--Tell me, Lily, he said in a friendly tone, do you still go to school?

--O no, sir, she answered. I'm done schooling this year and more.

--O, then, said Gabriel gaily, I suppose we'll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh?

The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great bitterness:

--The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you.

Gabriel coloured as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without looking at her, kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his muffler at his patent-leather shoes.

--from The Dead, by James Joyce

This weekend I went to An Event with Brother 2. It was fancy. It was held in an art museum. I was dressed my best and wandered the galleries, imagining myself as some sort of socialite while Brother 2 welcomed people to The Event, told them that the galleries were open to them and that hors d'oeuvres would be served at 6:30.

After I enjoyed the galleries, I found Brother 2, still meeting and greeting. He introduced me to a very Nice Lady.

--What are you studying, asked The Lady, smiling.

--I am majoring in English, was my reply.

--Oh! Another useless major! How delightful!

Perhaps I started to look uneasy. Brother 2 added,
--She's not only studying English.

--I'm also studying French and minoring in editing, I said, trying not to bite my lip or play with my rings.

--Two useless majors, then! Well, I had two useless majors, too, she said gaily. I studied English and music.

--Well, what were you able to do with your useless majors? I asked.

--Oh, well, I just got them a couple years ago. I teach music now.

People often assume that I'm going to be a teacher when they learn that I'm an English major. I would rather milk cows. In fact, right now I am actively working on plans to start a business that has the potential to be quite profitable. I'd tell you all, but some People Who Know told me to stop sharing my business idea with people because it's so good that someone will steal it.

--Well, I am planning to start up my own business once I've graduated. It will focus a lot on editing. And a lot of stuff that I won't tell you but ha! I'm going to have a business! Try and call that useless! Ha! Forget about those statistics of small businesses failing in the first year of operation. I'm going to beat all odds.

At this point, Brother 2 was reintegrated into the conversation and mentioned that he had gone on a couple of dates with a girl who lives close to The Lady.

--Oh! The Lady cried. I just love her! I just love her! Don't you just love her?

As if the fact that he had only gone on a couple dates with her a while ago and they weren't going on any dates anymore were not a good enough indicator that he doesn't actually just love her.

--Yes, Brother 2 replied. Yes, I just love her. She's great.

They chit chatted about this a while and then Brother 2 was off again, talking to others. The Lady turned to me.

--She really is a sweet girl. A great girl. She just needs to be married!

The last words were delivered with much conviction. She continued,

--I just don't understand why she's not married yet.

--Well, I offered, I guess it's not always so easy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she has a list of rules that need to be adhered to by anyone of the opposite sex who aspires to grab her attention but doesn't feel the need to follow any rules of courtesy when dealing with the opposite sex. Just an idea.

--No. No, she agreed. You're right. Yes, I have a daughter who's also not married. Brother 2 should be dating her! In fact, I have several daughters who aren't married... one... two... three. I suppose I've got three. One's eighteen, the other's twenty-one... I just don't understand why they're not dating!

--Well, like I said, I guess it's just not always so easy. So now let's just drop the subject, please.

--No, I suppose it's not.

She turned to me with a warm smile spreading across her face and gently nodded her head towards me.

--Are you dating anyone?

--No. I'm not. And I haven't been for years. Now can we please talk about something else? Perhaps my useless majors again?

--Well. I just don't know what's wrong with men these days. It's obviously a different world from when I was growing up. When I was in college, everyone just found a date Friday night. That's what was done. Today...

She sighed hopelessly and looked up as if answers would simply be written on the museum ceiling. She looked back to me.

--I mean, you're ... Here she hesitated ...cute. And overweight... if you lost a few pounds I'm sure you could get a man.

--Well, who knows. Anyway. It was a pleasure meeting you.

I went to fill up my glass with punch and wished that my religion allowed me to drink something a little stronger.


redlaw said...

Fear not, Cicada. I double-majored in History and english with no desire to teach whatsoever and I didn't even have a great business to start after graduation - I was destined to spend my life as a retail manager in a mall...but fate has a way of working things out.

