I Will Not Pretend; I Will Not Put on a Smile

I wasn’t going to blog about this. I talked about it on Twitter; I talked about it on Facebook; I talked about it in real life to pretty much everyone I’ve encountered over the past couple of days. But I am really kind of pissed off. And it’s Sunday, and what the hell else am I going to talk about, the fact that I grocery shopped today? The fact that as soon as I’m done blogging, I’m going to read the paper and watch television in a happy lazy Sunday haze?

And I know, you probably are going to read this and think, this isn’t funny! Amy’s not funny! What the hell? I AM HERE FOR THE FUNNINESS. OK. Well, listen. Sometimes? I am not funny. Sometimes I am ROYALLY PISSED OFF. Deal with it, goober. I’ll dance for your enjoyment tomorrow.

This week, I went to see a play that four of my friends were in. They’ve moved from a crappy little theater that echoed when they walked and made the props on the stage jiggle and the building was shared with a bunch of children’s gymnastic groups so you’d constantly hear children screaming and running in the halls like little hooligans when the play was in a serious scene and it was very distracting to a lovely theater on the campus of one of our local colleges. They were able to have a real cast and a real set for the first time. The play had missteps, sure, but overall, it was just joyous and loud and fun and they’d put a hell of a lot of work into it. I was so happy for them. I was so proud of them. And it was a comedy, too, so I laughed, when appropriate. I went alone, as I do for most things, and very few people attended the show, so I had a whole row of seats to myself, with two people sitting ahead of me and to my left and a group of three sitting behind me, two rows behind. I watched and I laughed and I clapped and I had a very enjoyable first act.

When the lights came up for intermission, I was waiting to leave go into the lobby and the people behind me were talking. “Girl by herself ahead of us,” I heard. “Embarrassing,” I heard. “Too loud,” I heard. “”Fat girl with the annoying laugh,” I heard. Then they laughed – the mean troll-like laughter that haunts my dreams from high school.

At first, the high-school me wanted to run and hide and go home. Because that’s what I used to do – back down. Hide in a corner with a book. Not do anything. Not say anything. Let people walk the hell all over me. But I’m not that girl anymore. I’m a woman now. And I’m very often pissed. I’m fueled by a fiery rage pretty much every waking hour.

They saw me walking past them and immediately stopped talking and averted their eyes. I said, “Can you imagine saying something like that about someone? Being that judgmental? What kind of person would do that, I wonder?” And walked out of the theater. Was it embarrassing? Yes. Could it have been worded better? Probably. Was it also a little exhilarating? Yes, yes it was. 

Here’s the thing. I am a huge presence. No, that’s not a fat joke. Although, I’m allowed to make them, but you sure as hell aren’t. Who do you think you are? Seriously? It’s 2011 and you’re going to make a fat joke? Wow. Original! I can come up with about fifteen comebacks that are a lot more cutting than talking about your weight, and I can do that half-asleep, with most of my mind taken up by more important things. No, not weight-wise. I’m not “fat.” I’m not thin, either. I’m somewhere in the middle, and screw you very much for that comment, because the last thing I need is your judgement on my weight issues, not like I’ve had to deal with those my entire life. I am a huge presence life-wise. I’m not a shrinking violet. There are not many times in my life that people haven’t known I’ve entered a room. I’m not quiet. I’m not polite. I’m not dainty like a goddamn Spode china teacup with a little gold rim.

I have weight and heft. My thoughts matter. I talk and laugh and cry like I mean it. I don’t say things I don’t mean; I don’t do things I don’t mean; I am a fiercely loyal friend, once I love you, and would do anything for you if you asked. I’m loud. I’m obnoxious. I’m bossy. I’m smarter than most people and I’m not shy about it. I get shit DONE. I’m a bitch. I’m organized. I’m stubborn. I’m proud. I’m strong. I’m a fighter. I’m opinionated. I’m vulgar. I’ve been through more shit in my life than most of you can even imagine and I’m still goddamn here. I use a LOT OF CAPS and a lot of italics and a lot! of! exclamation points! I think every story is better with a little exaggeration thrown in, as a garnish. I don’t deal well with rejection or betrayal. I do everything ferociously. I am a goddess, and I am ravenous and I am as often deliriously happy as I am furious. I think anything that’s worth doing is worth doing passionately. I refuse to be a spectator in my own life.

Don’t tell me to be quiet. Don’t try to silence me. Don’t try to minimize me with your words or your laughter. Better people than you have tried, and have failed. You’ll just be one in a long line of people who have counted me out and have been wrong. I wasn’t laughing loudly enough to be disruptive. I wasn’t being rude. I wasn’t making it so the people around me couldn’t hear the show. I was enjoying myself, and I was showing my appreciation to the cast and crew. Did seeing a woman alone having a good time scare you? Did it make you want to make her feel as small as possible, put her in her place, make her know that is unacceptable? Bullshit. I call bullshit all over that. You don’t get to do that. The only person who can make me feel inferior is me; and I don’t choose that path today.

I came marching back for Act II and when it was funny, I laughed. Just as loud. Maybe louder. And when it was sad, I cried. And after the show, my friend came up to me and told me that she’d been proud that her friend was the one laughing in the audience; that she knew it was good by the sound of my laughter backstage. Other cast members thanked me for laughing, because, and I quote, “there were only two people in the audience tonight that reacted at all; I’m glad you were there.” Listen, I know theater people. I AM THEATER PEOPLE. We feed off of laughter like leeches from blood. If there’s no laughter in a comedy, we aren’t getting our fix.

I’m not asking anyone to like me. Quite the opposite; I’m perfectly happy if you don’t. Is it nice if you do? Sure. Being liked, being validated, having mutual-minded people accompany you on your journey through life is always a good thing. But I refuse to change who I am to make you like me. It took me over thirty years to get comfortable with this person, and you think I should just like that, *poof*, be someone else? Someone quiet and cute and giggly and frilly and useless? Go somewhere else for that. You’re not going to find it here. I’m going to my grave as this person. This flawed, loud, amazing, wonderful person. I love who I am. I love myself, and just fuck you very much for thinking you have any right to make comments within my earshot about me. You don’t get that right. I don’t extend it to you, and you sure as hell don’t just get to take it without an invitation.

If you’re looking for a paper-doll cookie-cutter person, please move on. There has to be a place you can get that. It’s not here. And I’m not going to apologize for that. 

I’m leaving you with this. This is one of my favorite bands – I was lucky enough to discover them this year, thanks to one of my friends. They closed their concert this summer here with this song, and it wrecked me, because the refrain sums me up nicely: I will not go quiet. I will not stay silent. And if you don’t like that, well, bye, I guess. Best of all possible things to you, in your boring eggshell world.

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

3 responses to “I Will Not Pretend; I Will Not Put on a Smile

  • Tasha Lee

    Good for you. For too many years I have found myself trying to please the world, trying to make sure that I didn't stick out and be too ostentatious. A few years ago I woke up and said, “Oh hell no.” So, thank you for speaking up!


  • amanda

    I LOVE this post. I want to tape it to my wall and read it every time I feel like I don't fit with someone's expectations of who I should be (which is often) because you just said everything I only WISH I could feel when that happens. You are awesome. Awesome.


  • Roz

    I wish I had been there to applaud you and laugh at them for being JERKS!



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