“Two Girls Dissect the Phenomenon of the Whistle”
Pon came into my office with the funniest smile on his face. He came here originally from Lao, and is in his early sixties. He is our head car detailer, and a hard worker. His wife makes the most incredible egg rolls I have ever eaten.
He said to me, “I have a really funny story I want to tell you. So, my younger brother saw this girl walking with your dad at the Christmas party and thought it was you because she was blonde. He said, “What happened? She used to be very beautiful. It wasn’t you. I laughed so hard I was crying.”
I thought carefully about what to say because the girl could have been any number of people I might know and like. I decided to go with humor, “I sure as heck hope when you pointed me out to him, he still thought I was very beautiful.”
He placed his hand on my shoulder as he laughed and said, “He hadn’t seen you for a while.” As his brother is the one who gave me his chips at the party so I could win—he obviously figured out who I was and still thought I was noticeable.
He left the room. Beth looked at me with a horrified face and said, “I feel so bad for that girl.”
I smiled at her sweetly and said, “One of the things I love best about Asians is they simply say things how they see them. However, it is not how our culture works even slightly. But, do not worry. I know there are kinds of beauty out there I do not possess. I am not so conceited as to be unaware of this fact.” I have never felt Beth was jealous of me in this regard, but I did in this moment.
She looked thoughtful and said, “Yes, there is an innocent beauty you do not have.” Ouch, yup... I know. Part of me wonders if this is why my parents thought I was projecting a badass persona. How do you explain to your parents your innocence is gone and never coming back, but that doesn’t mean you cannot still be good? Granted, there is another level to lose I believe... and, I’m grateful I didn’t have to go there. There are some things in which a person can simply be thankful they do not have to understand.
Speaking of an innocent beauty, around this time my cousin walked into the room. She was wearing her adorable glasses which I love because they make her look professional, but they still have a hip look to them. “I love those glasses cousin. I need to get more glasses soon. I am still wearing my mom’s when I need them.”
Trevor who was seated behind me joined the conversation, “I have this fantastic deal on glasses I get whenever I go to...” He started telling me about the deal. It was a very good deal, but I wasn’t interested.
I decided to tell him why, “Okay, so—Chelsea wears these wooden glasses that are so cool. She also has these black ones which are totally that hipster look right now which are also fantastic looking. I have my heart set on getting some like her when the time comes.”
Trevor always makes fun of me, “You do realize the glasses will not make you look like Chelsea?”
Beth added, “You don’t want to have a look just because that is what other people are doing.”
I glared at Trevor, “Now, do I do that?”
He looked embarrassed and looked up at my crocheted teal hat and said, “No, you most certainly do not.”
“Okay, so I can like something about Chelsea’s look and want to copy it. If I walk in here with black hipster glasses and have dyed my hair black then you may lecture me about not joining a fad look.”
He turned his head and said, “Okay, because you are a mother with two children, I would remind you that you do not need to go around looking all hip now you’re a mom.”
I felt my whole body tighten with anger and I said, “Grrr... I do not need to be cool to fit into a look. However, I do enjoy being cool to myself. I don’t get the whole you are a mom now and therefore not cool. I’m not going to ever be one of those moms who needs her kids to think she is cool. However, I don’t understand why caring about your appearance somehow means you are a selfish mom. I think I can care about my kids and still like to look cool to myself.” Then it occurred to me Trevor had been a little weird with me the last few days. I decided to simply let the discussion go and return to my work. I privately decided I would probably need to do something to let Trevor know he was valuable to me in a professional manner with boundaries.
I arrived home and sat at our kitchen counter and told Chelsea about our conversation as she was doing her dishes. “So,” I said. “Your opinion then?”
She rolled her eyes as the hint of honey gold flashed underneath her almond brown iris appeared like it does when she is angry, “Oh good grief, who doesn’t like the occasional whistle? I think us girls all enjoy walking along the side of the road and having a guy whistle at us. I have often thought the ones who say they do not enjoy that are just lying. It isn’t like you become a mom and suddenly want to stop looking good to men. I also think you have a style which doesn’t look like anyone other than yours—so implying you might try to fit into a look is completely unfair.”
I threw my hands in the air in triumph and said, “Thank you!”
She lifted herself slightly on her toes and gestured her palm to the side and opened it as if releasing an idea and said, “I feel like we need to take a moment and contemplate the whistle.”
I started laughing and knew this was going to be good. I nodded at her encouragingly and said, “By all means...”
