Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian selected her photo to represent all teens from a specific decade.
“Welcome” was written on a cardboard poster greeting me, and other wives, who had accompanied their husbands to the convention. It was the second thing I spotted at the hotel’s mezzanine level; the first was a smile. As if stamped by machine, the many faces were almost identically upturned.
I approached a table covered with a color green felt-cloth. Copies of auxiliary activities were neatly arranged. My name and hometown were transferred into print on a plastic covered tag, then pinned to my blouse. “Welcome” was inked above my name.
Coffee was available; conversation was a by-product.
The day’s events offered a makeup lesson at 10am, followed by handwriting analysis. According to the program, a ‘delightful’ luncheon of chicken salad, then a fashion show, would complete the morning’s activities.
I flipped the page to tomorrow’s schedule. Late registration and coffee preceded the bus trip to a local university. Points of interest along the way would be indicated. A flower-arranging demonstration should highlight the trip. Freedom to shop was the afternoon fare.
On day three, a diet and exercise expert would complement the coffee hour. Dancing class and/or palm reading should provide an interesting morning.
I left the mezzanine with leaflets, maps, and three-day schedule to find my husband. Perhaps I could attend meetings with him. Under the guise of entertaining and enriching, the women’s agenda was designed to keep them busy and out of the way. My husband’s gentle “no” made me wonder if a woman was a threat to the male meetings or to the other wives. Were all females united under cosmetic demonstrations to protect those who were not capable of cerebral activity? Or might Joe feel inadequate because his wife’s subculture is shopping while Sam’s wife sits beside him in a class making notes and understanding the discussions?
Dinner and bingo, dinner and an art auction, dinner and a banquet will really make the convention a memorable event.
Auxiliary activities are acceptable to many. However, the assumption that all would be enthusiastic upset me.
After five years and two summers of university life, it was comical for me to be ‘treated’ to a field trip to a university for a dainty salad, home-ec, and “see this big school run”. Handwriting, palmistry, and makeup insulted me. If I hadn’t learned how much or how well to apply the latter at this stage in life, or believed the former, I’d feel rather pathetic. Now that I finally can stroke lipstick minus a mirror, should I spend valuable time teaching myself to brush my lips with pure sable? Handwriting analysis was fun at age twelve; I wasn’t pre-teen anymore.
Why couldn’t some of the women meet and exchange ideas on day-care-center problems, equal rights/pay, working wives, single-parent homes, emotional health, contraceptives, state alimony laws, mastectomy attitudes. Coming from different places, women could explore how one another’s communities deal with similar situations. Perhaps they could hear a psychiatrist discuss uprooting and the whither-thout-goest syndrome. Has mass media, or perhaps their own mothers, reassured women it’s okay to dislike their children at times, be angry when mate’s job moves them from familiarity, feel smothered by daily demands, for example? Might women examine situations with aged parents and guilt for not wanting to care for them? Can’t convention females at least have the option to unite and exchange fears, needs, social structures!
My thoughts were interrupted by a passing fashion model. In a bra-less halter tennis dress, tinted eyewear, flowing hair, bangle bracelets, and rope pearls worn as a choker in front and hanging behind, she looked terrific for the terrace. Would you believe she was attempting to convince the audience that the garb is actually for playing!
“Welcome.” It said that right on my badge. Welcome women.... next year’s exciting plans include the art of pedicure, a bus trip to a real decorator’s studio, satin pillows vs. sleep bonnets, how to look as if you’ve done nothing all day, where to apply perfume?
This actually happened in 1980, and I wrote the above for “Graduate Woman”. At the next conference we attended, I merely walked in with my husband as it were a business meeting. There were no badges necessary; I was the only woman in the room. The wives were bussed to a local shopping mall for hours of that activity. While the discussion was of little interest, group shopping and prodding to spend ‘more’ was just not me at all.
Several years passed. At a convention in Miami, and women were now in the profession with some wearing badges to attend lectures, I walked in with my husband and pretended my tag had been left in the room. During question time, I raised my hand, and with knowledge learned from reading journals and working for my husband occasionally, I mentioned a specific study not brought up by the speaker and what were his thoughts about such. Congratulated for ‘good question’, I did have to exit rapidly once the session was adjourned else be found out that I didn’t belong.
We’re starting a calendar that says 2021. Yes, there are still women who prefer a spa day to hours at lectures; unlike my experience decades ago, now there’s a choice!
