On being one intimidating lady.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a newly inhabited New York apartment is in need of an appropriate christening. This christening is commonly referred to as a housewarming party, and this past Saturday night my friends hosted one such party. I attended– bottle of white in hand, of course– to pay my proper congratulations and rejoice in their new beginnings.

And in true Wellesley women fashion, the party was 90% female. In fact, when the first male appeared, a silence overcame the room. Who was this unknown specimen? Brother? Cousin? Or, worse yet, boyfriend? We paused in anticipation. And then the kicker came– ex-boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend was accompanied by three other boys/men/no longer boys-not yet men.

I instantly approached the tale brooding one. Ok, perhaps not instantly. I strategically manipulated my movement in such a way that we just happened to find ourselves two inches apart. Given our proximity, conversation became inevitable. And in typical me fashion, the following transpired:

ME: So what’s your name?


ME: What brings you here?

TALL BROODER: points at ex-boyfriend. 

ME: And where did you go to school?


Yes, my tall brooder was a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate. And for those who have not yet grasped the obvious, he and I shared only one commonality– our preference for men. After exchanging a few more meaningless words, I sulked away in defeat. I wasn’t meant to find my prince charming that night. In fact, I secretly suspected my prince charming had taken an early retirement… in Miami. If I expected to meet him, I was going to have to purchase a flight ticket.

In the cab ride home, I kvetched to my roommate about my failed attempts at romance. Even though I had made a New Year’s Resolution to no longer outwardly express my disdain for my lack of love life, I was tipsy enough to violate it. And for the first time in the nine months since we’ve been living together, my roommate gave me a reality check: “Yaffa, you are extremely intimidating. You come across as this insanely smart person who has her shit together.” Oh, the irony.

My grandmother, though in a slightly less profane manner, has expressed similar sentiment. Only she follows up her romantic diatribes by saying I should therefore be seen and not heard; be a dutiful housewife and not a professional bulldozer. And while I can dismiss her remarks as remnants of antiquated thinking, my roommate, a fellow Wellesley woman, is not so easily ignored.

I subsequently talked over the matter with my one true confidante: Aldie. On our walk to school this morning, I explained my predicament– my inability to form a healthy romantic relationship with a heterosexual male. After digesting the magnitude of my love life woes, Aldie responded, “You are one intimidating lady.”

“And,” I exclaimed. Was that all he had to offer– a reaffirmation of a statement I believed to be completely and utterly false? Well, Aldie reasoned, if I wanted to “catch a fish”– a term he uses in reference to male-female relationships– I should perhaps talk less at the onset of an interaction, and instead listen more. Ask the right questions. And then after I have lulled the “guppy” into a sense of safety and security share a few of my colorful anecdotes.

And, Aldie said, if the “guppy” then exhibits signs of intimidation, I should move along, or “just keep swimming.” Eventually I’ll encounter a fish larger than me.


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