I’m Not Creeping, But…
Dear insanely, oh-my-gawd-so-beautiful, man on the street corner in Seattle this morning, I wish I could tell you that it’s been a while since I was so dumb-struck by pure physical beauty as I was standing next to you, waiting for the light to change. Well, it’s not quite dumb-struck, I had a thousand things to say, most of which I could have condensed and gotten out in a few short seconds. But I am rule-struck. I know I’m not allowed to.
And that makes me sad.
I just wanted to tell you that you struck me as a wonderful example of what nature can do. Like a bird with astonishing plumage, or a lizard that can either blend in perfectly or stand out outlandishly, as it wishes. I wanted to comment on – or maybe ask about – your heritage, because I genuinely couldn’t tell. Some mix of African / South American / Middle Eastern? I don’t know. Whatever it is, it’s not something you see everyday, and I could read generations of stories that made you just so. Just so stunningly and originally beautiful.
This species, it blows my mind. We are so diverse. It never ceases to amaze me. Walking down the street is like a National Geographic special of amazing delights, all there, if you just look.
But we don’t look. Eyes forward. No contact. Whatever you do, don’t say something. That would be offensive.
For what it’s worth, I wasn’t think about having sex with you. I wasn’t thinking that you owed me a response to the compliment that I never paid you. For all I know, you’re sick to death of people telling you that you’re beautiful and just want to be known for your innate ability manipulate equations that may some day cure cancer, or finally create teleporting machines. I was just aware, that’s all. I didn’t want anything from you.
But woah, the hypocrisy, if I, a woman, were to compliment a man that way. I feel like I’m in a world that has been competing relentlessly to figure out the exact content and intent of every statement we make about each other. To prove that when a man compliments a woman it’s a sign of oppression and intent to do harm. So I sure as hell am not going to open my mouth and compliment you. Potentially breaking down the walls we have so carefully constructed to protect ourselves from potential harm. Which is real. Or imaginary harm. Which is not real. And just as harmful.
I liked your shoes though. Takes a certain “je ne sais quois” to rock plaid sneakers in an otherwise conservative look. (That made you even more beautiful to me. A little spirit. I wish I could have told you. Sometimes, we do just want to be noticed? Right?)
I swear, I didn’t even think about having sex with you, until my brain started telling me all the reasons I can’t say anything to you. Or even smile. (He might think it’s a come on, then what, I’d have to….. He might think you’re threatening him, then what, I’d have to….. He might…..) (He might have taken it as an innocent compliment, which it was. It is. Are we even allowed to do that any more?)
For what it’s worth, I soon forgot about you, at least momentarily. When I noticed the very blonde girl, (I don’t know her age, old enough to be “grown up” and young enough to be my daughter, I know, I should call her a woman, as is proper, but I call everyone girl or boy sometimes. Even myself. And that much younger than me? I dunno, girl.) Her long hair was sort of blowing in the wind, and her arms were stretched high overhead, as if trying to wake her long limbs. But something about her reminded me of coral under the sea, and I was struck. Beautiful. For a moment, I imagined tiny sea horses hiding between her long fingers, playing peek-a-boo as she swayed gently in the current of her own awakening.
I kind of wanted to smile at her, and thank her for such a lovely image. But, no, that would be wrong too. So I averted my gaze, lest I be seen noticing her.
Thankfully there was a pair of Magnolia trees, triumphantly forcing blooms, though they were trapped in steel grates, surrounding holes dug in pavement in the marble slab canyon in front of a downtown building on 5th Avenue. Compared to the trees in my garden, they were paltry, and their imprisonment seemed almost cruel to me. Like a forced labor camp for the pleasure of the overlords, “Bloom, damn it! You will do as pleases me!” But damned if they weren’t blooming. I smiled at them, rather large. I knew there was no risk of offending them, and it seemed their effort was worth commending.
Though I do think the people who saw me smile at the trees thought I was crazy. Especially once I said, “thanks,” out loud. But hey, there has to be some safe way to express gratitude for the beauty that is gifted us, in all its forms.
And while I’m at it, yes, I did think unkind thoughts about the woman who was smoking a cigarette and the smoke wafted into my path. Seriously? But they quickly turned to a sort of questioning pity. I wanted to ask her why she treated herself so badly. I wanted to assure her that she is worth better than that and that I’d never want her to stay in a relationship with someone who harmed her so predictably. But, obviously, I didn’t. It’s none of my business.
And to the guy who was across the next intersection from me. With the bright blue shirt, glasses and the long pony tail. Thanks for smiling at me. Thanks for the eye contact. I genuinely enjoyed it. It reminded me that I am not alone as a traveler in this marvelous kingdom. For what it’s worth, it never occurred to me that you wanted anything from me. I just kinda thought “we are in this moment at the same time, cool.”
I extra liked it when a few minutes later, I was turning left in my car and stopped for you to cross, and you actually waved and smiled. I did too. It was nice to see you again, fellow traveler.
And as for the extraordinarily beautiful man at the first intersection, thank you to you too. Not for anything in particular. But I do think that the moment in which I became aware of your extraordinary beauty switched over the way I was experiencing the walk back to my car. The world became a more beautiful place. Not because of you, specifically, but because you reminded me to open my eyes and look around.
I know it’s not okay to tell all the beautiful things that they are beautiful. Though I wish it were.
Beautiful things, you are beautiful. In many many ways. And I thank you.