‘Do not pass Go’ ... a Monopoly board warning or command? I never did take a pass/fail course, but I did pass the baton in relay-racing, got a hall pass to leave class during high school, heard an old song that said ‘pass the ammunition’.
And code? In religious school, I learned about the Code of Hammurabi, some really important laws to deal with civil and criminal things. The combination lock on the steel rectangle in the Girls’ Gym, high school, had turn right/turn left/three numbers but I didn’t think of that as a ‘code’. Homeroom closet held my outer coat, and that locker was to hold mandatory gym suit or my clothing when I put on the one-piece, balloon shorts, puff sleeve attire washed and starched by my mother. A code was talking Pig Latin when I was pre-teen, holding the heavy black Stromberg Carlson telephone that was tethered to the wall; I was sure my parents had no idea what ooh-yea meant.
Word count. My gosh, that took so long adding-up every single one I carefully wrote with my fountain pen’s color South Seas blue. Why didn’t the teacher accept page-count instead! When I learned to type, instructors also wanted word-count and I couldn’t just total lines as some words were short and others long! Tedious. And I always-always loved words.
My new ipad, during our current Pandemic, was ordered sight-unseen and mailed to me. The computer store, although actually open in a local Mall, was not going to transfer data from my previous one even if I’d gone in person, donned in a mask covered with a face shield for extra protection. By phone, a grandson 400 miles away, ‘walked’ me through the transfer and erasing the previous device to mail to the company’s trade-in place for some cash-back. Then came the e-mail: while my former tablet was ‘clean’ and such, some encoded item still present had to be removed. Go to Find My Phone; my phone was next to me so why should I ‘find’ it. I looked in ‘settings’; I never had that turned on, so what was I to do so the company can finish evaluating my trade-in? Ah. Call my Guru grandson back; he got my private information and took over my tech item here and dealt with the company.
Well, suggesting I change my password, and to something I might even remember, my husband and I sat at the kitchen table. A real table, by the way, and not a counter with high stools that, at our ages, we’d have trouble even climbing on. He said ‘make it strong’; why isn’t a weak one as good as everyone will expect strong? I can remember weaker ones since those don’t need upper case, lower case, numbers, math symbols, and be at least eight letters long! Okay, how about a ‘p’ and maybe a ‘t’ to start? The ‘p’ might look both upper and lower case, so that was out, the ‘t’ when handwritten might look like a plus-sign. Out. An ‘s’, ‘c’, ‘k’, ‘m’, ‘n’.... oh you get the idea, also might confuse me since I’d be handwriting those in my little ledger of such. A lower-case ‘l’ seems too much like the numerical ‘1' so that was out. Let’s go back to the letters, I suggested, and also do the math symbols. Writing out a dollar sign appears that I’m crossing out a big ‘S’, and the tic-tac-toe board had me want to play as its meaning as hashtag just isn’t in my memory bank. The ‘&’ looked like a musical symbol; oh let’s do symbols as the last step in creating a password! Okay, how hard can numbers be? We got four numbers. Could I remember those easily? Possibly if the other necessary things for a password were also meaningful. And I shouldn’t use birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, old phone numbers.... why! Who are all these people in space that know these about me! All right. I won’t use any of those.
Creating a password is complicated. On some medical portal, I could use the name I gave my childhood canary and that’s okay, but it isn’t strong-enough for my tablet and phone. Seems medical records are more private than emailing ‘hi, how’re you doing during this global crisis, and how’s your family holding up’. Password finally done and took longer than it should. But I have to enter it in the device, twice. Done. Oh, I have to do that again on my phone? Okay. Uh-oh, I’m not finished with this easy process: two-factor authentification. What’s my passcode? Geez. Passcode is not password; how do I open my devices using numbers rather than one digit that has wavy lines unique to me? Go to my ledger and look that up: there, hand-penned with a ballpoint (my fountain pen’s purpose vanished with smudgeless ballpoints).
Oh setting up a tech thing is so easy. And changing passwords not a problem at all. And, of course, one does remember a passcode when the eyeball or face-recognition or digit doesn’t open the phone. When Pandemic ends, the public will hear how important a Geek is to do these things, for the small price of $100 set-up.
I once thought moving pieces around a Monopoly board was confusing with the railroads, and which properties were worth saving and which ought to be traded if any player even would trade. Do not PASS Go... Maybe that would make a valid password..... nope, doesn’t have numbers or symbols.