On a recent Monday morning, I found myself nodding off on the train. Two stops before I was supposed to get off, I startled myself into consciousness, my eyes opening to the sight of some dude’s bulge, less than a foot away from my face. It was testing the elasticity of his skinny jeans and the elasticity was losing. And I started to wonder: Are men aware of this common happenstance—that their crotches are at eye level with passengers sitting on the train? Did he plan his attire for this reason? Am I just a voyeur pawn in his exhibitionist game, or am I a casualty because it’s very unlikely this man is straight?
Not a few days later, during rush hour, I was literally in the same position but facing a slightly roomier pair of jeans. When I glanced up to see whose human face was attached to the package, it was a young man of 15 or 16 years old. I felt like I needed to rinse out my eyeballs. Then I suddenly had flashbacks to the female student I had in my college writing-comp class who always wore crazy-low-cut tops and who would come over to my desk and lean over into me and ask for help on sentence structure. You just can’t help but notice these things, even if you don’t want to. And I do find myself noticing these things more in the last few years and I think my student noticed me noticing too. Which is scary shit because I’m now old enough to be considered a legitimate pervert.
I’m no law expert on this, but I believe there’s a socially unsaid cut-off point between being a young, hormonal freak and a straight-up creep (maybe 14?) and then, decades later, maybe around the age of 65, you get a reprieve and can sort of segue past the straight-up-creepo line into the harmless-and-inappropriate-elderly territory.
I’ve watched my grandpa, and now my dad, make this crossover with grace—their eyes follow the waitress’ ass a bit too long as she walks away, they mumble some cheesy pick-up line under their breaths and all of us younger folk at the table chuckle and shake their heads. It’s an awesome era of life when you don’t have to give two fucks—you can wink or scratch your ass, and people may think “gross, old person,” but no one is calling the cops or their moms.
I believe the female equivalent of this brand of endearingness would be Blanche Devereaux ala The Golden Girls. And that I can do.