Well, it’s late August, and my legs still aren’t tan. I haven’t been trying, so no wonder. The arms get tan on their own while the legs remain pasty. For the most part, my legs are not on public display. I know I’m the kind of white that blinds in bright sunshine. I keep my offending limbs under wraps much of the time.
The other day while watering my front yard wearing a droopy pair of shorts that expose me from the knee down, my next-door neighbor Steve pointed out that “my legs should be tan.”
Steve is an older (but not old) gentleman who says, “Hello, beautiful!” everytime he sees me. He’s a chatty, friendly neighbor who says if he ever sees anyone breaking in our house, he’s got a shotgun and he’ll use it. He’s given us camera equipment that he was no longer using, and a few weeks ago brought over a hunk of beef for us to barbeque. Once in a while, Steve will say something slightly bawdy, like “When I see you, I think twins, because I wish you had one.” I think he even asked me about my mother’s sex life the other day–I’m not sure. I instantly repressed it.
One can’t choose relatives or next-door neighbors, so one must learn to drop the hot potatoes when they are thrown. But Steve’s comment about my legs really irked me in that classic “men blurting out opinions about women inappropriately” kind of way. First of all, I was hand-watering the yard, and long pants are not the appropriate attire for that activity. Can’t I look schlumpy and white in my own front yard during a 20-minute babying-the-dead-grass session before scurrying back in the house to protect the public from my bleached-out gams?
Do I EVER tell Steve to put a shirt on when he wanders around shirtless in his front yard? No. Perhaps I should. Perhaps I should just bust right out and say, “Steve, I don’t want to see your nipples ever again. Please put them away.”
All this brings to mind what women endure every day. Looks, stares, eyeballing, whistles, comments, whispers, statements, yells. Have you, woman reader, ever crossed the street to avoid a construction site? Have you dreaded walking into a bar? Crossed your arms as eyes kept drifting downward? No wonder Hilary’s cleavage was national news.
Here is where I am supposed to say something wry and witty and feminist (insert your own comment here, or better, comment on this post!). All I can summon is that Steve is a good old boy, and he will continue to say good old boy (inappropriate) things. I will learn how to think on my feet, offer my objections to his comments without petulance. And my white legs will continue to make unscheduled appearances in the front yard. They really glow at twilight.