I was just at Walgreens, picking up some sundries, which is never my favorite activity. I’ve been running around all day, and was still in the sweaty lycra that I had worn to CrossFit a few hours ago. It doesn’t hide much, at all, though it would never occur to me that I had much to hide. This thing that carries me around, with its arms and legs is just a body, we all have them. I am not blind to the fact, however, that it is a body that, for better or worse, society deems “hot.” It is, to me, just my body. I’ve had it for 43 years now. Done a lot of stuff with it. We go way back.
This Walgreens, which is the closest to my home, is in about the closest thing that Seattle has to a ghetto, which is laughable if you’ve been to a city that has real ghettos. It is like the United Nations in there, and some of my favorite interactions with humans have been in this store. I spent 20 minutes once chatting with one of the employees about trying to get her daughter to use tampons (I was buying pads for my own daughter,) which led to stories about buying condoms for her kids, and how her own mom taught her about sex. One of the cashiers there, who is younger than me, always calls me “baby,” as in “you have a nice day, baby.” I secretly love this place.
Anyway, as I was lingering over Halloween merchandise today, trying to talk myself out of yet another pair of feather eyelashes, I overheard 2 teenage boys commenting on some woman. They were analyzing whether or not they’d “do her.” They use terms like “stick it in that” and “let her suck me.”
I looked to see who they were, and they were about what I’d expect from teenagers in my neighborhood. Sagging jeans, unlaced shoes, baseball caps with weed leaves on them, and cartoonish “bling” that really just looks like literal chains weighted with metaphor about slavery to image and expectation and I do not know why no one makes this connection. But who am I to judge? Some lady in her running tights. We all had our asses out for the world to see.
As for who they were talking about, it was someone on a magazine cover. One of them said, “I dunno man, she’s hot, like reeeeeel hot.” The other responded with, “dude, she old, like reeeeeeel old.” “Damn, she be 50!” “That’s what I’m saying, 50, dude, you know that shit be sagging.” “Man, I don’t know she’s hot, real hot.” “Awe, no man, she’s one of them that it’s all up in there all tight looking, and you get her home and take that shit off and shit be falling all out, saggy and fat. She old.” “I dunno man, she may be 50, but she’s hot.” And it went on like this, until the guy who thought that she was hot conceded that ya, she was “old as shit” and would be one of those that looked good until you got her home.
Until you undressed her and her real body came out.
I had to know who they were talking about. So in the midst of this analysis of her body, I walked by. Just as I saw that it was Demi Moore they were analyzing, they looked at me walking by and the one who was decidedly more assholeish says, “you know she don’t be looking like that.” And they both watched me walk by.
I felt totally sick to my stomach. First of all, hello, meet lycra, I DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT. But second of all, are you fucking kidding me. It is not often that I feel like meat. Really. I mostly live in my bubble of empowerment where I am admired for my strength and brains and creativity. I felt like meat. I felt like all women were meat to these two.
I tried to think of something to say. (Yes, I am that idiot who would pick a fight with these guys at Walgreens. Biting my tongue is not one of my skills.) I felt gross. Like, how dare you turn those foul thoughts on me. I wanted to tell them that I am almost 50 (which, yes, is a bit of a stretch, but I thought it would “show them,” and make a point.) But then I got even more upset, how dare you turn those vile thoughts on any of us. Wait, why did I even fucking feel the need to justify myself, much less Demi Moore, to these guys? I wanted to say something, and just couldn’t find a single fucking word. I mean, what do you say to guys like this?
Demi Moore? Me? Any of us? When you get my clothes off, I have stretch marks, scars, rolls of fat, ingrown hairs, zits. I mean, hot as hell, don’t get me wrong, but every single woman out there – and man – when you get our clothes off, will display myriad “flaws” that make us human. Every single one of us is someone who, when you “take that shit off, shit be falling out.”
My mind reeled, looking for a foothold to comeback. “Do you think you’re all that?” Right, because insulting arrogant youth works. “I’m almost 50,” because what? I want the pity vote? “Guys like you will never ever get the kind of sex you want.” Which I know isn’t true, because where there’s an asshole who will objectify women as sex meat, there’s an insecure girl who wants that validation. As I’m feigning interest in a ghost that flies up and down on a string making ghoulish sounds when people walk by, I’m feeling more and more lost in the haunted house of expectation, validation, mockery and indignation. I want to stand up for all women here, somehow. But I won’t. Because I can’t. There’s nothing I can say or do.
So I looked up at them, and gave them my best, “you are a fucking loser idiot” look, and that’s when I realized what I was really feeling.
I felt very sorry for these two. They were out posturing, who am I to say if they really are assholes in their hearts and minds, or if they will outgrow this stage. But here’s what I came to realize. They are the ones with the problem. And not that they’re judging people like that, women like that; I shook that off pretty quickly. But they will be chronically disappointed with every woman they take home in their entire life. No matter how much imperfect beauty is splayed out before them, tending to them, they will think they can do better, should do better. They may genuinely never even know how much beauty is there for them, because they’re looking for something better than Demi Moore. They will never be satisfied or fulfilled because reality will always disappoint them.
I felt sad for them. And felt great about me. And Demi. I wish she and I could have a drink, with our bad selves and our hot bodies and laugh. Because you know what comes with all these years? Security. Knowledge. Strength. Power. (And mad skillz that we are too smart to waste on men who don’t appreciate it.) All of those are what makes me sexy. They’re what make anyone really sexy. They’re what make anyone secure enough to really own their own sexy.
I thought about all the women I work out with, all of whom have amazing bodies – none of which could meet the expectations of arrogant youth – and laugh about the things we know. The things we do with our bodies.
And I thought about the amazing love I have, who is also an amazing lover. And how, every night, when I take my clothes off and crawl into bed, he tells me how beautiful he thinks I am, how sexy. And I think of the things we do with each other, things these idiots are too young and arrogant to even come close to fantasizing about. We have the sex of real love, and damn, that’s some good sex. And then I laughed, I could almost feel my sweet man’s fingers running along my back, and stopping when they find a good black-head. And hear his voice hesitate, and say, “can I get that one?”
Yup. I know what love is. And love like that is hot.