Archive for August 12th, 2011


Back in Mad Men Days

on August 12, 2011 in Misc Comments Off on Back in Mad Men Days

When I was a little kid I could play pretty rough with my sisters.  Or maybe it just seemed rough because they were older and bigger so I had to toughen up to level the playing field.

That field could be softball, where I learned to hit the ground after pitching to my oldest sister because she could slam a line drive that could flatten my face if I didn’t get out of the way.  It might be tether ball with my other sister, which with sibling rivalry run amock we could play until we were half dead with exhaustion.

And when we were really young we sometimes improvised at sword fighting.

I know we got the inspiration from swashbuckling movies and reruns of the very old Zorro shows.  I mean, Zorro had a cool cape and a sword and a HORSE!  (I ALWAYS WANTED A HORSE!).  The closest thing we could get to swords were long sticks or thin poles, and with those in hand we’d stab and whack at each other.  Happily no one was ever impaled.

Flash forward to adulthood.  As you know I’ve been fencing for a few years now.  Epee fencing, which I like because compared to the other weapons (foil and saber) it has the fewest rules and you can hit your opponent anywhere on the body.

But here’s the thing about telling people that you fence:  kids get it.  Kids REALLY get it and want to do it too.  These days their influences run more along the line of Star Wars and light sabers, but also Pirates of the Caribbean.  It’s the reaction of some adults that’s different.  Grownups sometimes give me a quizzical look and ask, “Fencing?  What got you into that?”  So I say, Well, you know when you were a kid and wanted to do sword fighting like in the movies….

And they give me a blank look.  Especially the women.  Some men light up as if remembering their own fantasies, and when I see them again they ask me how my “sword fighting” is going.  Most older women don’t mention it.  Most women my age and older are on the sidelines in the fencing club and watching their kids or grandkids fence while they knit or read a book.

And that’s when I realize that, unlike me, there were a lot of little girls around when I was growing up who pretty much stuck to dolls and sugar and spice and everything nice – i.e., EVERTHING THAT BORED ME TO TEARS!

OMG, things have changed so much.  And I’m so glad they’ve changed.  Now lots of little girls and adolescent girls and twenty-something young women are fencing and/or doing all kinds of fantastic sporty stuff. And they’re being supported and cheered on.

Wanna get an idea of how much things have changed?  When I was a kid I once looked through my oldest sister’s copy of Vogue magazine.  It had a layout of Peggy Fleming, the Olympic gold medalist in figure skating.  The gist of the article was that Fleming proved a woman could be an athlete and still be feminine and beautiful.

I mean, ARE YOU SHITTING ME?  PEOPLE REALLY THOUGHT LIKE THAT BACK THEN?

Sadly, yes they did.  It really was a Mad Men world.

When I was a kid and later a teenager, there were no book series like The Hunger Games trilogy, with a young Katniss who survives and feeds her family thanks to her skills with a bow and arrow (I LOVED archery).  But these days you can’t throw a book without hitting a whole series of YA and grownup novels, especially in the paranormal and fantasy genres, that have heroines who can wield swords and bows and spears (another almost deadly childhood weapon for me).  And the guys in the stories love them for it.  And the women reading those books love them for it.

Change can be a very good thing.