OPINION: It's easy to believe it's a man's world in Christchurch. The place rains men dressed in the ubiquitous hi-vis jerkin and hard hat toiling away in the busted landscape.
In the last couple of years I can't recall ever seeing a woman driving heavy machinery or working on the roads, though I believe they exist. As a teenager growing up in the '70s, I would have been appalled to think that 30- odd years down the track there would still be Miss New Zealand, Miss World and Miss Universe competitions and that a woman still took her husband's surname when she married.
Back then I took for granted a future in which women would be represented in both white and blue collar jobs, but it hasn't come to pass.
As the former mayor, Garry Moore, said last week, women are noticeably low-vis in a city that struts with an all-male revue of overlords controlling our destiny.
However, though I might see and experience that it's a man's world, I would never go so far as to want to come back as one in the next.
Unless you're a card- carrying Buddhist that wish is unlikely to be fulfilled, and there are no guarantees of coming back in human form; a loser's chance of re-entering the coil may be as a lowly bug or a beastly rhinoceros.
Like many of my generation I am a spiritual commitmentphobe, enjoying the structure of the Ten Commandments, embracing the perceived warm fuzzies of Buddhism, and wanting to have a foot in the secular camp as well. When it suits is our motto.
As for an afterlife, I have always been disappointed with people who believe that death is a fade-to-black, with colours or non-colours probably not being available on the colour chart six feet under. How unimaginative to believe that the end of life comes down to a lights-out pull of the plug, a removal of batteries, or that the way we think about life while we're having plenty of it, is the arrogance to have an exact perception of what it would be after death.
Who knows what comes next? It's a mystery and I believe in the mystery. How depressing to know the next bit. Surely it would be like unwrapping all the Christmas and birthday presents you were ever to receive during an entire lifetime the day after you were born.
Sometimes I experience a deja-vu feeling of a past life spent in male form while in the presence of a certain type of woman who seems to be able to turn on the taps at the drop of a hat. Yes, people cry, myself included, but I want to run a mile from those who give you the strong impression that they are professionally lachrymose, regularly holding you ransom to their emotional needs so you will do anything to stop their tears.
I remember seeing this at a bus station when a woman ahead in the queue threw a wobbly and sobbed loudly till she got what she wanted and was issued a ticket. As she walked away she caught me staring at her, winked and - mission accomplished - strolled off smiling. Boy, was she hard.
Am I alone in indulging in wondering what sort of a man or woman you might be had the chromosome count been different? Being a glass half- empty kind of a person, I have a horrid suspicion that as a man I would have been a brawler, possibly locked up for it from time to time, would dress to the left, and have a string of illegitimate children spread across the country.
I'd drive an unwarranted pick-up truck, and, along with an addiction to bad country and western music, develop a comical paunch by my late 30s and be on long term medication for clinical depression and high blood pressure.
There are many things I envy about the male sex - especially their toilet ease (not having to queue), but I don't envy them their dress, or lack of it. I used to say that being female was like being a movie star 24 hours a day, and I still feel like that even now when the glory of youth has departed. Being a woman is so ridiculously tremendous I'm going to come back as one in my next life.
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