Tag Archives: Social Intelligence

I wore polka dots today

polka dots are the new black
…and felt like an idiot. Why? I think polka dots are adorable. They are playful and happy and youthful which are traits I value. And the outfit I had on was classy and cute. So why did I feel anxious that someone might pop over unexpectedly and see my polka dots? I’m not sure, but I changed rather than further contemplate the issue.

I think that maybe polka dots aren’t me. Whatever that means. Like all women, I have a closet full of clothes that I never wear. Truthfully, my closet is a schizophrenic mixed bag pining for psychiatric intervention. I must’ve worn these styles at one time, but I guess I’ve changed. Or, more likely, they were never me. I just didn’t know it, because I was adept at changing me to be a part of the crowd du jour.

I don’t think men are this way. A couple years ago, a friend and I took a getaway to Mexico for a few days. We hung out under a big beach umbrella, two pale obviously-American chubbies in a sea of gorgeous foreigners. The women were thin, tanned, and beautiful, but they couldn’t hold a candle to the men. Unbelievably fit, glistening brown skin, boy shorts. At once holding a cigarette and a partner’s perky breast, we couldn’t stop staring at the men.

When the couples eventually got up and dressed, the guys wore capri pants, silky dark shirts, and closed-toe leather sandals. But even through my drool I knew that, were I given the chance, I probably wouldn’t date any one of them. Seriously! They were not my type.

As pretty as the beach boys were, my type of guy doesn’t spend much time thinking about his hair and wardrobe. A makeover is buying his favorite shirt in another color. I’ve never succeeded in slipping Bruni Maglis over his tennis shoes, nor a man purse over his shoulder. Even the plain front/pleated front battle can rage for days, so sartorial transformation has never been in the cards. Men know what they are comfortable wearing, and are usually unwilling to indulge our female fantasies. Truly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

If men can stay true to form, why do women’s closets suffer from bipolar disorder? Are we multifaceted and complex, or are we being unduly influenced the expectations of our mates, the opinions of our friends, and the daily media mind fuck?

Though my closet doesn’t reflect it yet, my chameleon days are over. I am newly unapologetic about my hairstyle, my yoga pants, and my Doc Martens. When I dress up I usually wear black from head to toe. I don’t show a lot of skin, and hide my few curves. I wear simple earrings, no other jewelry. I no longer worry about fashion trends, because I refuse to be trendy.

My manner of dress is merely an outward manifestation of the natural, unadorned, athletic, private girl that I am. I cover my body in such a way that I’m not constantly mindful of the fact that I’m wearing something. Something that feels foreign and awkward. Like polka dots.

Tim Robbins is an activist god

Tim-Robbins-unwrapped-graphicMaybe it’s the start of baseball season — I’m watching the 22nd inning of the Rockies-Padres game! — that has me remembering the first time I saw the movie Bull Durham. It was a movie that had everything I love — sport (baseball), romance (Costner and Sarandon) and humor (in the form of an idiotic-yet-talented young pitcher). The imprint of Bull Durham remained on me for a long time. I pictured Crash Davis and Annie Savoy living in Happily Ever After, and hoped that someday I might be as lucky.

Imagine my horror when I heard that Susan Sarandon had taken up with, not Crash, but the nimrod pitcher Nuke LaLoosh. In real life! The guy was named Tim Robbins, he was twelve years her junior and, worst of all, he was a complete moron. Or so I thought, and continued to stubbornly think, for many years.

Well, no more. Tim Robbins is now the object of my fantasies. He is a guy who is brilliant and passionate about not only sex and sport, but social issues as well. The thing that sets Tim Robbins apart more than anything is his ability to clearly articulate his positions, bravely defy social norms and niceties, cleverly connect historical dots, and positively SKEWER lesser mortals with their idiocy, hypocrisy, dishonesty, immorality and overall worthlessness, while making them laugh at the same time. He is so completely likeable that those who have been ripped to shreds by his razor wit invite him to have another go.

When social change is a goal, when mindsets must be shaped and molded, we need more activists like Tim Robbins. People who strike us as pompous and obnoxious, who are heavy-handed and unlikeable, are rarely successful change agents. To educate, to influence, to sway an opinion requires first to be heard. I know that I personally refuse to listen to anyone who browbeats me, provides no inspiration, and displays a complete lack of social awareness. I refuse to cooperate in any way, even if I agree with the vision. I doubt I’m the only one.

Tim-Robbins-unwrapped-graphicIf you haven’t already done so ten times, you should listen to (not read) Tim Robbins’ keynote address to the National Association of Broadcasters. He plays the audience in a masterful progression from inculpation to inspiration, while they cling to his every word. In the end he’s left them feeling that he’s an ally, that they can work together. The broadcasters are free to walk out the door feeling empowered, dignity intact, eyes opened, ready to go.

Tim Robbins possesses keen social intelligence. Unlike many activists, he isn’t an obstacle to change.