Some of you may remember that my sister, Michele, is getting married on January 1st, New Year’s Day, 2005. Our whole family is in happy anticipation of the event. There is a tradition that has evolved in our family. When one of us gets married, she treats the others to a manicure and pedicure a day or two before the wedding. So today I rendezvoused with my mother, my younger sister, Sherry – herself a bride of five months – and my older sister, Michele, the bride-to-be. We met at a mall in West Los Angeles and giggled and had our nails painted. As a friend of mine would say, it was “too much fun”.

At one point while our nails were drying, I looked around the salon. The place was packed with women of every description – from the very young to grandmothers, from reed-thin to zaftig, women of every ethnicity, and if I could have talked to them, probably of every religion and political stance. Women come to these places to pamper themselves, to relax, to maintain their appearance, and I think, to be among other women.

Most of the time in this world, we are required to assume the role of the “second sex”. We are helpmates to our husbands, secretaries to our bosses, nursemaids to our children. We are caretakers. We are the ones who do what others cannot or will not do. We take on the mundane tasks. We run our households. We “man” the mops. We polish the silver. We go to the market. We chauffer the kids. We call the plumber. We make the social arrangements. In short, we gather up life’s loose ends and make sense out of them. Isn’t it amazing? Doesn’t this sound pre-Betty Friedan? And yet this is the end of 2004. We are four years into the new millennium, and the only thing that seems to have changed is that now we type on PCs or Macs instead of Coronas or Olivettis.

Not that I’m complaining! I’m one of the lucky ones. I actually like my lot in life. Call me crazy (you won’t be the first) but I really like doing all that stuff. I was born to be a caretaker, so I’m not going to go into a tirade about being mistreated. Au contraire!

But for just a moment as my mother and my sisters and I sat in that overcrowded salon, I listened to the murmur of women’s voices all around me, and I imagined that there were other places all over the world where women were doing the same thing – Prettifying themselves for the new year. Laughing. Allowing themselves to just be girls for a little while, not much different than they had been as children, playing dress-up with Mama’s clothes and getting all dolled up just for fun.

It’s good sometimes to be enveloped in the feminine. I felt such solidarity with my Mom and (biological) sisters here in California, as well as my “sisters” all over the world. A picture came to mind of women in India decorating their hands with henna before the wedding day. “We are all exactly the same”, I thought. Not an original thought, but it struck me as if I had never heard the phrase before. I imagined that every woman there in that salon was a “sister” to me. If we wanted, we could probably sit down and have long conversations and feel as if we’d known each other forever. And if I spoke their language, I could probably have a coffee klatsch with women from any country, any culture, and any era, even, and we could laugh and giggle and throw off the cares of the world for a little while that way.

I wish I could give all my saddened sisters in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and coastal Africa a day like the one I had today.

© 2004, Robin Munson

 Category: Robin's Nest

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