Ah Wesley, thanks for the comment! My friend, you are mentioned several times in this blog. Looking forward to linking to yours!

The Houston-Bush airport – unlike its namesake – is fabulous. Modern and airy, with wonderfully oversized departure screens, and lighting as bright as day inside. It could use more electrical outlets, but is also slightly lax on its wi-fi access, so that my 24-hour purchase on Mon night was still in effect almost 48 hours later. Nice!

I also have a fondness for Continental, a hold over from when I used to fly them more often (these days I am a US Air hag). Service on board is still better than the rest: modest meals in economy, refills of beverages, $5 Margaritas. On my flight from Houston to Boston tonight, the flight attendant took pity on my pathetic simpering for chocolate (what happens when you have a salty pulled pork sandwich for dinner), and handed me two small packets of M&Ms from two airline meals.  Love her.  Love chocolate.  Devoured the candy.

The M&Ms, snagging an unclaimed aisle seat instead of my assigned middle, and having no one to my immediate left are all significant improvements over my earlier flight from NOLA to Houston. Desperate for sleep, I couldn’t quite relax enough to nod off, and I ended up talking to a lecherous British dude beside me who told me in the final minutes of our flight that his relationship with his wife was dead and that he was having an affair. I am quite certain that there was room in his life for exhausted red-headed strangers should they find themselves charmed by his transatlantic availability and ease with adultery. This interaction was egregious enough to offend even me, world-weary as I am by unwanted male attention. Too much of my daily existence has been shaped by bracing for and fending off all this excessive interest.

Some of it is no doubt entertaining for me and you. Years ago with my friend Kristen at O’Neal’s outside Lincoln Center, the Irish bartender slipped me a note asking me out that concluded with “Nice hair.” Last year on the subway downtown from the Upper West Side, a dapper man in his sixties used the New Yorker we were both reading to introduce himself, then asked me out after complimenting my hair and telling me I really knew how to fill out a pair of jeans. At a Stern Beer Blast years ago, one of our finance professors singled me out among the crew to point out my absence in a class with easily 70+ people in it. When he walked away, Big Mikey Tags quipped, “Raise your hand if [so-and-so’s] ever noticed when you’re missing from class.” And so on.

Wait? What’s that?…ah, the strains of a tiny violin being tuned again.

But sometimes this shit ain’t so fun. Trapped in a window seat wishing you were napping while listening to a bitter, disillusioned man coldly describe his wife as he leans suggestively towards you is pretty gross.   Having an elder, esteemed planning partner in NOLA take your hand and hold or caress it pseudo-absently-mindedly every time he talks to you is really tiresome. And having the campus police call you at 1 a.m. one night freshman year because they’ve just pulled over your adulterous and estranged stalker ex-boyfriend cruising around, well that just sucks.

Eventually, you can read a sexual undertone in most interactions with men, and it’s confusing, exhausting, and even a little addictive. It really skews your expectations of appropriate interest and behavior, and even your sense of attractiveness and self-worth.  The assumptions, paranoia and apparent egotism that comes across when you share too many of these stories with men (or the less “fortunate” women who don’t experience this) enhances the sense of shame that also results. I know, I should be happy I am attractive, desirable. I shouldn’t complain. Lucky me.

But you know what? I’d really just like to be left the fuck alone for 5 minutes.


4 Responses to “Affection”

  1. 1 Jake
    August 4, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    You’re talking crazy again… 😉

  2. 2 Wesley
    August 8, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    I think it’s always interesting to get the perspective from the other side. I have strangers compliment me on my smile, my hair – “You’re always smiling” can, on a bad day, just lead to further annoyance (an no surer way to stop smiling).

    I had a couple of good friends, early on, who insisted that I had to learn how to take a compliment. I believe that’s true – most people are just trying to be nice. But it is true that the things I want to be noticed for – the internals about how I’m nice and kind and friendly – are generally ignored in favor of the externals. And if I were a woman, I think I would quickly weary of the attention to my legs, ass, breasts and hair. (Although, just to be clear, they would be fabulous,/i> breasts.) 😉

    But, red star does have some fabulous hair. And she doesn’t even color it! 🙂

  3. 3 Wesley
    August 8, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    oops Sorry.

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