I had a somewhat stressful day yesterday. I’m not quite sure why. It started out slightly frustrating, because I had made complex plans which ran into snags. Then I had lots of interruptions — nothing bad, but there I was, knee-deep in numbers, and there were interruptions. An occasional reminder to myself that there are women in the world who spend their days gathering dung for fuel helped.
At a little past four, I quit for the day and took the dog for a walk. She chased a rabbit, a naturally dog-like thing to do which nearly pulled my arm from its socket. Again, no big deal. Before leaving, I had spoken sternly to my kids about doing their chores, an aberration on my part which they politely overlooked. It was an effort not to be shrewish.
At 5:20, as I started cooking dinner, I got a call from The Princess. The local residential facility for troubled youth wants me to come out and do a workshop for them. Happy to oblige, of course. When? Ah, well, that’s it. Today, at 2:00.
They want me to do a session for five teachers teaching kindergarten through fifth grade.
Does that strike you as a wide range? It does me. I have nothing prepared for that particular population, not even handouts. I don’t know what’s in stock at the store that I can grab to put it together. Since it’s only five teachers, I was able to cobble together a minimal kit (before dawn, in my pajamas) of leftovers from previous workshops, and I am hoping that the rest of the things I plan on using will be in stock.
One thing I always do at these workshops is a project with cookies. Naturally, I did not have any white flour. I ran out right after dinner to buy some.
I was in line behind a boy about my son’s age who was buying a copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. I have appended a picture, for the majority of my visitors who don’t know what this looks like. I assume that this is a copyright violation and that it will be gone quite soon, but I want to make sure you know what I’m talking about. He had a package of sliced cheese on one side and a package of lighter fluid on the other, forming a tidy sandwich, the nearly naked cover model rendered essentially invisible. He stepped up to the clerk, a woman about my age.
The young man was paralyzed. He had probably intended that the cheese would completely camouflage the magazine.
“Not in that particular issue,” I said. Now, at that point, it was a kindness on my part. He didn’t have to say anything, because I’d said it already. The clerk could have tucked his magazine and cheese into a bag and sent him on out of there. She didn’t do that.
“I’d hardly even call that a swimsuit,” she said, scrutinizing the magazine.
“That’s the whole point,” I said. “Right?” I said that to the young man, with a cheerful smile which he didn’t return because his face wouldn’t move from the horrified expression it had taken on at the clerk’s first words.
Was I joining her in ganging up on him? After all, we were moms. We had changed the diapers of boys his age, and hadn’t been embarrassed by naked breasts since before he was born. He was completely outclassed. Maybe she would have stopped if I hadn’t been there. I am not sure. It had been a stressful day. “I think the Vogue swimsuit issue is the one where they actually wear the suits,” I offered.
The boy was still paralyzed. There he was, in public, and two women just like his mom were making fun of his racy magazine.
This might be the subject of nightmares for him. For years.
There is a point at which old people can say anything they want, it seems to me. I am not there yet. I remember, at 30, pregnant with my fourth child, recognizing that my centerfold figure would never return. At 40, I discovered that I could no longer jump up off the floor in one easy movement if I’d been sitting there for a while. Now, as I approach 50, I have the occasional moment of finding that my eyes don’t refocus as well as they should when I look at things close up. I have actual for-sure wrinkles. It takes a while for my voice to wake up enough to sing well in the mornings. For quite a few years now I’ve thought, “Hmm… maybe I should introduce him to my daughter” when I meet a handsome young man. Have I reached the point at which I feel free to persecute young people?
I think this guy might have been too young for my daughters.
Of course, one could also say that it was a lesson to the beardless youth not to objectify women. Shall we say that?
Some have cinnamon fur and some have peppermint fur. At Christmas, I made them with coconut fur, which was definitely the cutest so far, but these guys are still pretty cute.
The facility where I’m doing today’s workshop is one I’ve been to before for various educational purposes. As I recall, the entrance procedures were kind of grim. They have a very rapid turnover among their teachers.