchanges perpetrated by two men. There has been the occasional married-couple-getting-cranky moment, but in the few of those I’ve seen, it’s mostly s little shouting and some pouting and then kissing and making-up.
But the girlfights?
I don’t think these girls understand the concept of “whichever gender fights more, it’s the other one that’s got all the control.” And I don’t care how old they are: when they fight, they’re Girls. And not just because of the hair-pulling and the bitch-slapping and the spitting-in-the-eye. I mean, I suppose it’s possible that if I ever saw a solid head-butt or a right-hook expertly-landed, I’d change my mind. But I don’t think so.
Take this one night, for example – a night that has since come to be known around these parts as Catfight Night at the OK Corral. There were three of ‘em, almost at the same time, and the only one that didn’t come to fisticuffs (or slapticuffs, as it were) was the one that involved me. I’m a goddamn Jedi Knight, remember? When some Girl sets out to provoke me, I just put all my socio-biological Seven-Sisterhood to use, invoke the Female Force, and rise above. Which in this case means when she called me a cheater and stole the 8-ball off the table, I didn’t skip a beat. I just said “You better watch out, Kid,” which is who I was actually playing at the time. “Apparently, I cheat.” Then I spotted the 9-ball instead of the 8 and kept on shooting. She actually ran to the bartender to tattle on us. Bartender ignored her. Game, set, match.
Okay, so that wasn’t a real mating-ritual kind of girlfight (or girl-non-fight, as it were), because it wasn’t about a boy. That girl was just drunk and pissed off that the Kid and I were making her wait her turn to play. But the next one, with the bloodshed in the bathroom, was. Four bouncers and seven random strangers pulling two girls off each other. Because, I don’t know, one of ‘em looked sideways at the other’s man or some dumbass, “What's your problem!?” shit like that. They were actually held, panting, with their arms behind their backs until they calmed down, and then lunged at one another again, “Dynasty”-style, as soon as they were deemed calm enough to be released. The third chick-bout that night happened so fast I didn’t even see it, but the Kid says it was perfectly justified: this one kissed that one’s husband; that one knocked this one off the barstool. Bam. Game over. Set and match.
There have been plenty of others. So many, I can’t even remember any more. So many, in fact, that -- what with the Kid and his canine tendencies -- I suppose it was just a matter of time until a real Girl finally came gunning for me.
What happened was, I was shooting pool a couple Friday nights ago when the Kid walked in the door with someone else. He does this sometimes, and when he does, I let him take the lead. Because what he and I are doing has nothing to do with them, and as I keep reminding him: I’m not a Girl. So if he acts like he knows who I am when he’s with them, then I know who he is, too. And if he doesn’t, then neither do I. This time he didn’t, so I went about my night, ignoring them both...
Until she kicked the door of bathroom stall I was in and shouted “Yo! Blondie! What’s your name?”
Well, I didn’t know what this Girl knew about me – the Kid’s a goddamn river in Egypt when it comes to copping to this shit. So I introduced myself and asked if there was something she wanted to talk to me about. But when her answer to that question was “What’s your problem!?,” I said “Nothing, hon,” and left.
The bathroom, that is. Not the bar. I may have had no intention of engaging with this Girl, but neither was I going to let her think she could chase me out of my own Hole.
After that, she started following me around. Buying me drinks, calling me Blondie, bumming cigarettes from other people every time I went out for a smoke. Just generally being there, wherever I was. I couldn’t shake her. Finally I went out to the car to give myself break, called Red and blew off a little steam, and when I hung up, the Girl was waiting for me at the picnic table. So I walked over to her, sat down, and had a Little Talk.
Our conversation somehow made her feel she had to prove herself even more, so I spent the rest of the night Jedi-deflecting. Metaphorically bobbing and weaving. Changing the subject, making jokes at my own expense, telling her I actually like her when the truth is I actually like the Kid a little less if he thinks a Girl like this is cool. For the next three hours, she refused to give me a moment's rest. Until finally, when she tailed me through the parking lot at closing time, I turned around and kissed her on the lips. That shut her up.
And yes, I learned that shit at Women’s College, too.
But the kicker -- the full-on, wait-for-it, oh-my-god-I-don't-believe-it punchline -- is that, after all of that: I’m the one who went home with the Kid.
So, ladies: the moral of the story – which we should all please keep in mind at the closing party Saturday – is that the ones swinging the punches are never the ones in control.
And a real Woman doesn’t have to fight a Girl to win.