Let me start by confessing that most of my true educational milestones came from watching television. An avid fan of the TV show The Monkees, I once pulled out a dictionary when Frank Zappa guest starred on an episode and used the words “banal” and “insipid.” Sidebar: he was in fact referring to The Monkees’ music, but I had no idea this was an insult until after I pulled out the old Webster’s. When banal appeared on my SAT, I had Frank Zappa to thank for getting that one correct!
Growing up in a strict catholic household, everything I learned about sex was also directly a result from too much time in front of the TV. I thought everyone kissed like those actors on my grandmother’s soap operas. And when HBO aired Revenge of the Nerds my world was literally rocked. I have spent half of my post pubescent life waiting to make out with someone named Stan in a Darth Vader mask on one of those blow-up bouncy space things.
Where am I going with this? Well, a few years ago I was watching The L Word. Yup, the show that encouraged me to both cut my hair into the perfect Sally Her- shberger shag and start wearing more leather. Once, on an episode of The L Word, the lovely ladies are all at dinner and one says to the group, “Did you know that when male lobsters get tossed into a pot, they build a ladder to help each other try and escape, but female lobsters actually pull each other down, dragging everyone to the bottom so they can all die together?”
Now, for the record, I have NO IDEA if this is actually a true scientific fact (Google this if you want to see a total mishmash of con icting opinions from everyone except experts in crustacean civilities.) However, what I will tell you is that this forced me to think about my female relationships in a different way.
From that point on, I started to observe my current female friendships more closely, as well as look back at friendships from the past. Clearly there were times I was in the proverbial pot with other lady lobsters. Is this theory true? Sadly, I felt like there had been times where I was not behaving like a very good lady lobster myself, giving in to petty gossip and “pulling down” others at girls dinners and outings.
Ugh. Upon reflection, these dinners just didn’t feel right to me anymore. The relationships that were built on this type of “camaraderie” did not feel like places I wanted to be. And look, I’m not professing total innocence but I did make a conscious effort to take stock of who was in my proverbial pot and how they (and I) were behaving.
I also started to think about my career and realized that, I could count on two hands the number of highly successful men that have helped me in business and sadly much less, the number of women.
I then thought about the Lady Lobsters from which I hail ….my grandmother Lucille was a maverick entrepreneur and a business dynamo in the 1960s. At a time when women were supposed to just look pretty and perform vital tasks like hollow out watermelons for Jell-O molds, Lucille was a pioneer, carving out a new life for herself in the then unknown town of Montauk, and becoming one of the most successful business owners in the area. I know members of my own family just shook their heads at her “crazy idea” of opening a resort and becoming an independent and celebrated woman to be reckoned with…I can only imagine the harsh lady lobster treatment she endured because she “clawed” her way down her own path (and out of that damned pot!)
Then, I started to think about how my own posse of lady lobsters have treated me through my various ups and downs. I’ve had fantastic business successes and spectacular failures. I went through an excruciating long struggle with infertility (caused by endometriosis and my personal diagnosis: too many martinis) that happily ended with welcoming my baby girl into this world. And through this, I realized that the best lady lobster –the one with whom I want to share my pot – is yes, the one that is right there beside you on your hardest day but (and this is EQUALLY IMPORTANT) who is also there for you on your BEST day. That friend that looks you in the eyes and tells you she is proud of you and you believe her because she too is crying with joy after hearing that Mickey Dolenz responded to your fan letter and she doesn’t even like The Monkees (you should go and download the Greatest Hits right now. I’ll wait.)
I chose to be kinder, to listen more to the needs of my girlfriends, and to encourage rather than to pull apart. It is so much easier to build someone up and support them than it is to pull them down and the more I began to do that, the more I saw and felt that kind actions were bestowed upon me by other Lady Lobsters. I even began to meet amazing Lady Lobsters that I don’t think I would have come across if I stayed pot-locked in my old habits.
I totally get that it is in our human nature to look at what others have and covet their lives and yes, I think women do that more than men. “The grass is always greener” is one of the most overused, tired catchphrases I know. But my career has allowed me to see some great lawns, and let me tell you, unless you are happy with YOU, every- one’s grass always will appear greener.
What kind of lobster are you? What kind of ladies are in your pot? I think if we all pause and amp up the kindness to each other, we may just make that ladder and not end up on a plate next to the coleslaw.