Bridesmaids, Bossypants and boobies
It’s been almost exactly two years since my last post. Two years!
I’ve thought about writing quite a bit. I have. But I’ve been held back by the powerful combination of business, laziness and a lack of confidence.
Well, I finally wrote something. And, look, here you are, willing to read it! It’s only polite to warn you that it involves, among other things, boobs. My boobs. And if reading about them is going to prevent you from sitting across from me in a discussion about making the logo bigger in our new print ad, or chit-chatting at the playground while one of our kids examines the cigarette butt he found on the slide, then you may want to reconsider reading.
So. The movie Bridesmaids (or, as my mom calls it, “Bachelorette”) comes out this weekend. I haven’t seen it yet, but the second I saw the trailer, I said, “Finally!” Finally, a quality comedy for the ladies. Now, I love the dude comedies: Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, that one with full-frontal Jason Segal, etc.
But, really, I have a yearly quota on how much I can take of a stoned Seth Rogen talking about masturbation. And everytime I see one of these movies, I leave the theater wondering when I’m gonna get the gal version. Now, this isn’t to say women don’t have some funny roles in these films, or that there aren’t some funny girl flicks. But I’ve been waiting for a comedy in the vein of those listed above that is written for the ladies, by the ladies. And Bridesmaids appears to be it.
A couple weeks ago, my comedy idol Tina Fey released a book, Bossypants. ( I haven’t read that yet, either, but it’s on my birthday wish list, so I’m hopeful it’s coming.) This book, along with Bridesmaids, seems to have sent certain circles of the media into a full-on lather over the State of the Funny Woman. Does she exist? If not, why? If so, do all funny women hate each other? And oh, please God, if they do hate each other, might they get into cat fights and tear each others’ shirts off, and maybe accidentally make out??? Blah blah intra-gender wars blah blah blah.
I really started thinking about woman-oriented comedy about the same time I wrote my last blog post in 2009. I had recently returned to work, leaving my then 4-month-old with a virtual stranger, and was dealing with the typical baby ha-has of little sleep, explosive diapers and projectile spit-up. (Okay, and the occassional “oh my God the kid just rolled off the bed while I was trying to take a picture of him being so cute and now my neglect is captured on camera and can be used against me in a court of law when child protective services tries to take him away.” But I guess technically that’s more scary than funny, and I don’t know how common it is.)
And there was another thing. Something I hadn’t ever seen in your standard “knocked up by an akward-but-cute teenager/beer-goggled one-night-stand/donor sperm with a case of mistaken identity” rom-com. Twice a day, there I was, perched on a not-so-mysteriously stained armchair in a well-secured, glofiried closet in my office building, engaged in the most absurd ritual of my new mommyhood: pumping.
I ask anyone who has experienced or witnessesed this act: is there anything more bizarre? Shirt hiked up (or worse, if you attempted to jazz-up your post partum work wardrobe with a dress), akwardly hunched while your poor nipples are rhythmically vacuumed into plastic flanges (the name in itself is riduculous – I actually just had to look it up, since hubs and I just called them “horns”).
Heaven forbid you try to double-pump while, say, reading a magazine – one false move, the horn is disloged and you’re precious cargo is lost to the carpet. (I know some of you use some sort of harness that allows you to go hands-free, and you’re laughing at me now; I was using a hand-me-down pump and was just glad if the motor didn’t crap out halfway through the endeavor, forcing me to go “manual.”)
And the noise, my God, the noise! It’s been a good 16 months since I packed the old pump away, but I’m still haunted by the “hee-haw, hee-haw” of the motor, and the little splashes that signaled that I was one squeeze closer to putting my bra back on. I can’t count the times I froze as I heard someone walk past the lactation station, squinting to assure myself that the door was, indeed, locked. I imagined the horror for the poor soul who made the mistake of opening that door, having indelibly burned into his or her brain the sight of me stripped to the waist, perusing a People magazine while the Medela chugged away.
In those moments, I was convinced that pumping – mishap or not – could be the pinnacle of female physical commedy – the equivalent of Ben Stiller zipping up his junk in There’s Something About Mary. Is it? I have to imagine Hollywood’s objection is that no male audience wants to see boobs that way. And maybe that women don’t want that, either. And maybe that’s why there aren’t more truely funny comedies for women – that we’re just not quite comfortable with not being sweet and/or sexy. Not comfortable revealing our flaws, our embarrassing weaknesses, our ridiculous, akward, sometimes obscene, often awesome selves.
Maybe there’s a pumping gag just right for Bridesmaids 2: Beyond the Dress. And maybe not. But regardless, I’d like to see more honest portrayals of women on screen. More Liz Lemons eating donuts in a tattered cardigan. More women acknowledging that it’s hard as hell – possibly impossible, and probably unecessary- to have or do it all, and even if you’re only trying to accomplish half, sometimes it’s going to look downright ridiculous or pathetic. More importantly, I’d like to see more women acknowledging that everyone feels this way, and so we might as well just admit it, to ourselves and anyone else we’re trying to impress. And we’d might as well laugh about it, because, well, what’s the alternative?