Saturday, July 12, 2014

Body Image

So, the other day I got hit on… I think.
I was at one of the writing groups that I attend and this younger woman was paying a lot of attention to me.  She was smiling, angling her body toward me and kept trying to engage me in conversation.  She was fairly attractive, wore a low cut top that displayed a large amount of cleavage and had a few tasteful tattoos.
I basically ignored her.  I mean, I participated in the conversation, I was polite but didn’t engage her back.  It was a writing group, we were there to write, not talk.
In fact, I didn’t realize she was being flirty with me until I was driving home.
Fast forward a couple of days.
I think it happened again with a different woman at a different writing group meeting.
Now, probably 60-70% of the writing group is made up of older, retired men and women.  The second largest percentage, 20-30%, of attendees are women in their thirties and forties.  There are only two of us guys in that age bracket, so the ratio of women to men is fairly high.
It was the end of the meeting, we were getting ready to leave, and one of the older women started up a conversation with one of the younger women about Marine Biology.  I was standing with those two by the door and listening in.  The older woman made a comment about the quality of some kind of sea water, how it was warm, wet and salty.
One of the younger women, still seated, started laughing.  She looked up at me.
“Wow, what are you all talking about?”
The three of us standing there all turned and gave her a blank look.
“I mean, warm, wet, and salty?  That doesn’t make me think of sea water.”
We continued to stare at her blankly.
The seated woman looked at me again, then looked down and started blushing.
We ignored her, finished the conversation and left.  On the way to the car I puzzled over her comment.
In a small group dedicated to writing, full of retirees, who’s thinking about sex?  The joke came from so far out of left field, that’s why she got the blank stares.  None of the rest of us were thinking about sex, we were thinking about writing and Marine Biology.
So, why was she thinking about sex?  I was the only guy there in her age range.  Why did she look at me like that and then blush?
Wait… was she flirting with me?  Or trying to in some really awkward way?  I wasn’t sure.  Maybe?

Both of these situations were so unexpected that I didn’t even really notice them until afterwards.  That seemed really odd to me so I started really digging into my own perception of the events.
In hind sight, were they flirting with me?  Yeah, I think so.
Why didn’t I realize it at the time?  Because no one ever flirts with the fat, bald, divorced guy.
Yeah… that second answer caught me a little off guard.  No one ever hits on the fat, bald, divorced guy.  I hadn’t realized how poorly I saw myself until I thought through everything.  Why didn’t I notice their attention?  Because they couldn’t possibly be hitting on me… because I’m the fat, bald, divorced guy.
body image 2 s
Two years ago, when I officially became single that’s exactly what I was, fat, bald, and divorced.  I’d gotten out of a tricky marriage, I drank too much, I shaved my head to cover the baldness and I was thirty five pounds overweight.  Yeah, I was single but it wasn’t like the ladies were clamoring for my attention.  And I was never a particularly social guy to begin with, so I wasn’t even meeting very many women.
I did date but it was almost exclusively through websites.  I got laid, had some friends with benefits and so on.  I wasn’t Casanova but I did alright.  It wasn’t like I had low self esteem, or lacked confidence, I was totally fine with myself.  It just so happened that I wasn’t the type of guy that got hit on.  And I was okay with that.
Over the next two years I got a new job, drank less, worked out more, ate better and started pursuing other interests.  I bought a condo, got a dog and settled into a simple, happy life.  Through blogging I met Ann, who’s amazing.
And somewhere along the line… I stopped being the fat, bald, divorced guy.  But I didn’t notice.
When I first met Ann in person I was worried that she wouldn’t find me attractive because I didn’t think of myself as attractive.  I didn’t think I was unattractive… just, average-ish.  When I looked in the mirror I saw the same divorced guy that shaved his head, drank too much, and needed to get in shape.  But that wasn’t really me anymore.
body image s
I lost the thirty pounds a while ago.  I could still stand to lose a few more but I look nothing like I did back then.  I still see the same guy but that’s not what everyone else sees anymore.
These two situations where women showed interest in me were so far away from what I expected that my brain didn’t even recognize them.  If they hadn’t happened in the same week, driving me to think about it, I might never have realized how far off my own perceptions of myself were.
I’m not the fat, bald, divorced guy anymore.  That’s actually kind of hard to say.  I’m not the fat, bald, divorced guy anymore.
What am I now?  I don’t know, my own perceptions are obviously flawed.  And honestly, I don’t particularly care.  As long as I feel good, and Ann finds me attractive, I’m happy.  That doesn’t mean that I’m going to slack off any time soon, I want her to look at me with lust in her eyes every time she sees me.  That’s the only affirmation I need.
And as far as those other ladies go, thanks for the lesson but I’m taken.

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