"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got." — Janis Joplin
I have never been a damsel-in-distress type of girl. I can lift heavy boxes, I can put together my own Ikea furniture and I can open a jar of spaghetti sauce just fine on my own. I have always differed from my childhood friends in this way – I’m just not a girly girl.
A friend told me just last night that the next time I go out with a guy, I should order a salad, or better yet, not eat in front of him at all, because it will make him feel more like a man. She read it in Cosmopolitan.
Is the ridiculousness of that comment implied, or do I need to spell it out?
I have a few very close girl friends, who I love like sisters, and that will never change. But nine months ago, I met a group of girls who made me feel less like a Martian. Thank heaven for derby girls.
While other women my age are reading Cosmo articles about how important it is to have a boyfriend, me and my derby girls are elbowing each other in the face, body checking each other into walls and falling in piles on a hardwood floor. We laugh the whole time, the way I see other girls laugh when Ashton Kutcher says something that’s not remotely funny.
A normal woman would get upset if you hit her hard enough to make her eat the floor like it was Thanksgiving dinner. We give each other high-fives.
While other women my age spend hours in front of the mirror primping to go to a bar, my derby girls and I walk to the watering hole from practice to numb our bruises with our hair unbrushed and our clothes stinking of sweat.
Normal women compare waistlines; we compare glutes. When I see my teammates outside of the rink, we talk about hits, strategy, exercise and the occasional – OK, frequent – dirty joke.
Don’t get me wrong. We talk about clothes and boys like any other group of girls. But it doesn’t dominate every conversation, which pleases me to pieces.
I realize that none of this is normal. I know it isn’t normal because it took me 27 years to find a group of girls who felt the same way I did. We may have nothing else in common, but my derby girls and I bond because we don’t conform to the helpless, damsel-in-distress attitude that plagues most women our age. And for that, I love every one of them.
Besides, if being normal means I can’t eat a chicken cheese steak slathered in hot wing sauce when I want to, I’ll take weird any day.