Untitled

I didn’t think I’d revisit the Breakfast Club movie anytime soon, but I’m a lot more open to watching things again under the circumstances. (If you’re reading this in fifty years and no one is around, we had a Pandemic in 2020.) Anyway. I was thinking about this one part, where the kid writes the required essay, ending with, ‘In the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions, what we found is that each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basketcase and a criminal.’

Through all their shenanigans, these kids manage to see each other as whole, and to realize that names are often assigned without permission. But does knowing that change how we see ourselves? It doesn’t feel great being pushed inside a box and labeled accordingly. Nerd. Soccer mom. Smarty pants. Widow. Now the last one might have you thinking that, yes, that is a very true description of some women’s status. But I have to tell you that the first time I saw it on a government document, I felt very put out.

I looked at that piece of paper and felt truly startled. And perplexed. I thought, I’m not a widow. I’m still married. To a dead man. Yes, okay, that might make you want to apply that word. It may speak to you. But it doesn’t speak to me.

In my mind, it paints two different pictures. Jackie Onassis in a beautiful dress with a black veil over her face. And Snow White’s step mother. Neither feels remotely like me. I still feel married. And I rarely wear black, or try to feed innocent girls poison apples. I wanted to sit down and write the Canadian government a letter, but you know what bureaucracy is like. I mean, I’m not willing to go to court over this. I just think that I should get to decide when to apply that word. Maybe when I’m eighty-five. Certainly not when I still speak to the guy at all hours of the day and have to remind myself not to talk to him in the Co-op. After reading this, you’ll probably want to apply the label, ‘kooky,’ to me. That’s okay. I’m willing to wear that hat. (I know, I already do. Don’t worry…it doesn’t hurt my feelings.)

So if you think of me, feel free to use any description you like as long as it’s not widow. Just say, ‘She’s married to that dead guy, Clarence.’ That will do for now.

Published by Judith Anne Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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