Apples don't just fall from trees
When you’re young, and the pretty, popular, and physically developed people start taking an interest in each other at school, parents rely on an age-old metaphor to explain why that starry-eyed romance hasn’t happened to you yet. See people are like apples; and the ones lower on the tree are the easiest to pick, so that’s what people do. At the time, being easiest to pick meant to me that they were more outwardly beautiful, and thus obvious choices for the metaphorical picking. The apples high up on the tree, as the saying goes, were better (probably pesticide-free), but harder to reach, and so only few and far between would attempt to do so. According to my parents, I was a high up apple and so I would have to wait for some sort of organic food craze before people would become interested in me.
Fast forward a few years, and it slowly dawned on me (ok perhaps literally as I began to write this article) that my position in the tree was less dictated by beauty – you’ve seen my pictures, I’m gorgeous – but by personality and politics. I can’t begin to recount the amount of attractive, decent suitors I’ve rejected because they turned out to be ignorant assholes. But ALSO, what of the suitors who were ignorant but had potential? I made a decision recently to reserve my emotional labor for causes I believed in. Bar-time lectures and fighting with ‘devil’s advocates’ white men who seem to have an endless supply of time and ignorance on their hands are not those causes. Thus my position on the tree rose even further because now I’m not only a feminist killjoy, I’m a feminist killjoy who refuses to explain herself, sugar coat herself, or pander to the patriarchy for a dose of self-esteem… even if that does leave me feeling a little unwanted at times.
The real kicker for me has come recently, when I realized this same metaphor can be applied to friendships. What an absolute pain! Like I don’t have enough problems trying to find someone with more than two brain cells to rub together, to fantasize about the romantic impossibilities? Now I have to be en guard in my friendships too?
Some time in fourth grade – or was it fifth? – a new girl came to our school. Her name, which I’ll change for privacy purposes, was Katy Watts. Initially, she took a liking to me, and invited me around to her house, and her beach house, and her valley house, and her dollhouse (she had all the property). The problem was, I didn’t like this girl. She was tacky, obnoxious, and a pain to be around. So I went to my father for advice, and he told me the same thing he’s been telling me for years: accept the good in people and leave the bad. I may be embellishing a little here; what he actually said was ‘use her for her beach house’. But what the hell kind of beach-time fun can you have when you’re being dragged around like a ragdoll by the incorrigible Panamanian riche? That simply would not do. Instead, I began to distance myself from her, though the coup de grace was indeed hers. What I had failed to realize was that the bitch was not going out without a fight. She had rounded up some other new friends and written a letter to my friends, explaining how everyone could absolutely get along as long as I was not in the picture. If I remember correctly, they straight up said “we don’t like Taña, and if you continue to hang out with her we won’t like you either”.
Well fuck me. My father’s plan certainly started to sound more appealing in the light of Regina George-gate.