A few years ago, I found myself–against my better judgment–sitting in Enrichment Night being enriched on the subject of gardening. At the activity’s conclusion we all gathered around a long cultural-hall table covered with newspaper and began to sponge-paint terra cotta pots two shades of blue. This is the sort of activity at which I do not excel, and–not coincidentally–do not enjoy. However, I was then in the throes of one of my periodic give-church-programs-a-chance spasms. (“If just pray hard enough, God will transform me from a clutzy smart-mouth into a lilting sylph who enjoys HFPE! OK, so it wasn’t very realistic. Show me the human being who hasn’t had similar delusions.)
So I dutifully dabbed away at my pot and tried to achieve the two-toned spongey look then current. My pot looked pretty bad, which I didn’t hesitate to point out to the women around me (since I had neither any intention of taking the thing home nor any investment whatsoever in an image of myself as a pot-painter). But I had inadvertently evoked the monster that is feminine self-deprecation; they started falling all over themselves to announce, each louder than the last, that her pot looked MUCH WORSE than mine, that she was TERRIBLE at pot-painting, that she could NEVER, EVER paint or craft or do anything as well as hypothetical magical craft Sister X. I wanted to say, hey, wait a minute, this isn’t just ritual self-denigration–my pot really is bad! It’s OK! I don’t care! If just one person had turned to me and admitted it: “Eve, that is, quite simply, the sorriest excuse for a pot it has ever been my unfortunate privilege to behold” I would have laughed my head off in a fit of relief.
Later, however, I had a brief, lovely vision. I saw myself leaping onto the table, knocking pots and paints and sponges helter-skelter and holding my unlovely mottled pot high in the air. I saw myself proclaiming, “Sisters, this is the best DAMN pot you will ever see in all your born days. I am CRAFTMASTER! WORSHIP ME!”
I’m still just a little sorry I didn’t.