It’s Not Polite to Stare

Yesterday as I drove down a residential city street, a man in a white pick up truck pulled out of his parking place headed in my direction. I noticed that instead of looking out of his windshield, as is suggested and preferable, he was intently peering out of his passenger side window at something on the sidewalk. As a result of his wayward stare his oversized truck was headed down the middle of the street-straight toward me.

 

“What are you looking at?” I yelled as I looked to the sidewalk. The answer. A sweet young girl walking down the sidewalk in her summer skirt and t-shirt. “Really?” I impotently yelled through closed windows, “You are old enough to be her dad-first of all, you are going run into me or another parked car-second of all, and have a little respect-third of all.” (Is there a third of all?)

 

This morning on my way to work while I waited at a stop light, another man in a pick up truck-what is it with men and pick ups-had his head stuck out of his window to ogle a girl walking past. When he couldn’t twist his neck any further he used his rear view mirror to lock on. I began yelling again, this time hoping to catch his eye letting him know I saw him being a lech.

I get the attraction. I look at men and women too. I am attracted for many reasons. I think they are beautiful. I like their outfit. I don’t like their outfit. I like their dog. There are many reasons to look at one another.  But when guys are looking only at boobs and butts, as if the woman is on the side walk is there for their pleasure, it is time to teach them some manners. I wanted to slap their faces.

 

When my daughter, Jena, turned 21 we took her out to celebrate. My son’s fiance was singing at a local club so it was a perfect celebration. As we sipped our drinks, Jena her first legal one, I perused the room. My eyes caught a 50-60 something year old man, slight build, polyester suit, talking with many different women. I noticed when the woman turned her back his eyes went straight to her rear end. When she turned back toward him it was her boobs he zeroed in on. I felt a hot flash coming on.

 

Then, to my surprise, he was next to me and walked right up to Jena. He stood way too close to her and said, “Don’t you look sparkly tonight.”

 

I couldn’t help myself. My body moved into action before my brain was even consulted. I put my body between Jena and this lounge lizard. After his gaze left my breasts to meet my eyes, I squared off with him, “I am her mother. You need to back off!”

 

“Oh mama bear. I was just telling her she is sparkly,” he said, his reptilian tongue striking the air between us. “Back off,” I growled, puffing myself up to stand a good bit taller than him.

 

He walked away.

 

The kids were amazed, both that I intimidated him to leave and that what he did bothered me. Perhaps you have to be in your 50’s and menopausal (make my day) to be intolerant of one more man’s bad manners. Maybe you have to be a mom of a young woman to feel the fury that moved my body between them. Regardless, Jena gave me a hug and thanked me. She got it..it’s impolite to stare. I had her back.

 

 

The story doesn’t end here…this creep circled back. He wound his way around the bar to where we stood. He stopped in front of my husband. “You have one uptight wife,” he pronounced.

 

Tom held his gaze, man to slime ball and like waving a fly away from your food said “Go away.”

 

He did.

20 Seconds of Courage

We watched We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson.  It is the semi true story of how a dad reconnects with himself and his children, especially his son, by buying a zoo after his wife dies. All the heart wrenching scenes of a grief stricken dad trying to do right by his children.

 

It was an okay movie. I felt a bit duped when we read in wikipedia that the real life wife died after they bought the zoo. I guess anguished dad stories sell more movie tickets.

 

Anyway, my point?

 

Mid way through the movie Matt Damon’s character tells his children the story of how he met their mom. He recalled how frightened he was to approach her in the local cafe. As he stood outside the cafe, deciding to act or leave, he heard his older brother telling him as a child, “All you need is 20 seconds of courage.” He went in and met his future wife.

 

20 seconds of courage. I loved that concept. It made sense to me. I could use that in my life.

 

Saturday night Tom and I went to our when we have something to celebrate restaurant. Our last celebration was when I sold my house. I took him out for lobster and champagne. This time we were celebrating his raise. He took me out. They didn’t have lobster, so we had really great fish and champagne.

 

Toward the end of the evening, the table in the corner of the room, surrounded by windows overlooking downtown Pittsburgh, began to fill with a group of women. Each one came in separately clearly excited to greet her already seated friends. I’d say they were in their forties, some dressed conservatively, others provocatively, all looking their best and beautiful. They hugged each other saying, “You look great!”

 

I couldn’t stop watching them. “You can’t take your eyes off them can you?” Tom noticed. I admitted I could not. He asked me if I had noticed the couple sitting there before them, 2 people lost in a 6 person table. I had not. “So what is so interesting to you about these women?” he asked. I wasn’t sure, but I was guessing they had a great story.

 

I watched a little longer hoping not to get caught eavesdropping or staring. Tom suggested I go over and introduce myself. He guessed my interest saying they might have a great story I could blog about. I looked him straight in the eye, the kind of straight in the eye that implied his idea was crazy.

I explained to my partner of 5 years, husband for 9 months, that I am basically a shy person. I couldn’t interrupt this table of friends to get my curiosity quenched. It was a ludicrous idea.

 

Then I heard it…loud and clear,

all you need is 20 seconds of courage.”

 

I made up my mind and walked over to their table. They looked up expecting to see the waiter and instead they saw me. I explained I am a local blogger and admitted I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I went on to say my husband encouraged me to come over because I imagined they had a great story of how they met, how often they gathered and what it meant to them to gather like this. They all smiled at me and to one another.

 

Their story. They met at Slippery Rock University their freshman year all teaching majors. Two remained in the education school and the others switched majors, but they remained friends throughout their college years and their lives. They explained they now live all over the country and haven’t seen each other in 25 years. This was their reunion. I teared up.

 

They asked me what I did. I explained I am a psychotherapist specializing in women’s issues. They invited me to sit down. “We need to talk to you,” they all laughed. (One of two responses occur when I tell someone I am a therapist. Either every one shuts up or no one shuts up.)

 

I took their pictures with several of their cameras and invited them to email me the long version of their story so I could share it with all of you. They took my card and said they would.

 

I feel better for meeting them. I feel sweet about life and friendship and courage.

 

All it took was 20 seconds of courage.