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Thursday, March 25, 2010


In high school, I really, really wanted to go to the prom, and to me, pretty much the only thing worse than not going at all was going alone. There was this guy I knew, and to him, the only thing better than sliced bread was yours truly, and he made no secret of his crush. I, meanwhile, didn't make much of a secret that his crush wasn't reciprocated. But when prom time came around? You better believe I asked him to go with me. I totally used the poor boy. And if, for some reason, he's reading this, I'm sorry.

But I'm going to confess that I totally use my job. I know that I seem pretty rad and outgoing and great and all on the internet, but in real life (IRL), I'm still rad, but I'm shy. Sometimes, I try to push myself to go out with friends or to reach out and talk to someone at the gym, especially if they've given any sort of clue that they might be a bit of an activist. Without help, my "conversation starters" are along the lines of, "I have a cat!" But with help? "You said you're involved in working against domestic violence? I'd love to hear more about it. I work at Anonymous Clinic and we see a lot of patients who have gone through that." I throw in Anonymous Clinic's name and magically, I'm interesting and engaged and involved and coherent for once.

And I use the powers for good, too, like when my dear, life-long friend casually mentioned, "I picked him up from the airport and we didn't feel like stopping to buy condoms, and the sex was great--" I'm not an interrupter, but I damn well interrupted her and said, "When was this? Was it Saturday night? I can get you a discount on Plan B. We're going to the clinic right now."

But then, there was the infamous housewarming party. I had gone alone and I think the closest any of the other attendees had come to abortion was voting for Obama. I'm not sure how it happened, but I started talking about abortion. And the clinic. It just sort of came out like abortion Tourette's Syndrome, if we're being politically incorrect. Before I knew it, I was regaling this crowd with descriptions of the procedure and explaining why "partial birth abortion" is a myth. Who knows what kind of eye rolling there was after I left, but boy, howdy, was I the center of attention for a hot second.

The event that reminded me of this habit of mine was running into my neighbor last week. She's a lovely person, but she is a chatty person, and clearly, I'm not. I'd never really talked with her before, which didn't stop her, and I was trapped for a good 15 minutes, sweating and fidgeting and trying to act like a normal person and have a normal conversation. And then, she asked what I do for a living. I could have said I worked in healthcare, and left it at that. But my desperation was such and my palms were so sweaty that I volunteered, "I work at an abortion clinic. Yup." The reason for this was that I hoped a tiny bit, for once in my life, that she was an anti and that she would have disdain for me that she would just stop talking and let me go inside my apartment. Of course, she was unfazed, and of course, she followed it up with the dreaded, "I just don't think abortion should be used as birth control." And there I was dealing with the most uncomfortable amalgamation of a lecture fraught with social justice, social anxiety, and general anger. And I still wasn't inside my apartment where I wanted to be.

So, yes, dear reader, I use my job. But I will tell you this: I would absolutely ask my job to the prom, and not just because I would need a date. I would ask it because I totally have a mad crush on my job.

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