Terrifying Women

Sometimes women terrify me. Tonight was such a night.Unknown

My lovely smart broker, I’ll call her Cherub, (because she has the face of one), invited me to a night about “women and money”. For her sake, I will not name the company that hosted this event. I will say that she had never been to one, she knew it came with a steak dinner, free booze and valet parking at Gotham steak house, what’s not to love? She even said I could invite a friend.

My dear friend Sandra volunteered to come along, if nothing else, so we could have a good visit. It should be noted: this is not the first crazy adventure I have suckered Sandra into. She’s the dear friend who helped me volunteer selling 50 50 tickets at Nora’s school carnival. I’m not sure where I got this idea, but I said to her, “I believe the parents are all dressing up like clowns…” As you can imagine, nobody but Sandra and I dressed up like clowns. We were there, in our face paint and pig tails, all the parents making a slight space of wonder around us, unsure if we were crazy or high. Sandra was such a good sport. She sold more tickets than the last five years put together, I’m sure of it. I believe it was that moment I decided to love her for life.

That, or her thai chicken.

I pick Sandra up. We are both looking rather “business womanish” in our slick jackets and great shoes. I vroom up to Gotham steak house and am greeted by a valet. I think to myself…ah, I actually have a half decent car for this chap to park, for the first time in my life. Then I try to open my door and remember, oh yeah, the driver’s lock doesn’t work. I have to unroll the window and unlock the door from the outside. Classy. The valet dude winks at me and says, “Got it.”

We are ushered through the dark leathery S&M decor of Gotham, following the snaky hips of a black haired beauty to a conference room set up with four linen covered tables and a huge bar. Hm. Small affair. Bucky greets us. He’s a tall smiley teddy bear of a fellow who talks lovingly of his six year old boy. I’m sure he’d rather be reading a bedtime story to him right now instead of making small talk with us.

Sandra jumps in, affable. She introduces us and explains how we met. She had seen my play Espresso and loved it so much she invited me over for dinner! I return with letting them know Sandra is a published author of a beautiful new book called The Passionate Embrace.

Bucky says, “You see, men would never do that.”

Do what?

“Invite the other guy out for dinner.”

Wouldn’t you invite a guy out for a beer if you liked his work, then?

“Oh…well…maybe…but you women are so much better at reaching out.”

And then Cherub pipes in, “Oh yes. Women create community.”

Sandra and I look at each other from the sides of our eyes. It is a very Cool Aid moment and we haven’t even had our salad.

A tiny frosted lady about the size of the dancer inside my daughter’s jewellery box, is all wound up and ready to talk. I will call her Bonnie. Bonnie is from Toronto. She gets a huge heckle from the big boned girls with the large portfolios behind us. Bonnie controls what we eat. She talks first and subjects us to an impossible quiz then we’re offered our salads.

One of the quiz questions is: “30% of all women fear losing everything and becoming bag ladies – true or false”. (by the way, this is false, because apparently 50% of all women fear losing everything and becoming bag ladies) Bonnie explains to the privileged ladies around her what a bag lady is. Apparently it’s a woman who lives on the street and carries around bags. It’s similar to women who fear they might end up eating cat food. It should be noted, amazingly (honestly how do they get these amazing statistics?!) that no man on earth is afraid of eating cat food. (does this mean men enjoy eating cat food, or they’re just never going to pay the $1.89 for Whiska’s Captain’s Catch when they can order a cheese burger at Wendy’s for the same price?)

We eat our salad. Everyone drinks more wine, except for me and Sandra.

Then Bonnie talks some more before we’re offered the entrée. I wish she had control over the liquor because there’s a table of middle aged blonde highlighted early retirees behind me who are already getting loud and obnoxious, emitting the smell of used hosiery.

Then we examine three hapless women and their financial choices. One woman gives all her savings to her son so he can go to medical school, another woman is widowed and has no idea what and where the money is. The last poor girl gave all of her inheritance to her husband who convinced her to put it into his failing business, then he was a little shit to her. She can’t divorce him, however, because all the money is in his name. Bonnie lets us know that all women, by nature of our gender, are too trusting, too uninformed, and give too much away to other people.

Sandra can’t stand it anymore and counters with something about the value of love, sharing and trust. This isn’t necessarily foolish. And isn’t it a vote of non-confidence to withhold money just “in case” the marriage doesn’t work out? Sandra is newly married and when the women at our table find out her husband is younger than her, they hoot and shout and joke she won’t be a widow for as long.

The whole evening erupts in little volcanos of sexism all around us as women snarl about ex husbands, inhospitable work places, cheap ass parents and greedy kids who should get a student loan instead. Bonnie warns that we all must save $849,000.00 more than our husbands if we want to retire and not run out of money because the average woman is widowed at the age of 56. (the only statistic I actually believe) She outlines the grasshopper woman, the ant woman (the whole room nods and agrees that they are tight wad little ants) and then the ostrich. The last dignified animal is me and I greatly resent the photo she has of me.

At this point the servers, all male, bring in plates of filet mignon. My stomach is tied up into knots. It’s upsetting material we’re covering: money, divorce, wills, pensions….but mostly I am very upset by the constant outrageous sexist remarks. I mean, seriously. Bonnie jokes about everything from men who don’t take directions to men who grow ear flaps whenever a woman says “We need to talk”. She boldly says that men are pessimistic, untrusting and self centred. She gives us some “very real advice”: never talk to a man making eye contact. Sit beside him and let him “tinker away at his car” while you talk about money.

It is a truly carnivorous environment. I look around me at these women driving knives into these round plump balls of meat, blood splattering on white linen, and I can’t help think that they’re butchering testicles.

I nibble a great deal of asparagus this evening.

I ask the time and Sandra says ‘nine-thirty”, oh my God, I’ve been here for over three hours, I have to go relieve my sitter. Cherub completely understands. She seems embarrassed, and poor Cherub is stuck here until the end. Sandra stands up immediately, “I have to go too!” Haha, which reveals to me how detestable she finds the evening and we leave Bonnie wound up and overwhelmed by the drunken bloody hoarders surrounding her.

Sandra and I burst out of Gotham like two bats out of hell and laugh at the outrageousness of the evening.

I’ve never been so happy to see Mini the Blue waiting for me at the curb in all her cuteness.

I vow to myself to pull my head out of the sand and be a better money manager, if nothing else, to never feel the need to attend a conference like this again.

The best part of the evening is the drive home: hearing Sandra talk about marriage. How her love came unexpectedly. How sharing is so easy. How she was content to be single and yet so very very happy to be living with her dear husband. They really are two peas in a pod. She says, “I have never been happier”.


The Passionate Embrace: a beautiful book about Faith, Flesh and Tango by Sandra Vander Schaaf

She gives me a kiss and bounds up her stairs and I think to myself, “There goes one of the richest women in the world.”










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  1. Darcy

    I laughed AND cringed.

    We balding, middle aged, middle class white men are pretty-much used to being the last safe punch line to jokes. As a demographic we could use some humility – just ask my kids, friends and long-suffering wife.

    It seems in financial planning (as with other commodities) fear and discontent sell much better than hope or gratefulness. I think that the world is BIG and BEAUTIFUL and I am a small part of it. I am grateful.

    Ciao ‘cia.


    1. Lucia Frangione

      xo D – ! It was interesting watching the other men in the room. They looked sort of guilty for being male and also a little frightened as the volume and liquor consumption increased…

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