April 15, 2011

Is This a Bad Day?

Yesterday morning, I left for work dressed for the temperature, not the windchill. Since I walk to work, this makes a difference. At one point, I thought, This is stupid. If I had to do anything more than walk a mile and a half, like stop walking at some point, being dressed like this would kill me. Ah, Minnesota spring.

Still, chilly weather is good for something. In this case, it was pushing my heart rate without sweating to death (or even beyond the requirements of office etiquette). Spring and fall, between icy sidewalks and saunas, is a good time to get in aerobic exercise instead of just movement on my commute.

That put me going at a good clip as I rounded the last corner before the office, which put me a few feet in front of a couple of guys talking as they walked together. One of them sped up to (I assume) try to pass me. He couldn't. I walk pretty quickly for a short woman.

So, instead, he decided to tell his friend that I walked "too fast" to show off my ass. Then he proceeded to describe what ought to be done with my ass "right here." From three feet behind me. Loudly. With hand gestures I could partly see out of the corner of my eye.

I tweeted about it. Why? These things should be documented for those who don't see them because they don't happen when said people (i.e., guys) are around. Not that my friends don't trust me when I say that this happens to me, but here, now, and details all matter when you want to provide a visceral understanding. If you stand next to me, it won't happen, but I'll cheerfully put you next to me when it happens.

People on Twitter were suitably supportive, and I went about my day.

Later, I was chatting with one of my twitter friends about this post on whether there are "hot" authors in science fiction. I was annoyed with "pretty pretty versus scifi pretty" and particularly with the idiots who decided to discuss how one woman rated while she stood in front of them. To the best of my reckoning, "scifi pretty" is nothing more than "I'm so simultaneously drawn to and terrified by your smarts that I can't see straight enough to fully engage in my normal judgmental, anti-social behavior." Let's just say the discussion says far too much about the people trying to make the decision.

My friend and I were talking about why we wouldn't even want to touch a discussion that seemed designed to reinforce boring stereotypes, elevate the importance of superficial criteria, and make people feel bad about themselves. Instead, we held our own private appreciation fest over those in F&SF who are hot in all sorts of ways (not an insignificant number of people).

At one point, I complimented his partner. He agreed enthusiastically. Then he asked, "Is this a bad day to compliment your looks?"

Never mind what the compliment was. I'm not going to tell you--not that and not the compliment I paid him. Because as nice as it was, being asked about how I was doing after my morning was an even bigger compliment.

It told me he was paying attention to my day. It recognized that paying me a compliment was supposed to be a benefit to me. It recognized that my needs of the moment might not include validation of my appearance. It was risky in a society where we have few templates for that kind of behavior, particularly since he and I have never had that sort of chat. In short, it was tailored to me in a way that compliments almost never are.

I love having friends who are that adult, that adept. And I love that a day that starts with that kind of crappy personal interaction can end with some of the best. Not a bad day at all.

And sorry, boys and girls, but I'm pretty sure that his current romantic relationship means he's not available for more.


D. C. said...

And sorry, boys and girls, but I'm pretty sure that his current romantic relationship means he's not available for more.

How is this a bad thing?

Our capacity for romantic attachments is limited (in my case, one) but barring atrophy of the soul our ability to appreciate the good people in our worlds ("love," if you will) much, much less so.

You've just given me someone to appreciate, however second-hand. Thank you.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Not at all a bad thing. His current romantic relationship is one of those that works (at least to my outside eyes). But it was really a sideways comment on the desirability of this kind of behavior in a romantic partner more than anything else.

Theo Bromine said...

The challenge for parents, teachers, youth leaders, and mentors is to figure out what we need to do to end up with more people of the second type, and fewer of the first. Somehow, freedom to express sexuality (a good thing) has been subverted into tacit approval of sexualization - a person of the attractive sex is regarded as simply an animated body, as if the sexual attraction somehow provides license to discount or disregard the personhood.

For me, as my sons were growing up, I found it encouraging when I saw that they counted among their friends and associates a variety of males and females, both heterosexual and homosexual, and they gave every evidence of becmoing mature adults of the 2nd type. But my kids were already in the social misfit crowd - perhaps it's a more difficult skill to teach to more normal mainstream kids.

Theo Bromine said...
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