By Wendy Hodge
It is Saturday. A rare kind of Saturday. It’s only one o’clock, and my errands are done. The house is clean. The fridge is stocked with food. My parents are taken care of. My kids are good. I am on my couch, movie playing and dogs snoring. Conditions are perfect for a nap. The sun is warm through the windows and my eyes are heavy.
I cannot nap during the day. Just can’t do it. The moment my body relaxes and sleep peeks around the corner, my brain says, “Nope. Let’s replay the events of the day, relive memories both good and bad from as far bas as 40 years or so, and have a long, serious, emotional conversation with ourselves.”
Today’s nap-halting topic: My encounter with an acquaintance last Saturday.
It happened at the Kroger. Tiger Town is hell on wheels on a game day Saturday. I am well aware of this fact, but still I found myself cruising the healthy food aisle (even though we all know I never purchase one single thing from that entire section – it’s a sham I indulge in before heading to the chips/snacks/candy aisle), bumping elbows with sub and soda shoppers who were just as eager to get home as I was.
I had finally edged my way to the candy bars, and the Milky Ways were within reach, when I heard someone call my name. She’s an acquaintance, more of a Facebook friend really. We chatted for a moment, asking about family and work. She’s sweet, but I can’t remember where on earth I ever actually met her….
And then, she pointed to the Wonder Woman t-shirt I was wearing and said, “You really think that’s a good idea?”
I looked down at myself, expecting to see remnants of my lunch. “You mean wearing a t-shirt to Kroger?” I asked.
“No. This thing you have for Wonder Woman. You post about her on Facebook all the time. Is she really the kind of hero you want to promote?”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” I answered, sensing that this conversation was heading south quickly.
“Well… I mean… Wonder Woman. Isn’t that an impossible standard to live up to? No little girl grows up to be Wonder Woman. Shouldn’t we keep things real?” She looked at me with genuine concern on her face, as if she might consider an intervention. I could picture her scooping up my Wonder Woman bobble head, coffee mug, and assorted action figures off my desk at work and tossing them into a cardboard box before shuttling me off to a rehab facility specializing in superhero obsession.
I just smiled at her and said, “It was so good to see you… Really gotta run!” There simply was not enough energy in my soul to even muster a reply. Wonder Woman was surely disappointed in my cowardly retreat.
And here I am, a week later, replaying her words. Did she have a point? Was my shameless display of Wonder Woman on my t-shirt in the local supermarket a message to girls and women everywhere that they are doomed to fail if they can’t stop bullets in mid-air? Had I, in my desire to promote fierce women, actually done more harm than good?
It’s true that I have a fascination with her, dating back to the 70s when I was a little girl sitting on the living room floor watching Lynda Carter in the original Wonder Woman TV series. She was a whirl of magic bullets and astonishing physical attributes (I once stapled paper plates to my shirt in an effort to create a Wonder Woman-like bust, after which my brother called me “Wonder Woman in a Training Bra”). But Wonder Woman is so much more once you get to know her.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t covet a lasso of truth. In the summer of ’77 (same year as the paper plate fiasco), I fashioned one of my own using nothing but aluminum foil and an old rope. The silver foil I covered with gold marker until it glowed, wrapped it around the rope, and secured it with at least three rolls of Scotch tape. Before the afternoon was over, my hands, face and clothes were smeared with gold-colored marker, and I had rope burns from trying to lasso and tame the willow tree stump in the backyard. But, oh, the adventures I had!
Years later, as a mom, my kids often asked if I had some magic way of knowing when they were lying to me. And I did. It’s a gift given to moms when their first child is born. A feeling under the skin when something is not quite right. It doesn’t come in the shape of a lasso, but it is rarely wrong about the truth.
Then there’s the invisible jet. Don’t we all wish we had one parked in the yard that we could hop into and fly away? Well… maybe I do. Last Saturday, after I fled the conversation with my anti-superhero friend, what did I do? I walked into the parking lot and performed my well-rehearsed ritual of wandering through the parking lot looking for my car. Sometimes I walk quickly, head down, as if I know exactly where I am headed. More often, I will call a friend and talk on my phone, just to pass the time until I spot my sad little vehicle way off in the distance. Occasionally my best friend will offer to come drive me around and help me in my search. My Corolla is, I swear, occasionally invisible.
And hasn’t it taken me on many adventures? Up and down interstates and country roads, my battered little Toyota has gotten me from point A to point B and from one surprise destination to another for quite some time now. I am confident that I am the only one who looks at it and sees it for what it really is… and for the memories it holds.
Of course, we can’t forget Wonder Woman’s love interest. Steve Trevor, dashing and handsome military intelligence officer… seemingly perfect, but decidedly flawed. How intelligent can a guy be if a pair of glasses is all it takes to make the love of his unrecognizable? But, oh, I had such a crush on him. My little girl heart could barely stand to look at that thick dark hair and that sideways smile. To this day, I carry a soft spot for Wonder Woman’s boyfriend. Through the years and the comics and the TV shows and the movies, she loved Steve Austin. And so did I.
Wonder Woman is not just a superhero princess wrapped in a skin-tight American flag. She is a lover of truth. A brave adventurer. A loyal woman with a genuine heart. Aren’t those all attributes we want our daughters to strive for? Aren’t they what we all want for ourselves at whatever age we may be?
So, for my “friend” in Kroger, I have to say, “Yes. Yes, I do think my t-shirt is a good idea. If some little girl, or 60-year-old grandma for that matter, looks at what I’m wearing and feels a moment of courage or power or joy or gratitude, then yes! As for keeping it real…. The world is real enough all on its own. Isn’t there room for a higher standard? Don’t we want our girls to reach upward and outward? Would you like to borrow my Wonder Woman t-shirt?”
Forget the nap…. I’m going to Kroger to get a whole pack of Milky Ways!
Wendy Hodge is an Opelika native, an empty nester and lover of all things Opelika.