In case you aren’t a frequent reader of second wave feminist novels (and, let’s be honest, no one is a frequent reader of second wave feminist novels, not even me), let me tell you about them. They tend to follow a pretty standard format. A smart girl is born to a moderately well-off family in the 1940s. She reads a lot and feels out of place, but right around when she hits puberty she learns to hate her body, conform to the gender standards of the 1950s, and turns out to be pretty. She forgets about everything she read and marries young. Moves to the suburbs, helps puts her husband through school, has a kid, then another. Drinks a lot. At some point she realizes that she hates her life. Drinks some more. Some time later an event (maybe a divorce) leads her to have to really shake things up (maybe by going back to school) and that’s when she comes to understand the gender constructs that shape her life. Her consciousness is raised.
I have varying amounts of sympathy for these characters depending on my mood. I’m reading Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room for my book group right now. It’s actually a total page turner.
Yesterday morning, however, I found myself feeling like I had gone through the main character’s entire emotional experience, which takes place over the course of the 450 pages, in under 3 hours. I woke up in the hating-my-body phase, struggling through a second day of rather painful cramps. Then I went shopping for a new pair of athletic shorts only to discover that the store near me exclusively sells athletic shorts for women with words written on the ass. Seriously, that was the only option. As I left the store, in a huff and with a pair of shorts, contemplating all the ways it can still be demeaning to be a woman, I decided I needed a drink.
The women in French’s novel don’t drink anything this fruity. They drink wine from jugs and straight liquor at night when everyone else is asleep. Instead of either of those rather unappealing options, I made these for Noah and myself yesterday evening. They didn’t totally clear up my bad mood, but, as Noah made dinner while I read a magazine and drank my cocktail, I remembered why I often don’t relate to French’s characters at all.
(I adapted this from this Smitten Kitchen recipe)
– 1 cantaloupe
– 1 cup of water
– 3 springs of mint
* Cut cantaloupe in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Scoop out flesh and put in blender or bowl, if you are using an immersion blender. (I used an immersion blender, but if you are using a blender you might have to do this in a few rounds.) Once all the flesh is in bowl add one cup of water and blend until smooth.
* Place colander over large bowl and line with dish towel or layered cheese cloth. Pour cantaloupe mixture into this and refrigerate for at least an hour.
* About half-an-hour in add mint sprigs to juice that has drained into bowl.
* Remove from refrigerator. Gently squeeze out as much remaining juice as you can from the cantaloupe mixture and discard solids.
* Juice can now be refrigerated or poured into cups over ice and mixed with seltzer, vodka, and a squeeze of lime in whatever portions you like.
Note: These are not very sweet. I liked them that way, but you could stir in some simple syrup if you wanted. I drank the remaining juice this morning without alcohol (this isn’t the 1950s!) and it was quite sweet on its own so I wouldn’t add syrup to all of the juice even if you do like a sweeter cocktail.