I have a dirty little secret. No, I’m not a pole dancer. I’m a fighter. Only a few people at work know. Why do I treat it like a dirty little secret? There is a conversation thread that weaves its way through a lot of female martial arts blogs. It goes something like this, “When I tell people I practice (insert martial art here), they react (insert judgemental reaction here).” The experience can be very daunting, because people instantly get a mental image of two heavy weight MMA champions beating each other to a bloody pulp. I think I actually cringe when people ask, “So, what do you do for fun?” If you’re a guy and you say, “I’m a fighter.” You get automatic respect. If you’re a girl however, people tend to view you as a freak of nature, maybe even a three-headed alien speaking Swahili. Prostitutes seem to get more respect than female martial artists.
I was raised to not brag about what you do, but to be the person you are. I know that statement doesn’t make much sense to most people. Just roll with it. It just means to be humble. So I don’t expound about my achievements in public, especially at work. At work, I’m very careful about not discussing my personal life. (After all, I work at a hospital, and they are known for being evil Peyton Places.) So when people inevitable ask that question, “What do you do for fun?” I always become evasive. I say things like, “I go to the gym. I’m a gym rat. I might even say, I just hang out with friends.” I never say, I’m going to the dojo to get my bum kicked by some sweaty guy who is twice my size.
Then there are the injuries and bruises. I explained the dislocated shoulder by saying that I fell at home. Another one of my other excuses is, “I was horsing around with the boys (my sons).” My favorite excuse is, “It’s an old football injury.” I’ve become quite adept at sounding like a battered house wife (no offense to battered women). It’s usually not a problem that worries me. However, there is this one guy…
I work with this guy, maybe once or twice every month or so. He’s very nice. Intelligent even. And did I mention the “Hottie Factor”? Anyway, there have been a few occasions when he has asked me non-work questions like, “What are your plans for the weekend?” There is this instant spasm in my throat. It seems to swell shut and I imagine my eyes bug out like I’m choking on a dead rat. (It can’t be an attractive look.) I search my brain for an answer to the question. I’m usually good at coming up with evasive answers. But nothing comes to mind. I end up dismissing his questions all together. I think I’m coming off as rude. That bothers me a lot. I dislike rudeness. I just can’t bring myself to tell him about martial arts. I’m afraid he’ll give me “that look”. You know the look. The disgusted one that says, “What are you, a three-headed alien speaking Swahili?” So, I guess I’ll just keep my dirty little secret for now.