A New Ending to an Old Story

When I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school, I had a crush on a guy named Howard. We sat at the same table in English Literature class. We always had fun together. Even though we were just friends, I was grateful to have someone to romantically obsess over. It took my mind off my dysfunctional home life.

One time, as the teacher blathered on about some classical poet who interested me not at all, my thigh happened to accidentally touch his. It was like the best electric shock imaginable. My hormones were already off the charts at that age. But this was epic.

And the most amazing part was that he didn’t move his leg, so neither did I. We sat there through class that way, and I was swimming in a veritable sea of lust, thinking, “Omigod, He likes me back!”

It never occurred to me that that could be possible. No one in school had ever expressed the slightest interest in me. My self-esteem was so low that my main goal was just trying to get through the day without humiliation. On that day, though, nothing mattered but Howard’s thigh.

A week or so later, there was to be a high school dance. I’d never been to a dance. I’d never been to a football game. I didn’t want to go to these things all alone, and I had no one to go with.

I got to class early, and was talking to Howard and another boy who sat at our table, and the boy blurted out, “You should go to the dance with Howard!”

Silence. Utter silence. Maybe Howard had put him up to it. Maybe he wanted to go to the dance with me but was afraid to ask. But what if he didn’t? I certainly wasn’t going to stick my neck out and risk rejection. So I said, “Well, if Howard wants to go to the dance with me, all he has to do is ask.”

And the whole time, in my head, I’m shouting, “Ask! Ask!”

But again, dead silence. Awkward. I thought that maybe he wanted to ask me when no one else was around. Or maybe he didn’t like me after all. Or maybe he was just too shy. Should I ask him? I didn’t have the courage.

No need to keep you in suspense. Howard never asked, and I never went to a high school dance, ever, because he was at the head of a long line of people who never asked.

Howard and I remained friends for the rest of the year. We pretended that the situation had never come up. A lot went unsaid, it seems.

At the end of the year, he mentioned something about being best friends in my yearbook. I was just looking at it the other day. It made me smile.

But we didn’t stay in touch over that following summer, and the next year he didn’t come back to school. I never knew what happened to him. I always wondered.

I hadn’t thought about that in years. I have no idea why it popped into my head the other day. I had given myself closure by thinking that, yes, he did like me, but he was too shy to do anything about it. What a shame, I thought. What a waste. But life goes on.

But of course by now I was thinking about this in terms of a blog post, and I wondered about his side of the story. I thought it might be cool to seek him out on line and ask him. With time and distance and zero desire to pick up where we left off, maybe we both could provide some insight for each other. If he even remembered me, that is.

So I Googled him. Unfortunately, he has a fairly common name, so this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. Add to that the fact that his picture doesn’t appear in the yearbook for some reason, and to be perfectly honest I can’t remember what he looks like, and you can see what a challenge this could be. There were too many people with his name on Facebook.

Even so, I’m pretty sure I found him. A business license revealed a person who lives one town over from the high school, and he’s the right age. I looked on Facebook again for someone from that town, and there was the guy with the business in question, and yes, he mentioned my school in his profile. While his picture didn’t ring any bells at all, he would have been my type.

I sent him a message, but I get the impression he doesn’t Facebook much, so I’m not holding out much hope of an illuminating conversation. And yet I learned a lot from his Facebook page. It fills in much of the blanks in our story. It has taken a turn I hadn’t anticipated.

It seems that Howard likes men. Which means, most likely, that he did back then as well. But in the early 80’s, that’s not something that he would have put out there for general consumption, especially in the rural South. It’s not something that even occurred to me to think about, really. If you had asked me at the time, I wouldn’t have had a problem with anyone in the LGBTQ community. It just seemed as exotic and out of my realm as the Dalai Lama.

I have no idea if Howard was struggling with his sexuality when I knew him. I hope not. But clearly he had me in the friend zone. But that, in retrospect, was a precious gift.

I wonder what he thought of the thigh incident. Was he appalled? Completely turned off? Afraid to pull his leg away for fear of revealing himself? Or was he simply confused? I hate the idea that while I was swimming around in my sea of lust, he was bobbing in a pool of uncertainty or disgust. Wherever he might have been, mentally or emotionally, the touch I was giving was not the touch he was receiving.

I hope I wasn’t torturing him. That certainly wasn’t my intent. I am horrified to think that I was sexually harassing him without knowing it.

At least now I know why he never asked me to the dance. It wasn’t about me. But with hindsight, we could have gone as friends and had a great time.

At least now I have a few more answers. I’d love to renew my friendship with Howard. I’m sure we’d have a lot to catch up on. Either way, I will always wish him well and be grateful that he gave a lonely 15-year-old girl something to daydream about.

dancing

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We Have Always Had Needs

Recently, I stumbled across an article entitled “12th-Century Poem About A Virgin Arguing With Her Vulva Uncovered in Austrian Monastery”. I ask you, how could one not be intrigued? I had to read more.

