I had a peculiar thing happen last night that hasn’t happened for a long time but for a different reason. I was at dinner at a neighbour’s (J) with one other neighbour when J said she had recently read an essay of mine in a book, the first Dropped Threads collection, and she was gob-smacked (not her word but she was). She said here was this person she swam with, her neighbour, well known to her, yet who wrote this piece she had trouble getting her head around – not because it was that difficult but that it was so strange – that I had written it, I guess. and out of the context of the me that she was familiar with.
I have subsided into anonymity, not without resentment – not of my neighbour but of editors and publishers and people who should know better and who should realize that I am still here, inside my head where I always was.
I remember shortly after Bill had died and I had started publishing some stuff, trying to make a living for me and my kids, my brother-in-law (Bill’s sister’s husband) commented on my incipient career (he didn’t call it that) saying, “I knew you were smart, Bettyjane, but I never thought you were that smart.”
It’s because I am female. As a teenage girl I learned very quickly that I shouldn’t be smarter than a boy. It damaged me. I got so used to hiding my light under a bushel that it became second nature. I rarely had to ratchet up a few degrees of higher intelligence and when I did inappropriately, I usually had my figurative knuckles smartly rapped
.I met a new friend on my theatre tour in January who surprised me with a quick appraisal. “It must have been difficult for you, “she said, “hiding how smart you really were.” Shows how smart she is.
I have to stop hiding. Age is doing it for me now.
Oscars, so white? The world, so masculine. The world, so young