One day I am walking back to apartment building that has my office in it and Anne, the woman of home coming potential, asks would I want to go to a movie. I am a bit perplexed. It’s like noon for one thing. So what exactly is she talking about? There’s a matinee she says at a nearby theatre showing the The Four Musketeers (1974). I had read about the movie and knew it was directed by Richard Lester, the guy who had directed the Beatle movies. I hesitate because a) I haven’t been to a movie in a long time and b) I hadn’t been to a movie with a woman since I didn’t know when. But “OK” I say.
I still think the Four Musketeers is the best of all the Three Musketeer movies and certainly the best of all the Four Musketeer Movies. It had like Michael York, and the Doctor Kildare guy in it. And Racquel Welch. So we go to the movie, get a good laugh, talk a bit and go our separate ways.
Hell, I don’t know what was going on if anything. I went to her house once and I can only say her husband was none to friendly. And they sort of started sub-bickering with each other about something. I felt awkward pretty quickly. But I got to meet her kid who was a nice little kid. Maybe she had wanted to see that movie and her husband hadn’t wanted to. Or maybe she just didn’t want to go home that day? And I do understand that while I like to go to movies by myself this isn’t the case with most people.
I went to my 40th high school reunion. That was sort of like a bad LSD trip. But one thing I noticed. A lot of the women there seemed pretty tired out. They had all been part of that first big group of women in American history to feel the pull of career as well as family. Also women’s lib hit the whole generation really hard. Seemed like every woman I knew—true, that was very few—had a copy of My Body, Myself stashed away somewhere.
I don’t know what it was like. But it must have been, well, liberating, and also damn hard. They all seemed to have been married once at least and then divorced. Getting divorced when your mother hadn’t gotten divorced, and striking out on your own to make your own life in your own body when your mother probably hadn’t done that had to have been pretty scary stuff. The shift from being largely a mobile uterus and a source of free labor to a person who happened to have a uterus and who deserved to get paid just as much for her work as anybody else—well, that was a pretty big switch.
That’s what Anne—of home coming potential did—or at least I heard. Eventually she and her husband split, and she used her Masters degree, with a dissertation on Henry James, to get a job as a community college teacher. Come to think of it—getting married, divorced, and starting a life of one’s own seems to be true of every day woman I knew from that period (admittedly a small sampling). And then, of course, the Equal Rights Amendment didn’t pass, and the light at the end of the tunnel that had prompted many of these women to go on a new path turned dark again under a general gloom.