Monday, I came across this piece on my friend Caroline’s Facebook wall: “An Ode To the Women Who are Too Much” written by Steve Wiens. I imagine it will make the rounds on all social media for its brilliant insight and for the fact that it was written by a guy.
I can still see the image of my five-year-old self, dressed in itchy tights and a high-collared dress for an event long since forgotten. I had somehow managed to smuggle a plastic holster with two toy guns out of the house so that when I was adult-party bored, I could lift up my dress and show the crowd of relatives how to gain the attention and respect I deserved. My father, gone almost twenty years now, loved retelling that story; proudly exclaiming that I was born to have an audience. My mother didn’t like it at all. Women have their place, was her counter argument, particularly Southern women. And that place had no room for my bad-girl behavior.
“Let Mimi be Mimi,” was one of the constant messages my gentle father would use to pacify my mother when I did something that broke the definitions of how a girl, young woman and finally an adult woman should act. During my junior high school years, I was invited to play tennis with a very attractive boy named Chuck. I believe it qualified as my first date. My mother gave me this advice before Chuck and his father picked me up: “Try not to beat him,” she said kindly.
For the first hour on that court, I could hear Mom’s voice. I loosened up on my grip, took a few shots at the net and served so softly that Chuck could have taken a trip to the water fountain, come back to the court and still returned the ball. After the first hour, the reflex that was nagging at the very core of my 13-year-old self popped out like a giant tiger. We were into our second game and I was losing. Something inside me snapped. I drove the ball so hard and precisely that it flew by Chuck at lightening speed and landed inside the court. I then served like a champion and was on the precipice of winning the match, when the weight of my mother’s words crept back into my brain. I really wanted him to like me and hoped he would be my first boyfriend. I had no choice; I had to back down.I did not realize that I was being watched. Chuck and I were enjoying a cold drink after the game when his father sat down and suggested that I had let Chuck win. He asked me why and I froze. My face turned red. I pleaded innocent to his charges, but the damage was done. I never went on another date with Chuck again.
Steve Weins’ blog post celebrates women who are loud and opinionated. In other words, “too much like a guy.” I have been called many similar adjectives in my 53 years. I am a brash, competitive, uncompromising, boisterous, trash-talking girl who loves to drink tequila, eat cheeseburgers and Cool Ranch Doritos and talk with her hands. I will kick anyone’s ass who dares me (both male or female) on a spin bike, in a road race or in a good game of Rummikub. I love bathroom humor and bars that smell like smoke and sweat. I adore twenty-dollar concerts where people spill drinks on one another and dance with strangers. I love being the last one to leave a friend’s house when they are half asleep on the couch.
Best of all, I surround myself with girlfriends who are “too much” because they are the ones that unabashedly give the best of themselves. I hang with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get crew. They are fiercely loyal, brutally honest and make me laugh until I have to catch my breath. I love them for their nonjudgmental attitudes and thick skins. They are rarely offended by comments (mainly mine) that others would deem inappropriate, celebrate my victories and kick the shit out of my defeats. I have sifted through a lifetime of women to find these gems and I will never ever tell them that they are too much.
The next time someone says that you are being too loud, or saying something inappropriate, just remember you are not alone. There is a strong community of us “too muchers” out there. In the words of Gaga, baby we were born this way.