A beautiful young girl smiles down at the pavement as she walks by the construction site. She’s smiling because the guys are whistling a reverent weet-woo. She’s looking good and she knows it.
I was pretty for about a minute in 1976, but I was never that girl. I was simply oblivious.
In my 20s, after I had two kids, I took a creative writing class at the local college. A boy wrote a poem about admiring a girl, watching her when she didn’t know he was looking. He was a sweet kid, sat a few rows behind me in class. It was cute, the way his voice shook a little as he read his tender poem aloud to the class.
When it was time to give feedback, everybody was teasing him, asking about this mystery chick. He looked so uncomfortable, I took pity on him and said something silly to put him at ease. Something like, come on you guys, he wrote the poem for his mother’s birthday.
Everyone got really quiet. Nobody laughed at my joke.
Professor dismissed class but asked me to stay.
“That was cruel,” he said. I had no idea what he was talking about. My poor excuse for a joke?
“I was just trying to make him smile. Whoever that girl is, she’s really lucky.”
Prof looked at me for a minute, then he shook his head. “You really don’t know, do you?”
“He wrote the poem about you. He’s had a crush on you all semester. Everybody else knows. How could you not?”
I did not put my head down, smile, and walk away. I was too embarrassed. I felt oddly like crying.
Which is why when women complain that after a certain age men just don’t look at them the same way anymore, I don’t get it. I never knew they were looking in the first place.