Pulchritude

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.

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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.”

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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.

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5 Responses to “Pulchritude”

  1. Aaron Proctor Says:

    Tan is overrated.

    I like my chicks nice and pale.

  2. Miss Havisham Says:

    Grrl, you are a wildly courageous female! I love the way you write (mad skill), what you write (content), and how you write (blog).

    Those nipples (pictured) would distract me if I had to have a conversation with them, I mean the man. In the one dimension, the shirtless are interesting in an artistic life drawing sort of way. You know, I’ve got some etchings…

    The subtle intimidation effect your neighbor may have on you (mention of firearm use, cameras, body commentary, bribery of beef) is not lost on me. It begs the question, what happens if I become a percieved threat to him-if I treat him the same way he is treating me?

    My own experience in the corporate world, especially in the ’80s, when more men were beginning to be threatened by up and coming women. Women who had been given opportunities not afforded them before, and the unified field of male reaction to the initial successes of affirmative action. Some men and women, of course, would unify on the issue of affirmative action regarding race.

    I am generalizing to make a point, so don’t get your prospective jock straps and g-strings in a twist.

    More recently, I have experimented (because I am single) with treating my suitors in the same way as a classic single man has always done. Viewed as tasting, and sampling but not wanting to be tied down to one, playing the field-so to speak. I’ve had some interesting reactions, from disbelief that a woman cannot possibly require distance and perspective after sex (viewed as rejection by men), to accusations that it is a scheme to trick them into marriage. How veddy Havisham of me? Even Miss Havisham abandoned that strategy in the end.

    Ah, dating. I envy the married. For now, I’ll have to settle for the occasional embeded reasearch assignment.

    Kudos to you.

  3. Aaron Proctor Says:

    I approve of your research, Miss H.

  4. Todd Says:

    Maybe, when you see Steve you could ask him if the turkey’s done?

  5. Kevin Charnas Says:

    Steve’s manboobs just made me puke in my mouth a little.

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