All Women's Talk

Things That Are Not Wrong with Me 1-3. 1. Head L...

By Jen

Things that are not wrong with me, 1-3.

1 Head Lice. Someone Wrote in Guessing That My Mystery Affliction is Head Lice. Which It is Not

Not that I don't expect to get head lice at some point, given what I know about kids and schools. But I would not let head lice keep me from my twentieth high school reunion and from Book Expo. In fact, I think it would actually add to my fun at both occasions, as I can think of several attendees who I'd make it a point to hug lingeringly.

[Related funny story about parasites: some years back, my Mom was moving, she was cleaning out the house, and, in the guest room dresser drawer, she came upon a small brown bottle with a prescription label affixed to the front.

"What's this?" she asked her partner, who is a nurse.

Clair glanced at the bottle.

"It's for crabs," she said.

"Oh, don't be silly," said my mother.

"Crabs," Clair repeated.

"Oh, no," said my mother. "I don't believe it."

It's one of the beautiful things about my Mom: she always believes the best about her kids, even in the face of hard physical evidence to the contrary.

The trouble was, the prescription was made out to "J. Weiner," which could have been me, or either of my younger brothers, both of whom had much more fun in college than I did. Neither one of them has 'fessed up to the affliction, and as for me, my Mom never even asked. Which hurts, oddly enough.]

But I digress.

Number two thing I don't have: Rickets. Or scurvy. Or hot dog fingers.

Thing Number Three: Pinworms. Tape worms. Any kind of worm at all.

Seriously, this is a perfectly normal condition, or so I am told, and all will be revealed eventually.

In other news, Erica Jong (remember her?), thinks that ghetto-ized girlie writers should rise up, slip the surly bonds of genre, and Take Back the Night. Or the bookstore. Or something.

"Critics have trouble taking fiction by women seriously unless they represent some distant political struggle or chic ethnicity (Arundhati Roy, Nadine Gordimer and Kiran Desai come to mind). Of course, there are exceptions, like Annie Proulx and Andrea Barrett. But they tend to write about "male" subjects: ships, cowboys, accordions. There's Pat Barker, who gained the most respect when she began to write about war. Margaret Atwood, who is Canadian and therefore gets a longer leash than most North American writers. And Isabel Allende, a wonderful writer, who has become our token South American female.

But deep down, the same old prejudice prevails. War matters; love does not. Women are destined to be undervalued as long as we write about love. To be generous, let's say the prejudice is unconscious. If Jane Austen were writing today, she'd probably meet the same fate and wind up in the chick lit section. Charlotte Bront

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