Cat calls, whistles, inappropriate under-the-breath comments.
Haven’t we women all felt that sickening feeling in the pits of our stomachs when we must walk solo passed a group of guys? We shrink up as small as possible as we slink by, desperately telling ourselves, “don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact” while simultaneously praying, “please don’t look at me, please don’t look at me.”
These situations drove me crazy in my 20s and early 30s. I’d taken enough women’s lit classes in college to know that all of these things were degrading to me as a woman. Men should respect me for my intelligence and my wit—not for my ass. And if they did like my ass, they should hold their comments for more appropriate scenarios, like the dance floor, for example.
When the days finally came that I could walk down the street without a sexist comment, it was a relief. Finally, they had stopped looking. I could be respected for my wit and intelligence, not my body. I was free, no longer a sex object.
Yet, somehow that felt bad, too.
At this stage in life, I already know I’m smart and funny, and I don’t have to prove it to any man. What I have more trouble with is feeling sexy. After all, nothing says un-sexy like crow’s feet and an unexpected sneeze that requires a panty change.
My days of being a sex object are dwindling as fast as my ovaries are shriveling up. I should be happy that I no longer must deal will disgusting male comments, but at the same time, I don’t want to be completely invisible to the male species. I may be old and married, but I’m not dead.
Biologically speaking, we’re programmed to want to attract members of the opposite sex, and I’m pretty certain, we don’t age out of that need. When gravity takes over our bodies but our insides still feel like a perky 29, we still have the urge to feel hot. The opportunities just don’t present themselves as often as they used to.
So as I was walking through Home Depot (the fourth ring of Hell) for the 122nd time in three weeks, I was taken by surprise when a 20-something guy walked by with a quiet comment that referred to the nice job my jeans were doing. (Thank you, Old Navy salesgirl, for convincing me to buy the skinny jeans).
The unexpectedness casualness of the comment and the oddity of the location confused me. Was this guy talking to me? Wait, what did he just say? What did that comment mean? (My synapses fire slowly in home improvement stores).
My younger self would have stomped off in a huff or shot him my bitchiest glare or launched into a tirade about respect for women. I did none of these things, though, because my first instinct was to laugh.
A young dude was appreciating my 41-year-old ass while I purchased lawn bags.
I suppose I should have been appalled by his audacity and inappropriateness, but he wasn’t threatening or lewd just appreciative, shall we say. As a result, I found the entire situation to be hilarious. And I’m not gonna lie, I blushed like a schoolgirl for the first time in ages.
Perhaps, I’ll stop dreading my trips to Home Depot. After all, apparently anything can happen there.