So today I decided I would get out of the house early and enjoy my little town. Making lemonade! and all that. I drove to the bakery on Main Street where I purchased a blueberry cream cheese danish and an almond croissant. Then I drove to our Starbucks, which is in the depressing grocery store. We have no freestanding Starbucks. We have other coffee shops but I wanted a gingerbread latte. Gosh this is turning into a diatribe. Here's what you need to know: I was wearing my new military jacket and standing in the grim grocery store waiting for my gourmet latte when an old sport walks in--Brevard is chock-full of old sports, southern variety--and says "Hey Sarge." Nyuk nyuk!
Old men are becoming a problem for me. I deal with a lot of them in my line of work and while I used to see old men as sweet and fragile, I now see them entirely as a group of depraved dirty leches. (I am a tongue-in-cheek person in case you are new here). One old fellow came into the library and, long story short, mistook my friendliness for something more and started some garden variety stalking. He was going in to the library almost every day asking for me and even went to my husband's work trying to track me down. When he finally did find me at work, he asked me where I live (I did not tell him), told me that if my husband wasn't "being good to me" he was going to "beat him up" because I'm "gorgeous" and then he asked me if I was still having sex with my husband.
That was when I told him he was making me very uncomfortable and walked away.
Since then I have been pretty put off by old men altogether. They come into the library and tend to call me honey or sweetheart or gorgeous. There is one who likes to make disparaging comments about how little I am being paid and others who harangue me for "standing around". It is all condescending and rude. I feel that any level of friendliness will be taken as encouragement, and so I've become a bit of an ice queen. You know that thing where men tell women, "Smile!"? Well, men should know, the reason we're not smiling is because at some point we have smiled at the wrong guy and ended up being stalked. Or worse.
Look this was supposed to be a blog about a military jacket.
I smiled politely at Sarge because I am trained to be nice and it's a hard habit to break. And Sarge probably meant well but the thing is, I would really like to go about in the world and have it understood that my appearance and my person are not available for comment. I don't want to make small talk or listen to your story or smile over your stupid joke about my clothing, OLD CHAP, simply because I am female and can therefore be relied upon to "be nice". I mean, do men deal with this? Do little old blue hairs just feel free to condescend to young men, and are the young men expected to smile about it?
What I wish I had said to the man is, I am not your sarge, I am fem!Dean. He wouldn't have known what that meant and neither do you, probably. My dad told me, "Never let a man call you baby!" and I guess he should have added, "Or Sarge!" Maybe I should have just snapped, "Don't look at me in the eye!", thrown my latte, and run away. He said a few more things and I smiled but made no replies. The college-guy barista handed me my coffee and I did not say thanks stud or thanks baby or are they paying you to look good? I just said thank you and walked away.