In my single days, I paid a lot of attention to what my clothes said about me. My mother and father had drilled into me what boys thought of girls who dressed like harlots, so I wore jackets over my low-cut shirts and heavy black stockings with my flirty babydoll dresses. I liked to imagine that my look said something like, “You can look, but if you come near me, I will totally blow my rape whistle.”
Once I met my husband, though, I gratefully relaxed my standards. Finally, I could leave the jackets and opaque stockings at home when the two of us went out on the town, because I was with someone, a muscular someone who’d knocked heads together more than once back in the day, and looked sort of like he might just do it again if given the opportunity. Even now, two babies and seven years down the road, I eagerly anticipate our date nights (the ones on which we opt for a bar instead of a bookstore, anyway) as a chance to put on some Paris Hilton-approved little black dress and play the party girl, if only for a few hours.
But occasionally, I’m thrown for a loop.
Last week, we were out on one such date night when we met a man my husband vaguely knew from some news story or other. The guy joined us at the bar and, after introducing himself to me, quickly launched into the long and incredibly dull story of his life. He was good about eye contact, gazing both at my husband and at me as he spoke, but there was a third party he regularly addressed in his unending soliloquy, one that threw me slightly off guard …
Never before had my boobs been so included in any public conversation. The girls were made privy to the details of this man’s sordid divorce, they played captive audience to his tale of going from rags to riches, and they were even given the news of his plans to buy a downtown high-rise. Meanwhile, I sat, stone-faced and still as a Kitchen-Aid on a bachelor’s countertop, not wanting to encourage the dude with a smile or any jiggling that might make a long story even longer.
“Well, you do sort of have them on display,” my husband said when I mentioned the objects of the guy’s attention once we’d finally gotten rid of him.
I glanced down at the v-neck on my halter dress. “I do,” I admitted. “And I wasn’t offended. It was just…. awkward. I mean, they’re boobs. Not psychiatrists. They’re not good listeners, you know?”
The whole thing reminded me of a male friend of mine in high school, who was completely incapable of talking to any girl without looking down at her boobs every ten seconds, regardless of whether she was wearing a tight t-shirt or a heavy overcoat. You got used to it after a while, but I never could figure out why this otherwise highly intelligent boy couldn’t keep his eyes up where they belonged.
As adults, most men have learned that you can’t sneak a peek at a woman’s boobs during a conversation without her noticing, but from time to time, I’m sure you’ve all run into guys that just can’t keep their eyes from dipping south. Repeatedly. There’s nothing you can do, really, except treat it like an embarrassing tic, but can you imagine a woman having this problem? “I’m sorry, what did you say? I just can’t stop looking at your, um. Zipper.”
Dudes. What the hell?