“How To Tell If You’re A Lady In A 1950s Melodrama,” by Joy Lanzendorfer

May 11th, 2016 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

Everything is your fault. If you were a good girl, you wouldn’t have gotten into that car accident.

Your life is accompanied by a swelling musical score that sounds like classical music, but it’s not. It’s really, really not.

When you come home late from a date, your mom calls the doctor to make sure your hymen is still intact.

You stand for good old American things like tobacco farms, insurance companies, oil fields, and lawyers.

You’re very concerned with what “They” think. They may think you’re cheap or a tramp. They may shun or pity you. Point is, without Them, your life has no conflict.

Sure, his relentless stalking caused an accident that made you go blind, and then he pretended to be someone else to make you fall in love with him, but he’s a great guy, and you won’t have people pitying him for marrying a blind woman. The only solution is to go away and love him from afar.

You will wear a blanket robe made of dead animal skins and you will love it.

Pop quiz: Having sex could A. make you go insane, B. make others go insane, C. cause your fiancé to start binge drinking, D. get you pregnant? Answer: All of the above.

Your boyfriend is the same age as your dad. This doesn’t strike you as odd.

Men with drinking problems are sexy to you. His relentless boozing may make him crash speedboats or punch out strangers, but you understand that he’s repressing deep emotional pain that can only be healed by alcohol, or your love. What else is he supposed to do, cry?

Your friend’s husband sexually assaulted you because you wore red, a color women only wear for attention.

Right when you come back to tell him you love him, he falls off a cliff.

At some point, you’ll have to choose between High Society and Real Salt-of-the-Earth People.

Someone was peeping at you. To be fair, you were dressing in front of a window at the time.

Just when things can’t get any worse, someone slips into a coma.

You have to choose between telling everyone that you killed your step-dad in self-defense and risk your boyfriend dumping you for being “that kind of girl,” or go to jail for murder.

You have never seen a black person.

You don’t want to have to make up your own mind. You want him to make it up for you.

The man you love is probably gay in real life.

You’re a conventional person who wants to do slightly less conventional things, like live in a renovated mill or not go to that cocktail party at the country club.

His kiss impacts you like the crashing of cymbals, makes you tremble like salmon aspic, and ignites a fire in your loins more dangerous than communism.

You play bridge a lot.


Defenestration-Joy Lazendorfer 2Joy Lanzendorfer’s work has been in The Atlantic, Mental Floss, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many others. You can follow her @JoyLanzendorfer.

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