Very Nice Lady didn't seem very nice, after all was said and done.

Savvymom said...

I have a useless major and am a completely useless person if it makes you feel any better. Home and Family life. Laugh away. Also, you should've dumped our punch on that bad lady.

ambrosia ananas said...

I think that drink would've done everyone a lot more good had you upended it over the Charming Lady's head. Really. Oh, drat. Savvymom beat me to it. Well, I second her, then.

If those majors are so useless, why on Earth did she go back to school *recently* to get them? Is that what you do when you're wealthy and established? Spend lots of time and money studying something you'll never use? It's the new sign of the elite--useless majors.

DP said...

At least you're a girl in a useless major.

Cicada said...

Well, I suppose my post made for open season on this woman, but I do feel that I should actually post here that she was a VERY nice woman and she was just not fully aware of the things she was saying. She was genuinely nice, though and Brother 2 says so, too, and I would feel bad if we posted too many comments about me throwing my drink on her... maybe let's just focus on people in general who say things that maybe they shouldn't. Like poor, unfortunate Gabriel in the exerpt from The Dead.

Brinestone said...

I imagined this whole exchange taking place in a Jane-Austen-esque atmosphere. You looked lovely in a corset and hoop skirt with your hair up, Cicada.

And the Very Nice Lady looked shockingly like Lady Catherine . . . um, not even going to attempt her last name.

Mandi said...

I was hoping that someone had spiked the punch! Then you coulda had that stronger punch and even a good excuse to drink it.

Was Nice Lady Mormon too? It sounds like she had no idea about the difficulty today's BYU girls face with the dating scene, LOL.

sakhmet said...

Oh Gabriel....

Have you ever seen the film version of "The Dead" with Gabriel Byrne. It's fantastic. And actually, I had an annoying experience re: dating at BYU when I went to see it--gasp!--by myself at the IC. Some insufferable couple decided to sit right next to me in the EMPTY theater so that they could share the Girl Scout cookies they brought with the Poor Lonely Girl. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a Thin Mint, but not when it's tainted with pity. I managed to triumph despite my singledom, b/c they were making such moronic comments during the credits that I instantly felt superior. And they say the English major is useless--the arrogance always comes in handy!

JB said...

English major with minors in Spanish and Editing. And no plans to teach, whatsoever. Take that, world! :P

This post also reminds me of when I was talking with a girl at the FobCave the other day who she struck me as "one of those girls who are older than me but not necessarily smarter or more mature." Not a bad thing, just that's how she struck me. um. she didn't actually strike me, but, you know. I think.

Anyway, she was talking about how she was so old and still not married and what a pain it was. I thought "Dude, you're not 40 yet, what are you worried about?" Even 40 isn't hopeless, but I won't go there right now. (And, yes, I think in "dude." I'm from SoCal, and I choose not to improve my thought processes.)

Then she says something about how she's already 22 or just turned 23 or something. I was a bit surprised. I thought she was at least a few years older than I am and she was, in fact, younger.

And then, there's the lady I met in England who's 33 and she seemed like she was 25. Not at all disheartened by not being married yet (like it's that big of a deal!) and also she didn't feel old. I think that makes the biggest difference. [/rant]

daltongirl said...

This reminds me of two things, which are not related to each other, and may or may not be loosely related to the Very Nice woman in your story.

1. The friend who called people who have recently come into money the "Nauvoo Rich."

2. The woman who said that any woman that doesn't paint her toenails is "white trash." I can easily refute this last statement, b/c my husband's exwife paints her toenails, and she is as white trash as they come. But still. Who makes a comment like that? A Nauvoo Rich person, that's who.

metamorphose said...

Hmph, Nauvoo Rich...hee hee.

As an English Major, I understand this all too well.

At least I don't even have a minor though. And I plan on working at the Gap when I finally graduate...they've got great benefits. But that in no way means English is a useless major. What major isn't really? Unless you're doing pre med or something like that....hmph.