What follows is a fictional autobiography.
My name is Laura, and I am 21 years old today. In four months, I will have my journalism degree. My mama and daddy are so proud of me, as I am the first person in our family to graduate from college. I’ve lived with my parents all my life, but, soon, I will break out on my own, and I’m quietly thrilled at the prospect, even though I love my parents very much. Will they be as happy when I am gone? I worry, for I am an only child.
Writing is my passion now. I put the same energy into it that I used to put into ballet when I was small, and to playing the viola in high school. Pirouettes and pizzicatos have fallen by the wayside for me; now, I want to go to Washington and cover the political beat. The Equal Rights Amendment is gaining momentum in Congress now. That’s pretty exciting, but still I wonder sometimes, is the way the world is changing for women the way I want to go? In my heart, I know that I’m still a fairly traditional girl.
My father, finally, got a desk job at Coca-Cola after driving their trucks for almost twenty-five years. He is a gentle, hard-working man with a stubbly, sharp jaw who likes watching football. He and I have probably watched the Jets play a hundred times, though I would be happy just watching Joe Namath. I could enjoy his handsome face a lot better if he’d just take off that blasted helmet! I don’t think my father has made a great deal money working for Coca-Cola; perhaps he could have done better, but college wasn’t really an option for him. I’m sure he must be proud of our middle-class life, considering his hardscrabble existence as a child.
I’m told my mother used to be a librarian before she married my father, but her work since she married has been being the best wife and mother any two people could ask for. She is a fairly meticulous lady who takes great pride in her appearance, and I have to admit her habits have rubbed off onto me a good bit. Even though the sofa and easy chair in our den are the same ones I crawled behind and hid when I was five, it’s still in good enough shape to keep, because mom has kept them clean over the years, and even fixed a broken sofa spring, once.
Mom dresses nicely, not only for herself, but for my daddy, too. When he comes home from work, he would often find Mom cooking in heels and pearls. Then, later, when she brought him his drink, he’s pull her onto his lap and tickle her middle. She’d laugh and pretend to struggle to get away. They’ve always seemed to be playfully in love. I hope my husband will be sweet to me like that.
Mom taught me everything she knows about looking her best. Her wardrobe is the size it is because she makes most of her own dresses. She doesn’t even use patterns from the fabric store, much – she just imitates the outfits she sees in fashion section of the Sunday paper. Jackie Kennedy still holds sway in my mom’s eyes, believe me, even though she’s not the First Lady anymore. She’s made a lot of my clothes, too, and has tried to get me involved in making them, though I lack her talent.
I remember my boyfriend Lance Hastings took me to the Senior Prom, so we worked together on a dress made of apricot silk taffeta. I was complaining, “Mom, please don’t make me wear a homemade dress to my Prom!” But, when I saw myself in it, I had to admit that I looked pretty stunning. Prom went wonderfully and, afterward, Lance took me out for coffee instead of going with his gang of friends and their dates to the lake for God-knows-what. While I was busy stirring my fourth tablespoon of cream into my cup, he slid a small box wrapped with a pink bow over to my side of the table. Inside was a ring with a tiny chip of Safire. He put it on the ring finger of my right hand and said he wanted me to be his girl even after he left for college in the fall. And so I was his girl, for almost two years. He’d come home from school to see me, weekly for awhile, then every other week, then monthly, then he stopped coming, to my house, at least. He broke up with me without breaking up with me, if you know what I mean.
My father always said, “Never trust a boy!”, even though he seemed to like Lance. Lance and I used to go back to that same coffee shop and sit at that same booth, and we’d make plans for our future together. More and more women were working outside the home, but Lance wanted me to be a housewife and a full-time mother for his children, so I fantasized about being a woman like that. Later, in his car, Lance and I would go “parking”: He would kiss me, and I would kiss him back. He would touch my breasts, and I would let him. He would put his hand between my legs, and I would open them to him, because it felt so wonderful. I don’t regret having sex with Lance, even though my parents would be very disappointed in me if they found out. What I do regret is believing him when he said were forever. I guess daddy was right, never trust a boy.
I know, though, that I can take the lessons I’ve learned and the love my parents have given me and be successful on my own. Women can do anything they want these days, but still, secretly, inside, I don’t think I’ll ever change from being the girl I was raised to be. Feminist? Possibly. Feminine? Always!