Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Swagger. What is it? Do I want it?

This is as good a time as any to talk about swagger. Women usually don’t have anywhere near enough of it before or after sixty. Roughly interpreted, swagger means a certain slightly teen-agey confidence that you have an edge over the rest of the population or at least all the people you know. I’ve experienced swagger several times in my life. The day that stands out most is when a famous newspaper editor offered me a column in a big city daily. This is what I was thinking: I'm going to be a stylesetter and adorable, too. Everybody will love me and invite me over. I am freaking awesome and brilliant. I remember walking to his office and I could swear my feet were not touching the ground. I felt I owned that city. Two weeks later the editor was fired. I’ve had enough humiliation to have a huge dose of the anti-swagger. There’s nothing that can take the swagger out of you faster than a no-show at a dinner party. Only thing worse is a no-show on a date and worse than that is a no-show of one of the principals at their wedding.

As a newly married young woman I met a cousin of President Roosevelt and since she seemed to take a liking to me and lived in the neighborhood, I asked her to dinner. In some recess of my social climbing bloated mind, I’m sure I was thinking – I am so freaking interesting and special I’ve attracted a relative of the best president and she’s going to be my best friend and possibly give me some of her money, too. I planned dinner with care and set the table with all the best stuff I had at the time, Dansk this and Dansk that. I bought candles although candles were not as important then as they are now and we only used the tall skinny ones. We waited and waited but Mrs. Roosevelt never showed up. No call. Nothing. That’s what is wrong with trying to know important people. They can just not show up and there’s nothing you can do about it. It took me down about 12 notches although I did get flowers delivered a few days later. The tech bubble fiasco took another chunk of swagger out of me along with Mrs. Roosevelt standing me up. The recent minor financial successes that I am having mean very little when I think of the glory days.

I thought all this swagger loss had taught me a lesson but it has not. I’m still waiting for the real fun to miraculously reappear. The other day a magazine named Fast Company contacted me and asked if I would participate in one of their articles. I had never heard of Fast Company but when I looked them up the current issue had Matt Damon on the cover. They sent a photographer and an assistant to photograph me. I don’t know in what alternate universe this magazine found me and decided I would enhance their content but it definitely qualified as a “drag out the swagger” opp. I could not find it. The swagger was gone and I think for good. I just prayed to God my picture would not be too bad and that the outfit I chose would look good. Gratitude for "just nothing bad, please" has smothered my swagger.


  1. I believe the only people who's "swagger" remains undiminished are so utterly deluded and self absorbed that they can't even recognize humiliation when it smacks them upside the head.