Sunday was my date with the Gentleman, and it was a fail. Sigh. I felt off before I even walked out the door. Sweetie and I hadn’t had much time together during the week, so we were feeling each-other-deficient. My chemicals were a little off from having to leave her, but the Gentleman was driving over from out of town and I’d been looking forward to him and the art museum all week. Sweetie and I straightened the house in case he wanted to stop in and I got myself all dolled up.
As soon as I was in the car with him I felt like I was fucking up the date. I couldn’t keep myself off of dark topics. He mentioned having had a steak the say before and I didn’t stop myself before I veered into Food Inc, territory. I mostly gave up red meat a while ago, but it’s been a looooong time since I was the kind of insufferable person who'd begrudge anybody a steak. On a topic slightly more relevant between potential playpals or whatever, I also didn’t stop myself from mentioning the slew of scary rape discussions going on on the local FetLife boards and the ethical dilemmas I’d been having about BDSM. I was not being fun.
The conversation lightened once we were in the museum, but when we got to the point of discussing out current dance cards, I ended up telling him why I’d broken things off with the Mayor of Kittentown. I told him that I do worry about only being liked for my boobs. I said that if we had a scene together again it would be helpful to compliment additional things about me.
“That’s nice nail polish you’re wearing,” he said sarcastically.
“See how easy that is?’ I really didn’t mean to make such a big deal about it—it was only a minor quibble with his brand-new topping skills.
“In my defense, you were kind of leading with them.”
“When you walked into the diner and I saw you, I was like, whoa. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that, but…”
I started to cry.
“Um, I was just trying to look cute. I think I want to go home.”
He suggested that going to see the exhibit we’d come to see would make me feel better, and I agreed, but I didn’t stop talking about it.
“That was so unfair of you to say. It’s just what I look like and you made all kinds of assumptions about me based on it. It’s not fair.”
He seemed defensive, who wouldn’t be, I guess, but “leading with them”? Ugh. I guess they are technically in front of me, but still.
My picture of myself showing up for that date was totally different from what he saw. I blowdried my hair, chose pretty pink makeup, put on a cute purple dress, which, yes, had cleavage, and new stripy platform shoes. I felt pretty and confident because of my happiness at the idea of getting to make new friends and learn new things, of being at lunch with my wife and a date and his wife, it felt like such a happy occasion.
But here’s what he saw: boobs.
He said he was sorry and I acknowledged that I am in kind of a bad place.
We waited in line for the exhibit, for which he’d paid a lot of money, but I just wanted to get away from him and cry. Eventually that’s what I did. He apologized, offered to drive me home, but I said I wanted to be alone, that he should stay and look at the art. I really hope he stayed and looked at the art.
I sat on the museum steps and sobbed in front of the Sunday crowd. I called Sweetie, even though I felt bad for interrupting her creative alone time. She said to start walking towards home and she would come to get me. I hung up the phone and sobbed some more.
A pair of ladies, sisters carrying lots of baby gear, came over to ask if I was okay, and I said, yes, sure, it’s just a bad date, and they said “Oh, that explains it. Everything is men’s fault.”
I laughed and sniffed and said I really don’t want to see it that way. They gave me some baby wipes and I started to walk towards home.
Once Sweetie picked me up, I could really unleash the tears. “I feel like a kid.” I kept saying. “I feel like a kid.”
I don’t know why that was the feeling, except that the day had wiped away some naïveté that I really didn’t want to lose. I didn’t feel like an adult woman with all kinds of worth and accomplishments. I felt like a little girl whose body (which she absolutely loves) somehow makes people not see her. Which somehow makes me seem less respectable.
We spent a quite evening at home, went for a little walk. We watched lots of sitcoms. There were these terrifying ads for a Family Guy episode wherein Meg (the teenage daughter) gets kidnapped and tortured, dragged all around in her underwear, and her dad offers 2$ for her safe return. On a comedy! It’s a network show I’m sure many of my elementary-age students watched. How could I NOT feel like the world is a fucking terrifying place?
I don’t want to feel all dark and threatened, helpless. A month ago, I felt strong and beautiful, like something wonderful was emerging from me. But where in the world is safe for that version of me, if even the nicest guys reduce me to a floating set of bosoms?
Because this is not a bad guy, none of these guys are evil and maybe not even intentionally mean. They just seem so conditioned by stereotypes and expectations that they can’t see me, and sometimes I can’t see myself. I know that lots of men are not like that, I hate the way my fears lead me to confirm them over and over. Because I may not be leading with my boobs, but at this point, I am leading with my fears. I’m not sure what the solution is to that.