A Fierce Answer To A Lunchroom Pick-up Line
"It was the first day of the fall semester. I wasn't prepared for the shock of entering a large classroom crammed full with young men. Way in the back corner I spied one lone female. She was dressed in military fatigues and sporting a camo cap, so at first she blended in with the all-male landscape. She and I were the only women in Dr. Stagg's Greek 101. I guess I'd never considered whether this was a popular subject with female students; I just wanted to study the language.
"I soon picked up on the fact that this class was filled with what I referred to as ‘young preacher-boys.' And were they ever the cocky lot! Every Monday morning I watched them try to one-up each other by re-preaching their Sunday sermons. Lots of big stories, loud and long alliterations, exaggerated hand gestures. If they were trying to impress the two women in the room, they didn't.
"One day at the end of class, most of us headed to the cafeteria for lunch. I was standing in line waiting my turn to pick up a tray and silverware, minding my own business, when one of the cocky preacher-boys just behind me in line startled me with, ‘Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?'
"I'd never spoken to this guy before, didn't even know his name but had a vague notion he was in my class. I was thinking, This is his impressive opening line? Smooth. We've never spoken and this is how you introduce yourself?
"Now, how is a girl supposed to respond to an opening question like that? I have nothing to hide. I've always been a transparent person and often too blunt for my own good, so I mumbled, ‘Um . . . no, I guess not.' I could feel my eyebrow arching a bit. (It does that sometimes. I'm ashamed to admit, but if you ever meet me and see me do that . . . sorry, it could be indicating I'm a bit irritated.)
"‘Why are you in Greek class?' The question may seem innocent enough, but did you note his emphasis on the word you? With that one carefully turned word, he spoke volumes. The grip on my plastic lunch tray tightened as I realized—This guy thinks Greek class is no place for girls . . . Who does he think he is, asking me why I'm studying Greek? My eyebrow arched pointedly as I gave him a dead level glare while every ounce of my being flooded with Helen Reddy's theme song, I am woman, hear me roar! My response was delivered in cold, even tones.
"‘I'm taking the class so that I can study the original language of the New Testament for myself in order to prepare to pastor and shepherd my flock.' Delivering the slam, I turned to pick up my salad plate. Stunned, he mumbled a subdued, 'Oh.'
"I left him to think as I picked up condiments. But the Holy Spirit wouldn't let me do it. I couldn't lie to this guy with my impromptu fabrication about being a 'woman preacher'—even if he did seem to be a male chauvinist. With the last of my items placed on my tray, I took a deep breath and turned to tell him, ‘No, the real reason I'm studying Greek is because I've grown up hearing pastors claim what the original language says and I want to be able to read it myself, for my own personal growth.' His ‘Oh!' this time sounded much different, like he was extremely pleased with my answer. And with that, I concluded my first conversation with the man who would one day be my husband.
We both laugh about it now and he gets a kick out of telling people how my spirited response triggered his interest in me. I've heard many husbands say they experienced similar feelings of attraction when they met their feisty wives, like being drawn by the beauty and danger of climbing Mount Everest—the climb is filled with breathless anticipation and excitement, but woe to the man who attempts that climb unprepared!" (Fierce Women by Kimberly Wagner, 17–19).
It was Kimberly's fierceness that made her husband-to-be approach her in the lunchroom. It was the softness that she tempered that fierceness with that made him keep talking. What is a fierce woman? And what is it about our fierceness that appeals to the guys around us? Is being fierce a good thing?
These are the questions Kimberly tackles in her new book Fierce Women. You might recognize Kimberly's name from the list of writers for this blog. Her book is a great tool for understanding what it means to be a soft warrior.
You'll hear more from Kimberly tomorrow about what makes being a fierce woman attractive, but until then, I'd love to hear from you. Like Kimberly, do you have moments where you respond with fierce strength? What do you think makes a woman fierce?
Finish this sentence in a comment below. A fierce woman is... We'll give away free copies of Fierce Women to the three of you with the best answers!