The Metro is taking us to the suburbs so that we can pick up our Xmas loot from my parents. The Metro is full today, which seems strange for a Sunday. Scoresby and I are reading, trying to ignore the ugly Maryland suburbs that are swishing by outside the window. The only beauty can be found in the haphazard graffiti sprayed on the sides of abandoned buildings. He is reading the Stephen Ambrose book about D-Day and I am reading Breeder: Real-life Stories from a New Generation of Mothers. We are planning our first child and I am learning to love being a woman.
"Did you know Hemingway was on the beach at D-Day?" Scoresby asks.
"No, I did not,” I answer, interested. "How did he survive?"
"He was covering it, not fighting," he says.
"Do you know what the Roman origin of the word 'vagina' is?" I whisper because we are on a train full of loud men who might become interested by this conversation.
"No. What?" he responds.
"Sheath for your sword," I say. "Isn’t it great that my parts are defined by yours?" I ask a little too snarky.
"Not my fault," he says. And he is right. I make a mental note: Think of new word for vagina.
The two sweatshirt-wearing, baseball-capped men beside us are having too much fun. They are laughing and talking about football and going to Hooters. The woman with them are pretending to enjoy the conversation. A couple across from us are dressed in all red and gold.
"There must be a football game today," I say to Scoresby.
"That explains it," he says, turning back to D-Day.
At the stadium stop, the Metro driver mentions this is the stop were the Redskins will be beating those Cowboys. Cheers and laughs rise up all around me and I feel like I’m floating in a pool of testosterone. The cap boys pump their fists in the air and cheer as they get off the train. The open train doors are a window to streams of pale men in over-sized coats. I try not to dislike them, but they are all so dull. I don’t even know them. I shouldn’t get angry about what other people enjoy.
I rant to Scoresby that isn’t it sad that we, as a culture, celebrate these sporting events, but not a woman giving birth. Sure, we fawn all over babies, but what about the act of giving birth. I envision stadiums full of women watching someone on a huge screen pushing out a baby. "The head is crowning," says the announcer, excitedly. And 10 thousand woman cheer and do the wave.
I have read 10 books so far in my pre-pregnancy studies. Maybe they are just serving as feminist propaganda, but my feelings about being a woman have changed dramatically in that time. Having had a cold mother, I found it difficult to relate to women. Difficult to appreciate my own gender. I used to think if I could choose, I would choose to be a man. Now I love being a woman. I love that someday, I will give be able to give birth. I mentioned this to my mother-in-law the other day. I mentioned that all the reading that I had done really made me believe that we were the stronger sex and that is why we were oppressed for so many thousands of years. They knew that we were stronger than them, so they oppressed us. It was a wonderful speech for someone like me to give. Someone who used to hate being a woman. She told me this was stupid, that women are smaller and weaker physically. This made me sad. I wished she would roar with me! Even if it isn’t true, why not believe it? I said that I thought pregnancy would be empowering. She frowned. Just wait and see, she said.
After my trip to the suburbs, I settle down on the couch to watch a little television while I wait to get dinner. Johnny Depp is talking to James Lipton on Inside the Actor's Studio. Johnny Depp isn’t a favorite of mine, but I do love James Lipton. Depp says that after he was present at the birth of his daughter, he realized that women truly are the stronger sex. This made me smile and laugh. Why is it that Johnny Depp will roar with me and cheer for me, but my own mother-in-law will not? He is not someone who I ever thought would be allied with me. I wonder if he knows any better words for vagina.