RHYS BOWEN: Okay sorry but this is going to be a minor rant.
I’ve just returned from a few book events around the country and something annoying happened to me on a regular basis: an agent at the airport or rental car center or hotel would look at me, then the man standing ahead or behind me and ask, “Are you together?” When I go into an upscale restaurant I’ve been asked, “Are you waiting for someone?” As if shocked that a woman of a certain age should dare to eat alone.
I bet.a man standing in line has NEVER been asked “are you together” indicating a lady standing behind him. I was once standing in line for a rental car. Although an agent appeared to be free I was not called forward. Eventually I asked if the agent wasn't free. "Oh, I thought you'd be with that gentleman," he replied. It never crossed his mind that I was alone, and was going to have the audacity to take a car out, by myself.
(And in case you think I look like a little old lady when I travel, here are some recent pix. With me in the fur coat is Robin Burcell)
As I’ve been watching the election and the Olympics and being bombarded with sexual stereotyping (Hilary raises her voice and she’s screeching. A male raises his voice and he’s being assertive). Female athletes have their appearance commented on all the time.. Do you ever hear the commentator say of a male volleyball player, “He’s looking hunky today?” And what about the one athlete whose headline read “Wife of Chicago Bulls Player wins gold.” Never mentioning her name or her sport.
Well, I’ve decided not to take it any more. Each time I was asked if I was with someone I’ve replied, “ Is it now against the law for a woman over fifty to travel alone?”
And when they ask in that restaurant if I’m waiting for someone I reply, “Only if I get lucky”
And I’ve found a way to make sure I get good service after that. I never take the first table I am offered, especially if it’s near the rear or the kitchen. I say “I prefer to sit over here, thank you” and walk over to the nicest table. And as soon as I sit I say “I’m on business and I don’t have long. Please send over the somelier with your wine list” and I order something unpronounceable (or at least something that I can pronounce and most people can’t). Then the word goes out that I might be difficult and the service is excellent!
So let’s take a stand, dear Reds of a certain age. Let them know that just because we are older women we do not sit at home crocheting, or go out playing bingo. And we don’t need a man to travel with!
Do share your stories! Have you experienced the same kind of put downs?
At least we writers have one secret weapon. When someone particularly annoys me I take a good look at them and think, "Careful or you'll wind up dead in my next book!"