Being the Non-Alpha Female


Heard on the NPR a colorful description of the personality issues some well-known, history-making explorers had, though these were virtually unknown facts behind their much glorified accomplishments. After all, as you can imagine, to live like a bear for months on end in a place that’s way colder than Massachusetts and have to suck ice for drinking water, with the constant thought on his mind being only how to get to that hut first to plug down that flag so he could have some cold dry beef jerky and his ears would be less than freezing can take…err…certain talents which not everyone possesses.

I have by this time come to the conviction that being the alpha female is just too much work. I’m way too busy worrying about whether my daughter had just poked her nose with the finger which she now put in my mouth, and whether the speck of cheese she picked up from the floor and immediately put in her mouth was from last week or this morning.

Still, I think my dad still harbors the hope that I’d win the Nobel price of physics someday. My parents worked tirelessly to raise me to be a winner since the day I was born. I remember one distant past weekend when my parents were watching a biographical movie about Chopin, and I was busy about the room doing whatever I was doing playing by myself. And then one of the scenes caught my eyes: Chopin was playing the piano and he was spitting up blood on the keyboard. I asked, “Why was he spitting up blood just by playing the piano?”

And here shows my parents’ effort to use every opportunity to teach life’s lessons to me. They said, “With the way you play the piano of course you wouldn’t spit up blood.”

Life’s lesson #1: Never associate with someone who would spit up blood just by playing the piano because otherwise your parents will forever point to that person and say to you, “Look so and so is putting so much effort into playing that piano. You’ll never spit up blood like her.”

There was another movie that had shaped my slightly misconstrued view of musicians. Once again, it was a foreign film that my parents were watching on a Sunday afternoon. All I understood from that movie was that there was a woman whose father wanted her to marry a concert pianist who was the bright shining star in the music world. And she thought she wanted him, too. Unfortunately, as she discovered that she simply couldn’t take that guy’s day and night drumming on that piano. And so she left him.

And that was why when I met my first real-life musician, I beat around the bush and asked:

“Do you practice on the piano all day and all night?”

“No,” said my then yet-to-be hubby, who plays Saxophone.

“What about blood? Do you find blood in your spit valve?”

“Huh? Sax don’t have spit valves,” he said. “Except baritone sax and contrabass sax. Do you want me to give you the entire history of woodwinds and brass instruments?”

“No. I was only interested in the potentially bloody aspect.”

“Does biting off the head of a bat count?”

“You bit off the head of a bat?”

“No. Ozzy Osbourne did. But I thought I ask.”


Yes. That really set my mind at ease about marrying a musician.


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