Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Ladies who Lunch

Because I decided to pursue the glamour profession that is public school teaching, I'm privy to a number of marvelous benefits that the rest of you peasants don't have. Among the highlights are:

1)Exposure to a wide variety of 19th century illnesses, and to all of the current ones, also.

2)Endless supplies of sparkly barrettes and Littlest Petshop figurines that I claim as contraband and hoarde jealously in my desk as if somehow, the plastic camel sitting next to my White-Out will ensure my survival and procreation of a new line of humans come the Great Day of Judgement.

3)Dry erase marker stains on my pants

4)25 minute lunches.

Since my classroom is located in the hinterlands of the school building, my 25 minute lunches are usually reduced to 15 minute lunches by the time I kick the last kid out of my classroom and racewalk to the teachers' lounge. You would think that because of our limited time to consume food, there would be very little talking and a lot of determined cud-chewing, but no...shit goes down there, folks. I don't lie.

I happen to have a lunch shift with a group of teachers my very favorite person in the world has aptly named The Wisterians. He chose this moniker not because they investigate horrific crimes in their idyllic neighborhood while managing to engage in ridiculous and often hilarious sexual and romantic hijinks themselves, but mostly because they shop at Talbots and really, really enjoy passing judgement on the world at large and especially on the teachers who aren't there to defend themselves. These are the women who sigh longingly about the day their husbands will allow them to quit teaching and become full-time Pilates instructors, and who hover over their yogurt cups and Diet Coke cans while the rest of us flabby, pathetic mortals try to hide the fact that we've actually brought food made of bread. Or meat. Or anything but Splenda.

Isn't it funny how hard a thoughtless comment can slap you down when you least expect it? I got a double whammy from the Wisterians today, and both comments happened within five minutes of the other, and I didn't even get that I was being judged until like four hours later when I was at home and I was unloading the dishwasher and thinking about it and suddenly exclaimed "Bitches!" as I was reaching up to put away a glass and my cats both looked at me and cocked an eyebrow and I think if the big one could've said "Language, please" he would've.

Wisterian Uno is a mother of one, makes sure we all know she weighs 105 pounds, and recently told us she was happy she got impregnated again because it gives her 9 months of absolution from being five pounds overweight and so an abomination in her husband's eyes. Rumor has it she spends two hours a day on the treadmill and does butt clenches while she grades papers at her desk. Apparently during her pregnancies she becomes diabetic, so as she was tearing into a rather humongous piece of "farewell to sugar" Reese's Pie (Teacher Appreciation Week...TOLD YOU we got perks) she leaned over to me and asked if I had any low-carb, low-sugar cookbooks I could loan her. I was happy to oblige and after she thanked me she said, "I knew I could ask you because you're always eating so healthfully." Then she looked me up and down and half-laughed with a, "Well, at least you TALK about being healthy." And I, being slow of wit, smiled like a moron and walked out of the room and mentally sorted through my diet cookbooks for one to bring back to her.

Wisterian Dos is like the Queen Mother of the Wisterian set and is notorious for her unadulterated, poison-dripping lack of tact and the backhanded compliments she bestows to everyone in her path. The favorite I've heard so far was a comment she made to a different pregnant teacher in our building when she said, "I bet it's great that you're a bigger woman, because when you start to show you won't have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe!" I usually try to avoid eye contact with her, but today I ended up at her table and while I was trying to eat without actually look like I was, you know, ingesting calories I felt her gaze on me and I looked up to see her considering my face thoughtfully.

"You know," her pinched, upper middle-class voice broke through the din of the lounge as everyone looked her way, "You remind me SO MUCH of that Sukie St. James on Gilmore Girls" I hadn't seen enough Gilmore Girls to know who Sukie was, so I strutted around school all day beaming because I thought she meant I was the witty and musically talented Asian one who's Rory's best friend in Star's Hollow. Or maybe, like, her brilliant and determined roommate who's dating that adorable George O'Malley-esque boy. But no...I reminded her SO MUCH of the either ginormously pregnant or morbidly obese chef who laughs a lot and is clumsy and waddles when she walks.

