The man behind me in line at a Martins’ food store tonight backed up to allow me to pay for my purchases at the debit card machine. When I returned my card to my wallet, he commented on the number of credit cards I carry with me.
“You have a boyfriend?” he said, and at first I thought he was making an offer.
“Husband,” I said. He didn’t hear the “Even better” through his chortles.
“He must be treatin’ you pretty well,” the man said.
I was outside before I realized that he must not have considered me much of a bread-winner. My husband and I currently take home exactly the same amount in salary (after insurance) — and yes, he treats me well — but now I’m wondering, was it his $36.23 or mine that paid for that grocery store purchase? Considering it all filters into the same checking account, I’d say the contribution was 50/50.
In 2012 it might seem like an unnecessary devotion of time to cheer for moments of equality between men and women, but the man at Martins’ words only reiturated for me that a lot still hasn’t changed in the last thirty years.
I tend to go on movie kicks — watching the same movie over and over and over again if, for some reason, the plot/setting/characters resonate with me. Lately I’ve been binging on the 1987 film Baby Boom.
It’s not like I’ve never seen it before — I own it on VHS — but there’s something about it that sticks with you. I realized on the second consecutive viewing last week what it was doing — what J.C. Wyatt was doing — to me.
A titan in her corporate world of Manhattan, J.C. is emotionally ambushed when a distant cousin dies, willing her his baby. J.C. keeps the baby instead of putting her up for adoption, a detriment to her romantic relationship and her career. At the movie’s midpoint, she finds herself with nothing tying her to the city anymore, so she and the baby move to Vermont.
In truth, by my fourth viewing in a week, I was fast forwarding through large portions of the movie, but I always stopped at one spot — the montage of apples rolling down conveyor belts, of shipping boxes closing over packed jars of baby apple sauce, of envelopes cascading through the sky over a map of the mid-western states like so many letters to Santa Claus, and of newspaper articles flashing one after another across the screen relaying news of J.C.’s success in building her baby food business — an even greater and more meaningful success than she has in the movie’s first few scenes, when her boss offers her a partnership in the marketing firm.
Every time I watch that scene, I can’t help it. I think of the book I’m working on — my book, which I finally started editing again this week after weeks of procrastinating and self-defeating thoughts. Baby Boom renewed my motivation. I know it’s just a movie; it’s a fictional plotline about a woman on an unrealistically fast track to success alongside a baby who doesn’t seem to age at all over the course of a year and a half, but I watch it and I think anything is possible.
I think we need stories like this that inspire change in ourselves — change for the better. Sure J.C. pursues her baby food business out of desperation to get back to New York and away from the 52-acre Vermont money pit she buys in a moment of weakness. Along the way she seems to lose everything — her significant other, her career, her money, even her pride. But then something amazing happens; she falls in love with her new life and fights to regain everything she lost — tenfold. She builds a business that’s all her own and which accommodates her life, not like the one that squeezed the life out of her.
The person J.C. is in the beginning isn’t so bad; but it does take an emotional punch in the gut and the ensuing recovery for J.C. to realize that she can have so much more than she’d thought. In the beginning, she strives for ideals that others pitch to her as “perfection.” In the end, she realizes her own perfection.