1. "I think Brooke will grow up to be the woman who reads books to kids at the library."
If memory serves this was uttered by one of my friends in the eighth grade. She said it front of our English and drama teacher (a woman who, despite teaching me and coaching me for a year, never managed to remember my name.) My teacher agreed wholeheartedly.
I like to think that my friend meant this as a positive comment on my character--I suppose it's not so bad if people think you are the type who would be generous and playful with children. Or maybe she was complimenting my acting ability and imagination. But I was struck by the fact that my friend did not say librarian, suggesting that my talent and ambition extended no further than spending time with kids who are not my own in a job that requires zero education and cannot possibly pay all that well.
2. "I could see you as a lesbian."
Senior year of high school I dated a guy for about two months. After we broke up, his ex-girlfriend before me picked a fight with me on AIM (we were not of the generation that learned how to pick fights face to face) and, in an attempt to rile me, called me a "dyke" (her words, not mine).
Barring the fact that I am not a lesbian, nor do I think there's anything wrong with being one, I was still pissed. Remember, I was 17; drama was basically a hormone coursing through my veins. I decided to tell everyone I was remotely close to, not pausing to consider that no one besides me cared. I got a lot of sympathy (she, for the record had said other things, too) but when I told one girl I knew, she missed the point of the story completely and shared her thoughts on my possible sexuality.
In hindsight, I suppose this was fair. I'd gone out with exactly two guys by this point for a combined time frame of about four months, and I hadn't gotten past second base. Perhaps my friend was simply suggesting that opening myself up to new experiences might teach me something about myself. In any case, I stopped talking to her about my boy troubles after this point.
3. "I love it when Brooke dresses like Peggy from Mad Men."
A few years ago I made the mistake of buying a dress I didn't really like in an attempt to convince myself I looked good in it. It was brown and made of some mysterious synthetic material. The best part about it was that you could ball it up and sit on it for an hour and it would not wrinkle.
I wore it to work one day and, while walking to a meeting, my boss said the above comment. I was standing right next to both of them but my boss, a huge Mad Men fan, directed the comment at our male colleague.
I, too, was a fan of the show, and I do, in fact, own a lot of clothes evocative of that era. I think its a good look for most women, particularly those with my body type.
The problem was, I'm pretty sure this conversation happened during season 3 of the show, before Peggy grew out of her dowdy, schoolgirl phase. The point being that at the time she was the worst dressed one on the show.
After I pointed this out, my boss tried to backpedal by explaining that Peggy was his favorite character "because she is ambitious and will do anything to get ahead." I tried not to think about the fact that "anything," in Peggy's case, including sleeping with and getting impregnated by, married male colleagues. I eventually got rid of the dress.
4. "Has anyone ever told you you look like Bridget Fonda?"
I have been told that I look like a lot of people, so taken out of context, there's nothing inherently odd about this statement. The thing that renders it odd was the fact that it was said by a customer who was awkwardly trying to flirt with me at the Borders where I used to work.
I can't recall exactly how the conversation progressed up until this point. I know he asked about a book and at one point complimented me on the bright red cable-knit sweater I was wearing. Then he told me I looked like Bridget Fonda and asked another awkward male customer standing nearby if he agreed. The two men did not know each other. Come to think of it, the second guy might have actually been the one to compliment my sweater. In any case, both men agreed that I resembled Bridget Fonda (despite being 21 years younger), though one of them thought I looked more like Jennifer Jason Leigh.
The conversation ended with them recommending that I watch Single White Female...you know, the movie in which Jennifer Jason Leigh falls in love with Bridget Fonda, disguises herself as her, and attempts to assume her life? Yeah, that one. I later saw the last 40 or so minutes of the movie on cable and was offended when I saw the terrible haircuts both actresses ended up with toward the end.
5. "You are exactly the type of person who would drive a Saab."
This one was from my ex boyfriend Kyle who said it while telling me about a dream he had had in which I drove a Saab. I'm pretty sure there was more to the dream than me driving around in a sturdy Scandinavian automobile, but I can't remember what it was.
I also don't remember if he explained the meaning behind his observation on my preferred choice of vehicle, though I'd imagine he was saying that I am a safe person who likes to be stylish but not flashy and also a socialist who takes a dim view of American manufacturing knowing that American corporations, especially car companies, are run by bean counters who will do anything in an effort to cut costs.
Knowing Kyle, this was probably all a compliment.