Earlier today I found myself sitting on the rooftop of a very fancy hotel in Napa, California. I performed during their Sunday brunch which I now understand is an actual time of day. I think it falls somewhere between fully drunk and totally hungover.
For a gal who rarely drinks, playing a show in a town rooted in wine culture, I am left high and dry. I am not sure what people do in this town if they aren’t drinking wine, but I’m guessing it’s top secret. Or maybe it rhymes with “schmetting schmunk”.
Oddly enough, there is no pool on this rooftop, but rather, what looks like a giant, human water dish. Barely deep enough to drown your feet in, this “pool” houses curvy chairs people lounge in while periodically dipping their fingers and toes into the moat surrounding them. I’m not a huge fan of bathing in the sun ever since a childhood sunburn left me with a second set of removable eyelids. I’ve always felt the idea of cooking one’s decolletage made as much sense as grilling one’s hands. Yes, it will bake your skin, but I don’t think the “charred look” is all that sexy.
After my performance, I decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood. I hoped to happen upon something slightly funkier than the saxophone solo blaring over the hotel sound system on repeat. (Props to whomever you are for your rendition of “The Thong Song”.)
I asked the valet what was something funky and ragtag I could possibly explore in this fine town of Napa. He looked at me and my unusually erect posture for someone leaving the hotel during the peak of happy hour and gently shook his head in dismay.
“There is nothing here like that.” He said as he took a disparaging sigh. “I have to keep reminding myself I live here because I love the weather.” That guy had a lot to unpack and just when I thought we were about to launch into a larger, probably darker conversation about life, he lit up and said, “You could go check out the antique store around the corner. They have old bonnets and books on the history of the grape! Otherwise, it’s pretty much just room after room of wine tasting and prosciutto tossing.”
Yikes. In that single sentence, I now understood his repressed sadness. ”
“Well, the sun is very shiny today!” I said with an excessive amount of pep. We both smiled uncomfortably at each other before I sauntered off down the clean Napa sidewalk. I remember thinking the whole street looked like it had just come out of the dryer. It was warm, dust-free, and the air smelled of fresh linen. (Side note, there were a lot of people wearing white linen. Seems counter-intuitive if you’re spending the whole day around sloshy staining liquids, but hey, everyone appeared happy and very, very clean. Also, they could have been members of a well-dressed cult.)
I spent the next hour wandering in and out of numerous clean and very bland stores housing items that brought me neither joy nor sobriety.
“Welcome to our shop ma’am.” A toothy sales clerk glared at me as I entered a brightly lit store decorated in various shades of taupe. “Can I offer you a chalice of wine while you shop?”
“Ugh” I stammered as I wasn’t really feeling the need to get hammered while window shopping. This store seemed to be rocking a fine balance of bougie kitsch as they proudly displayed novelty wine paraphernalia such as fur-lined wine bottle holders, wine glass belt holsters and marble statues of fake hands ready to catch your tossed wine glass. I realized this particular store was geared towards people who weren’t sober or willing to hold their liquor under even the best of circumstances.
Then as I was examining the “Wine Rack”, aka a satin sports bra with a polyurethane bladder and sipping straw designed to store wine in your cleavage, the sales clerk walked over to me and used a word I find more offensive than, “dirty slut trucker”. As he reached his hands out towards me with a slight curtsey, he pushed in my direction a decanter of wine and asked, “Would you like another chalice of our ‘1998 Cabernet Sauvignon’, M’am.”
Now I realize when someone is as old as the item they are serving, it may give them a skewed sense of time, but he may as well have punched me in the face with a giant trout. I have no idea how old he thought I was, or if he thought he was complimenting me as he poured me my sixteen-ounce glass of spirits. But I was definitely not drunk enough to feel flattered.
While I said thank you on the outside, my insides were screaming, “Were you raised in a barn? Never use the term Ma’m unless you are in the deep south, where even the grasshoppers are ultra polite. The only other acceptable time is if the person you’re speaking to is permanently sewed into a rocking chair and whistles when they say the word, “Whippersnapper”. Otherwise, knock it off with the “Ma’am nonsense!”
Stewing on his comment, I drank from my goblet as I looked at $500 dollar tee shirts sporting phrases like, I make wine disappear, what makes you special? or In wine, there is health, in water, there is Giardia. These phrases gave me no comfort. They did, however, make my beverage taste better.
After taking one last long, hard swig of my insult wine, I promptly left the store looking like the Joker had just done my lipstick. I got to thinking harder about the gender inequality that exists around the titles we give to men and women as we move through this life. Window shopping drunk is, it turns out, a real thing. And I was definitely now a member of that sad little club. It’s also why my hotel had so many bowls full of breath mints and tiny pretzels in the lobby. I’m guessing I wasn’t the first or last woman to be called M’am, and I needed to sit and snack while I thought about all my feelings around this.
Alternating handfuls of breath freshener and soulless carbohydrates, I started to think about why it is we have a hundred and one words to describe a female which may or may not represent her at different points in her life, i.e. Miss, Lady, Ms., Mrs., Ma’am, or one of my favorites, Spinster. Whereas the male counterpart has two, Mr. and Sir. Both imply high status and respect. While instead, the terms for females indicate whether she is young, single, taken, or of a “certain age”. I find this terminology antiquated and problematic. Based on this language, it creates a dynamic or judgment immediately around who you think a woman is and what her status is in life.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how women are valued in our world and asking the questions, what is our place if we do or do not bear children, have sex-appeal, speak louder than the loudest man, or god-forbid, act funny. All of us are judged through the lens of our surroundings and through other people’s internal biases. I know that’s a bigger fish to fry than the one which slapped me in my gullet earlier that afternoon. But as we round the corner into a world where so many of our identifying factors are fluid, more complex, and varied, I think we need to re-examine how we reduce women by this archaic and oppressive language.
As I rested in regal repose in the middle of the bustling lobby, I began to understand the perks of getting tipsy. I thought, “Oh! I get it! You realize everyone else is wrong and you have the best ideas in the room. This must have been how Cersei Lannister felt. Every. Single. Day!”
And then the perfect idea came to me. Here it is. Hold onto your Fascinator.
What I’d like to propose is a new term to address a woman who is simply a badass. Regardless of her status of being single, married, 20-years-old, 70-years-old, a parent, an auntie, a single mom of four, gay, straight, cis, transgender, a grandmother to doggies, or a caretaker of plants.
I propose we start using the term, “Your Majesty”. Let’s start treating all women with the same, irrevocably high status we’ve been giving to men of every tier for the past six hundred years.
It seems if you’ve got a set of testicles you somehow automatically win undeniable respect in this world. And I’d love to see us give that same unwavering respect to women. So no matter how old, young, rich, poor, single, married, or wayward you may be, as a woman, you’re always considered a Queen.
Who’s with me?
So with this newfound revelation, I encourage you to start a pronoun revolution. Let’s continue to re-think how we value all women and level up.
Godspeed everyone. May your day drinking bring you newfound insights and may you be surrounded by Queens wherever you go.