For years I’ve suspected that women lead difficult, complicated lives, and that they differ from men in more than just the obvious ways. Not being a woman, I prefer not to dwell on these matters, yet sometimes they can’t be avoided. I live with one woman plus two women-in-training, ages 14 and 11, which is to say I live in a state of deep confusion. Who are these people and what do they want?
In search of answers, I ventured this past Sunday to the Central New York Women’s Expo at the OnCenter. Official slogan: “Experience a day in the life of a real woman.”
Three hours was all I could take–not that I would trade the experience for all the laser vein treatments in Fayetteville. I learned that women want make-up, jewelry, chocolate, fancy donuts, weight loss products, positive energy, community and cosmetic surgery. They also want flavored olive oils and vinegars, openness, origami and wine — the sweeter the better. See, wine helps women deal with the stress that builds up from having to be so positive, and because they get stuck doing a lot of things that men can’t or won’t do, like pilates and Christmas. Long eyelashes are also essential to women because they make them feel “better.” So stated Kayla Gerstner of Younique cosmetics, who was selling fiber eyelashes made with green tea.
“The eyes are the first thing … they’re supposed to be the first thing you look at,” she informed me.
Overall I blended in pretty well at the expo, but there were a few awkward moments. Just as I was about to learn how I could host a Premier Designs jewelry party at my home and save 30 percent, a doctor from St. Joe’s took the stage and started lecturing about fibroids, which I had previously thought was an unpopular breakfast cereal. The doctor showed a diagram of a Mystery Female Body Part — the Ulysses — and said fibroids can grow there and cause mischief. Then I heard the four words no trade show visitor wants to hear — “heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding”. I fled the hall in a panic, finding sanctuary in the lobby where I took great curative gulps of complimentary fruit wine from Lakeland Winery. Then I dove back in for more insight.
A woman in a leotard was doing toe raises on the stage and holding her legs at odd angles. I had no idea why.
A vender from Watertown, the Spicy Wench, offered free samples of boutique preserves, and a vendor from Phoenix, Just Donuts, offered decadent tastes to die for, perhaps literally. Food in general was a priority. At one point a male voice bellowed over the PA system: “Stop over and get yourself a loaded salt potato, and just shove it down your throat!”
Excuse me? What self-respecting woman would want to jam a tuber down her gullet? But I was wrong again. The booth run by Bull & Bear, featuring individual salt potatoes freighted with sour cream, cheese, pulled pork and more, was a hit. Women like salt potatoes because they’re small and easy to eat, explained Christina Hodges, the pub’s “catering queen.” “We don’t want a giant baked potato with all that stuff on it.”
Small potatoes good. Fibroids bad. Check.
Several booths catered to the financial concerns of women. Colette Powers of UBS Financial Services in Syracuse offered Vision Boarding, a method of visualizing your financial future through collage. A year-and-a-half ago, Colette had a vision of women making vision boards before she even knew what they were. The rest is history. On Sunday 28 women cut, pasted and crafted their way to a brighter financial future, assuming they don’t blow it all on huckleberry wine and green tea eyelashes.
My day as a “real woman” was complete. I sprinted to my car with a deeper understanding of the other gender. Are men and women different? Of course. But I’d rather focus on all we have in common. For example, we both need oxygen to live.
I’m going back down to the basement.