Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Scarlet Women

Scarlet jewellery and ribbon on a book
It is about time I tell the story of the Scarlet Women.  Let me begin by saying that I have been blessed with some incredible friendships.  My best friend Bethany is my dearest and oldest friend.  I cannot even remember a time I did not know her.  And despite the fact that we haven't lived in the same state since we were 11 and now do not even live on the same continent we still keep in touch through, email, skype and pinterest, of course.  Although I was blessed with this strong friendship I was apparently not given strong roots to go with it.  I seem to be a bit of a wanderer.  Or an exile.  So it was that I found myself at two different schools for undergrad and yet another for a masters program in self chosen exile while I pursued my academic destiny.  Yet, as hard as those transitions were I wouldn't trade them for anything.  My life would be sadly lacking without the amazing friends I found in all these places.  That is how I first found the group of friends that was to become the Scarlet Women.

Being a very mad person indeed I had decided that I needed to transfer universities mid-way through my career.  Not only did I need to transfer, I needed to move further across the country (I grew up in CA, started university in Chicago, IL, and finished in VA), and I needed to do it in the middle of the year.  I couldn't possibly transfer in the fall with a whole class of new freshman and normal transfers.  No.  I had to transfer in January.  And so it was that I found myself at The College of William and Mary mid-way through the year with a handful of other transfer students.  We adopted each other and soon became a transfer family.  We grew very close and had many adventures, including the formation of our own tribe, the building of a cardboard castle, and the creation of the Church of Coffee.  But the story I want to tell you about now is how we became the Scarlet Women.

While we were dueling, holding tribal dances, and partaking of the sacred liquid we also went to class.  We went to lots of classes, did lots of work and met lots of other students.  One summer my friend, who we will call Carmine San Diego, was attending a class in anthropology among other subjects.  It was a discussion based class with not too many people in it and since she is a nice and friendly person she would smile and say hello to all her fellow students when she met them around campus, including a student we will simply call Guy.  Guy had also been in one of her other classes the previous semester.  Carmine San Diego had crossed paths with Guy several times.  She had always smiled and said hello and he had smiled back.  One day while heading to Wawa, the magical purveyor of milkshakes and other late night treats she ran into Guy again.

On this particular day she asked how he was and after a brief and polite exchange he went on his way.  That seemed fairly normal.  Later that day he found her on facebook, they were not friends, and he wrote on her wall.  He asked "Do you stop and talk with all random strange men on the street or is it just me?"  Well, aside from being outright rude, this was an utterly astonishing thing to ask.  If you have two classes with someone you are hardly a random stranger off the street.  And why would you spend time searching for someone on facebook just to insult them?  Carmine San Diego told another friend at dinner and they started laughing about it.  Suddenly insults were flying back and forth.  "You say hi to your classmates?  You are such a brazen hussy!" "Trollop." "Strumpet." "You should wear a scarlet letter."  And that is how the Scarlet Women were born.  Carmine San Diego was the first scarlet woman and we all joined the ranks.  If smiling at people and making polite conversation makes you a strumpet then we were all guilty of being scarlet women.

As with most things in our group we took the idea of Scarlet Women and ran with it.  We gave each other red things and wore red as a badge of honour.  You have to laugh about these things.  There is just no point in being insulted by idiots.  Now, clearly saying hi to people was promiscuous.  So, if we were scarlet for saying hello to people I don't even want to know what he thought about the sorority girls on campus.  So, naturally the sorostitutes and the scarlets were engaged in territory wars.  We "worked the corner" by Wawa where our whole existence began and where the milkshakes lived.  That is, we went there often to get milkshakes (you wouldn't see a sorority girl there they were too busy being worried about gaining weight and not fitting in their perfect white dresses with matching pearl necklaces.)  They had sorority court further down the street.

From then on whenever we went to Wawa for milkshakes we would laugh about working our territory.  Whenever we wore red it was in pride of membership.  You have to be a little bit proud.  Think about, if someone is so overwhelmed by a polite hello that they call you scarlet, then you've got it going on.  So, if you have ever been insulted without cause, told you were scarlet or slutty for a perfectly acceptable skirt, called a tart for standing with your hips a little asymmetrically,  or someone implied that you were promiscuous when you were simply going about your day, then you are a Scarlet Woman.  A woman of such class and beauty that mere mortals cannot handle you.  Let's face it, they are just intimidated and envious of your natural class and charm.  Don't let them bother you.  Stay classy.  Take their insults as a compliment.  Wear a little bit of red, a ring, a pin or maybe a scarf and just smile.

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