And suddenly I got it all over again. Being fat isn't just my business...it's apparently everyone's concern, and the fact that I'm not losing weight means I'm not only disappointing myself, but everyone else, too. But WHY is it okay? It's not like I walk around and remark on someone's emerging crow's feet or nasty dark roots...why is it that obesity is a matter of public record? For the most part, at least before it starts to become victorious, it's a difficult, painful, sometimes humiliating process...why does it need to be discussed and pointed out and remarked upon by the people who haven't been through it at all?

God, being fat sucks. Why couldn't I just have halitosis or a wicked case of scabes instead?


Jeni said...

Argh! Those woman are bitches!

My favorite was a comment from a woman who I call a friend, well, at least she hangs out with some of the women I'm friends with. For the record, she weighs probably 100 lbs.

I was talking about a workout I had done and she looked me up and down and said, with pity, "You know, I used to be chubby."

Sweet. So glad you got rid of that little problem. It must have been really hard for you.

Eh. Anyway, hang in there. :)

Christine said...

Hey - stumbled on your blog from a comment, etc - seems we are fighting the same fight and I wanted to keep an eye on you! Your blog is great! Keep up the good work.

Wendy said...

One of the things that I love about Gilmore Girls is that Sukie's weight is never an issue. Maybe it is in her head, but she doesn't appear to have any hangups about it and no one treats her like she is invisible. She just is. And that is great.

Hang in there. Maybe someday a confiscated puffy paint pen will explode in one of their faces and they will be stuck with permanent glitter ink on their nose for a year or two.

Jarrett Meyer said...

There are all sorts of bitches in the world. At least with the "honest" ones, you know where they stand. Bad people come in all shapes and sizes.

**Warning: expletive ahead!**

Fuck them. Be just as honest back with them. "That was an incredibly rude thing to say. I almost feel sorry for you. I am trying to do something about my weight. I don't know of any cookbooks that can fix a shitty personality."

You have to be losing weight for you, and not anyone else. If you do it for someone else, you will either fail outright, or you will succeed and eventually gain the weight back. It must be your time. Your reasons.

Or, if that doesn't make you feel better, tell those bitches that you have a surefire way of staying thin during pregnancy: Punch them in the face and break their jaw.

Lori said...

And, if you punch them in the jaw hard enough, they can keep their weight off while their mouths are wired shut.

Jeez, I love Talbots and these women ruin it for me.

I think (oooh, this is good!) what you ought to do is lend the Head Queen a book on bitches or backstabbers or something appropros but fake a cover on it.

(This book looks good for you to read, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't.)

As for the Sukie person, tell her that she reminds you of Emily Gilmore. Or Taylor.

I'm sorry you had to hear that. Any chance of getting their private addresses and signing them up for Jenny Craig? :-)

lukossmom said...

I wished you punched her. Seriously, people are assholes.

Luna Bella said...

What a witchy, horrible bunch of co-workers! I dream about looking them in the eye and calling them on it with a "Hm...What's your point?", and then grinning inwardly as they squirm and attempt to explain what they were trying to say. I have a friend who's a master at this--she just manages to look friendly and perplexed and as if she truly doesn't get what they mean.

Can I ever do this, though? No. I'm always just shocked wordless that someone would be so bitchy, so I just scurry away and comfort myself with visions of their teeth falling out and boils erupting all over their bodies.

I hear you, too, on your thoughts about the public nature of obesity and weight loss. It makes everything so complicated and so fraught with extra crap.

A Happy Wife said...

Wonderful post! Years ago I worked in a before and after school program in a local elementary school. We prepared our snacks in the teacher's lounge and there was a group of "Wisterians" that would weekly meet in the lounge to share a yogurt and crystal light while eviscerating any coworkers that didn't happen to be in the room. They were pure evil from the tips of their Rachel haircuts to their perfectly manicured pink toenails.

You are a more open hearted person than I. I would have felt slighted from the moment I was asked for a low cal cookbook. My little brain would have been been seething that she had the nerve to insinuate I might NEED a low cal cookbook!:) Should have pushed her face in her Reese's Pie.

BigAssBelle said...

oh erin, FUCK THESE BITCHES!!!! fuck them. i want to kick their collective asses. what a bunch of evil sows.

have you ever just said politely, and in your best professional teacher-like tone, "why don't you go fuck yourself, you cocksucking bitch?"

please, pretty please?