It seems that this is the oldest known copy of this satire, but it is not the only one that has been found. In it, a woman is debating with her vulva about what attracts men more, it, or the woman’s general physical appearance. (I don’t think that question has been answered definitively, even all these centuries later.)

What fascinates me most about this poem is that there was obviously a frank discussion about sexuality even back in the 12th Century. We seem to hold two contradicting notions in our head: Ancient peoples were devoid of morals and self-control, whereas we are more sophisticated (read: prudish) now. But at the same time, we look back at past history, at least in the European, Christian sense, and tend to believe that humans have become more open, less conservative, over time. Clearly neither theory tells the whole story.

I also remember reading an article (which I can no longer find) about a wooden dildo that was found hidden up inside a fireplace niche in Colonial Williamsburg. Well, the “hidden” aspect of it implies there was a source of shame there, but its existence confirms that people have always had needs, and were willing to get creative to fulfill them.

If you look at art through the centuries, you’ll see that there has always been a fascination with genitalia. Most historians nervously attribute these things to fertility, the need to procreate, and take the sexuality out of it.

Hmph.

According to this article, sex toys have been found that date back 28,000 years. So who’s to say that fertility statues weren’t also used for pleasure and visual titillation? I mean, come on. Most of us appreciate a little stimulation now and again. Do we really think pornography originated in the 1900’s? Do we think the more artistic depictions of all things taboo began with Georgia O’Keefe?

We also seem to want to quash the fact that once upon a time, women were considered powerful by more than just those of us who are woke. (Women can create men inside their own bodies. The reverse cannot ever be claimed. That’s magical.)

This article discusses a variety of artistic depictions of female genitalia, including sculptures of the sacred yoni in Hindu art, Venus figurines that are at least 35,000 years old, and Sheela-na-gig carvings of women with exaggerated vulvas that are found throughout Europe.

Further, Baubo figurines were popular in ancient Greece. They were often depicted as a naked headless body with a female face emerging from the torso, and a vulva on the chin. Hmmm.

In the Palauan archipelago, one could often find Dilukai, or carvings of women with their legs splayed open, above the doors of the houses of the chiefs. These were said to be sacred carvings to ward off evil, and symbolize fertility and spiritual rebirth. But missionaries tried to claim they were there to shame immoral women. (I suspect that what went on in the chief’s house had little to do with lessons in morality.)

It is even said that the Vesica Piscis, an almond-shaped symbol that appears all over the place throughout history, including in the ancient Christian fish symbol, is actually a depiction of the female vaginal source of creation.

Personally, I see no reason to cast shame upon those who believe in the sacred female, nor should we feel shame about the body parts that have allowed all of us to walk upon this earth, nor in the urges that have caused us to make use of said body parts. More power to us all.

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A 12th-century Sheela Na Gig on a Church in Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England

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Self-Advertising

I firmly believe in self-expression. I think every adult human should have a right to dress however he or she pleases. I just wish more people would put some thought into exactly how they express themselves.

I’m not referring to that annoying habit that some men have of wearing sandals with knee socks. (I think that looks absurd, but your fashion rights should extend to bad taste as well.) I don’t mean wearing colors that obviously clash or make you look like bozo the clown. (Again, your option.)

I’m talking about when your clothes send an ugly message about what you think about yourself and the wider world.

For example, in this day and age, you can order a t-shirt that says absolutely anything. There are customized print on demand companies that can take your self-expression to the next level. But just because you can wear something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

For example, the t-shirts above definitely send a strong message, but it might not be the one the wearer intends.

  • I don’t care about other people’s feelings.

  • I’m an idiot.

  • I enjoy upsetting people.

  • I have a really warped worldview.

I don’t see how wearing a shirt like this benefits anyone, including the wearer. It makes no sense.

And then there are these jeans, which apparently are quite popular at the moment.

flossjeans

Here’s the thing. Most women like to put their best foot forward. At least that has been my experience. So if you want to wear jeans like these, I assume that you think your most redeeming quality is your body. And there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your body. I vaguely remember what that’s like. But these jeans (or the lack thereof) say to the wider world that your sexuality is your primary selling point. It would be much classier, in my opinion, to walk down the street naked.

Hyper-sexual clothing makes me very sad. I know a lot of amazing women, and what makes them amazing is not their physical form. It’s who they are. It’s their intelligence. It’s their kindness. It’s their abilities. I bet the model above is a very nice person, but I’m quite sure most people who look at that photo aren’t having that thought.

If you are wanting to draw people to you with your self-expression, you might want to ask yourself what kind of people you will draw to you if you’re wearing these jeans or those t-shirts. First of all, you’re going to intimidate a lot of really amazing individuals. You’ll disgust and repel others. And the ones you attract with those jeans, especially, will not be interested in who you are inside. None of these garments say, “Take me seriously.”

I’m not suggesting that women should cover themselves from head to toe, revealing only their eyes. (Unless, of course, they wish to do so, in which case more power to them.) I’m not saying that no one should voice their opinions. And I’m definitely not telling you to be ashamed of your own body.

