Friday, February 02, 2007

Labels and an Essay

I talk to my students from time to time about labels. The words they use to describe themselves and each other. There are obvious ones like jock and prep, but there are other ones, too. If you could only use three words to label yourself, what would you choose? What order do they come in? My labels have changed over the years, but right now they are: fiancé, teacher, and writer. Writer is a word that I almost don't type, because it is still a fragile label for me to be using. I've never been published, I probably never will be, and ... that's okay. In my mind, I see myself as someone who writes down words to express things. To me, that's a writer.
I find it interesting that I put fiancé before teacher, though. In my past relationships labels like student or teacher always came first. For the first time I'm seeing myself as a woman in love first, a person who works second. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

What labels do you give yourself? What things do you believe to be true about yourself? I am finding that as I age the things I believe about myself are changing. Being afraid of the dark remains a constant, but thinking I'm not worthy of being loved has changed. I used to think that I didn't care what people thought of me, but I am finding (thanks to Bear, who really doesn't), that I do. I always thought I hated my childhood home, that I'd never go back there. Now I'm gettied married in the landscape of that past.

I think it's time to post the first part of the essay I told you about a few weeks ago. The essay is about another childhood struggle - the reconciling between the Disney fairy tales I grew up on and the Real World. If you read it and like it and want me to post the rest, I will. I will assume if I hear nothing that it wasn't riveting reading and try again. I hope you enjoy.


I am a child of the Disney generation, and as such I was fed fairy tales as often as I was fed red hot dogs, which was pretty often. I knew each Disney princess’ story by heart, could sing along with each young woman as she wished for books, legs, and the inevitable prince. It was always the prince that ruined the story for me. I’d watch the movie, entranced, until Aurora was caught dancing with the prince’s cloak and boots, Cinderella waltzed at the ball or Ariel bobbed in the water like a buoy gazing at the sailor that somehow was the man of her dreams. Even at seven years old, I knew there were precious few Prince Charmings. I’d ask my mom, “What happens to Sleeping Beauty if Prince Charming doesn’t show up?”

“She sleeps forever.”

“What happens if someone NOT charming kisses her? What if there’s a Duke Discourteous or Viscount Vapid?” (even at seven I had an impressive vocabulary). At my incessant and mildly offended questions, my mother would shake her head and say, “In fairy tales, that just doesn’t happen. There’s always a Prince Charming, and he always shows up when he’s supposed to.”

What a crock.

The truth, as I saw it, was that there were no more Prince Charmings. There were only boys that pulled your pigtails and pushed you off the merry-go-round while it was spinning so that you scraped your knees and ruined another pair of knee-high stockings. I decided that if I ever needed rescuing, I’d better do it myself, because if I waited for the perfect guy to come along and fix everything for me, I’d be waiting for a very long time.

When I grew older and began dating I knew not to look for Charming; I was content to settle for Doesn’t-Fart-in-Public. That’s when I met Chad. He had a bit of the Fairy-Tale-Prince look to him – dark complexion, big white teeth, perfectly coiffed hair. I was soon to learn that his looks were the only charming part about him.


Shari said...

Well, if I had to label myself (and like you, it changes as I change or my situation changes, but for sure the first two labels will stick on me for a long time.

1. Mother
2. Wife
3. Student

Sue Flaska said...


2.Wife goddess (my husband typed that while I was opening a Gogurt for Claire.)

As far as your story....more more more!!!!

Word Vert:


A drunk bumble bee swearing.