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Significant Others

She's Got a Ticket to Cry

Pulled over on the whizzing highway that is her life

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, March 13, 2005; Page W55

I am not crying because I feel cheated, wronged or mistreated. I'm not grieving, depressed or filled with some unusually high concentration of self-loathing. I am crying because every once in a while a woman needs a good weep, and apparently this is my time.

This is a terrible time to lose it. It's a cliche! I'm sitting in my car, on the side of a highway, and behind me is a Maryland state trooper writing me up. He's got all those lights flashing hysterically. And why doesn't he just go ahead and turn on the siren? In fact, bring on the helicopters and the live news team, too. Let the people know there is a woman here, sobbing in her car, nabbed for excessive speed.

I am not crying about the ticket. I am far more woman than that. In fact, I am having quite the woman-power day. Or at least I was.

This morning, I was having a fancy meeting at the White House, of all places. That is not something I usually do. I had to wear heels and I had to wear pantyhose and my hair was doing a weird back-flip thing I had to pretend to ignore. I had to hurry. I had to turn off my BlackBerry, which was buzzing with e-mails from a male colleague who was having a fight with another male colleague, and both were expecting me to be the mama tending their wounds and facilitating peace. I had to stop twitching with the reminder that, yep, I have become the kind of person who carries a BlackBerry. I had to remember to call my mother back and tell her my sister isn't mad at her, after all. I had to be professional. I had to hurry! I had to figure out a way of getting those fancy White House people to finish their talking so I could do my air kisses and say goodbye and then run like a maniac to my car so I could zoom home and get my daughter to her gymnastics class. Not just any gymnastics class. Today is "parent participation day," and on the trampoline I am expected to do a "seat drop."

I am Woman!

I am Woman, and this is how I roar: Boo-hoo, wah, wah, wah.

I can't seem to stop crying. And don't tell me it's hormonal. Telling someone her tears are hormone-induced is to say they aren't real, don't matter, will be gone as soon as her endocrine system gets a better grip. It is to say that the normal colliding pressures of working woman/mom/peacemaker/daughter/seat dropper are not alone quite enough to allow the occasional collapse into tears, especially when topped by a speeding ticket. It is also, in my case, to deny the fact that I once was a person who got a lot of speeding tickets, but I haven't gotten one in more than five years. I am reformed! I am a better person than this! I am having a day of woman power, and this little cop

interference is probably going to mean I now really have to speed to get to gymnastics on time. Boo-hoo, wah, wah, wah.

"Ma'am?" the cop says. He's standing out there now, just outside my window, with his little clipboard thing. "Ma'am?"

"What?" I mutter into my coat.

"Are you okay?"

I nod in the affirmative, the super-fast way that communicates the opposite.

"Look, it's just a speeding ticket," he says, handing me the clipboard and pointing to where I sign. "It doesn't mean you're a bad person."

I let that thought hang in the air a moment. Then I burst into sobs.

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