I’m merely saying that showing the world that you have dignity and respect, especially self-respect, and inviting them to learn more about you through civil conversation will be, in the long run, a great deal more appealing to those who will be most likely to treat you decently.

And when all is said and done in this insane world of ours, decency is what we all deserve.

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Poking Fun at Hitler

So I’ve been hearing this rumor about Hitler having a very tiny weenie all over the internet for the past few days. My gut reaction was to be thrilled. Not because I think that size is important, or that it says anything about a person’s manhood or sexuality or value as a human being. It mainly made my day because I know that a lot of men take that sort of thing personally, and the thought of upsetting someone like Hitler, even if only from the great beyond, makes me very happy indeed.

I started to write a vicious blog entry about it, but something in the back of my mind made me hesitate. I couldn’t quite nail down what was making me uncomfortable about the topic. I just knew that something wasn’t quite right about dancing on Hitler’s tiny little phallus.

And then it dawned on me. Here it is. First of all, aside from the fact that there’s no real proof, in this day and age we should be more mature and more enlightened. Poking fun at a medical condition isn’t right. There are good people in this world, wonderful people, who suffer from penile hypospadias. That doesn’t make them less manly, if in fact they want to be manly. That doesn’t automatically mean they will be monsters, or even hold a grudge. That doesn’t mean they are all mentally warped into making epic decisions that will devastate generations of human beings.

The fact is, by singling someone out for ridicule based on something over which he has no control, I become no better than that evil man. And I genuinely want to be able to call him a pathetic human being without people thinking I’m taking a jab at sexuality in general.

Besides, the mustache alone is ripe enough for parody. And he had plenty of control over that. (Seriously. What the hell was he thinking?)

So I’ll take the high road and not discuss his wee wee anymore. Small, medium, or large, it has long since converted to dust. He can continue to roast marshmallows in hell without any further input from me.

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Androgyny

“You’ve got a little bit of androgyny going on,” a friend told me recently.

I never really thought about it, but I suppose that’s true. I’ve never been a girly-girl. I don’t wear makeup. I’m more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt than I’ll ever be in a dress. People assume I’m a lesbian all the time. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Androgyny has just never appeared in my mental list of self-describing words. I have womanly desires. I’ve definitely got curves, and I’m told I exude a goodly amount of sex appeal when properly inspired. So this is an interesting new lens through which to look at myself. There’s nothing better than having new perspectives.

Now that I’ve posted my profile on a website under the heading “women seeking men”, I feel like I’m examining myself closer than I ever did before. Who am I? What makes me unique? What is open to compromise and what’s cast in stone?

If you’re into women who wear high heels and perfume and like to giggle, I’m not the woman for you. If you are looking for someone who likes to pretend to be helpless, look elsewhere. I’ve spent too many years taking care of myself for all that foolishness.

Actually, it isn’t foolishness. It’s just on a different part of the psychosocial spectrum than I happen to reside on. Everyone has their purpose and their place. My niche just doesn’t happen to be decorated with lace and silk, which is great, because it leaves more of that stuff for the women who want it.

[Image credit: dapperq.com]
[Image credit: dapperq.com]

“I think those two are funny.”

A friend of mine has a new boyfriend. I got to meet him the other day. Nice looking young man. He had the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen. He seems to be a will-o’-the-wisp, though. He’s very artistic and quite the free spirit. I doubt he’d thrive in a committed relationship, but I don’t think my friend is looking for one. And when my friend asked what I thought of him, I said as much.

Apparently, and this surprised me, I was the only friend who hadn’t brought up the fact that he is black. Honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me that that was an issue, or that it should be a point of concern. I’m not going to say I’m color blind. That’s preposterous. Of course I noticed, just as I would notice if someone is short or tall or fat or thin or blonde or brunette. It just doesn’t matter to me.

Is that because I’m open minded? Yeah, maybe, but I think it’s more that I have enough on my plate without focusing on everyone else’s plate as well. I can’t be bothered to judge these things because I have only so much energy to go around. I don’t see myself as some moral yardstick by which other people should be measured. Not only is it none of my business, but I wouldn’t even want it to be my business. I don’t want to be in the busybody business.

So when a coworker was talking to me at shift change the other day, I was in maximum energy conservation mode. We saw two guys in their 30’s walking across the bridge. We see them together all the time. My coworker looked at me and said, “I think those two are funny.” She wasn’t talking funny ha ha, either. So I said to her, “Who cares?” Not because I was trying to pick a fight or teach her a lesson, but because, sincerely, I could care less.

She spent the next ten minutes backpedaling furiously, telling me about all the gay people she’s known and how they were really, really nice. Different, but nice. Really.

The whole time I was thinking that it must be exhausting, trying to force the whole world to comply with your lifestyle. You must bump into jagged moral rocks all the time and get tossed around like an odd sock in a washing machine. Honestly, I could not summon the stamina for that.

So I guess I couldn’t be counted upon to shut down the government, either. I have no desire to force the world to live by my rules, especially when the vast majority of the world makes it clear that they don’t want to do so.

Maybe there’s something to be said for low energy after all.

who cares