Her eyes filled with a mischievous glimmer and she said, “Now, if we are talking about a compliment which simply means—you look hot. There is no comparison to the whistle. This is because there really is nothing for the man to earn by whistling at you. It is a compliment given totally unattached to any goal—so you know he meant it.”
I laughed. I absolutely loved she had dissected this phenomenon on a philosophical level and waited for more.
“Think about it.” She told me. “There really is nothing for the man to be gained by whistling at you. He either 1. Gets a look which says, “WTF?” 2. You actually look at him and gesture your hands irritated and say, “What the fuck?” The anger being because you were startled on your peaceful walk. As I said previously, the heterosexual girls who don’t enjoy this I think are lying or brainwashed into thinking being considered sexually attractive is bad. 3. You ignore him and act like you didn’t hear it. Those are really the main three responses a man is going to get—there is nothing in it for him other than to say, “Hey, you look good lady.”
When I finished laughing, I said, “I enjoy it. However, I either ignore the whistle, or I wave. The wave includes a look away from the person whistling. I have found if you make eye contact, he may try to approach you. So, I wave like, “Thanks for saying I look good—now be on your way please.”
She looked thoughtful, “You are right. You have to make sure you don’t make eye contact.”
“Yeah, otherwise you can get a creeper.” Then, we both laughed because we have both experienced having to deal with the consequences of providing too much eye contact and having to get rid of a creeper.
I added, “I think we have established looking good enough to get the occasional whistle is nice. I will say kids do change things. I don’t get whistled at if I have kids with me. There is something to being a mom which does alter the dynamic for sure. It is like this though—let’s say we handed men two pictures. One is of the frumpy mom who had a baby and never recovered her sex appeal. The other is of a mom who looks good again and dresses attractively. Which do you think he would say he would rather be with from the picture? I do not think there is an honest man on the planet who would say he would rather pick the frumpy one because she clearly cares about more important things than appearance.”
She laughed, “Umm. NO... they would all pick the attractive one.”
I continued, “So, we have to ask ourselves why a mother who wants to look attractive again is then frowned upon for doing so by people—especially legalistic Christian people? I think it is because there are men who are married to frumpy women who are jealous their wife doesn’t look like that, and women who are jealous they do not look as good anymore. So, the solution is to decide the person who does look good is therefore vain, and they have made the better choice not caring about surface things. If the person who looks good can also be a caring individual and mom as well—that would mean something is missing in their own life. Consequently, it is far easier to look down upon the person.”
She nodded. “Yes, you look good and clearly care about your children. A person can care about appearance and family.”
I responded, “However, I had a frumpy stage. When my kids were toddlers my ex-husband did not help me at all. He didn’t change diapers, feed them, put away toys, get them in bed... anything. It was not the man’s job to raise children. Since I had no help and did care about my kids; I did look frumpy. When my kids both became capable of doing things for themselves—around four is when they reach the age of being a little more independent from you. I had five years of frumpy. I exercised regularly, but I didn’t have time to give much thought to appearance. When it ended, I looked in the mirror and declared, “You lady will never be confined to having to be frumpy again. You are going to look good the rest of your life. Therefore, I associate the thinking a mother should not take care of herself or she is being selfish—with the oppressive thinking which imprisoned me in my marriage. It really makes me angry.” I personally believe a more complete person does not give of themselves so much they lose themselves. This is not a healthy way of living. There is a place for both giving and receiving or eventually you run empty.
She looked thoughtful as I added, “Secondly, what is this whole thing with age meaning you can’t look good? My mother is 55, a fit kick-boxing instructor, and very fashionable. I am aware I am a mother; it doesn’t mean I have reached the age of being beyond having an interest in fashion.”
“Your mom looks great and is still fashionable,” she said with a sweet and contemplative smile which told me she admired my mom for this.
“Thank you. So, I have made the decision I am going to try to look good in accordance with whatever age I am. “
She had a flash of anger cross her face and she said, “I really think a lot of the thinking which says not to put any importance on appearance is the more legalistic type thinking which would have a woman feel guilty because a man has noticed her. This kind of legalism is unhealthy. I was thinking how before I became a Christian, I had no boundaries. Then, I became a Christian and had extreme and unnecessary boundaries imposed upon me. Now, I am learning what it means to still be a Christian, but have healthy boundaries.”
I laughed, “When you figure that one out will you let me know? I’m curious myself.” Although in truth, I think we are working toward figuring out healthy together right now. We are rather fortunate we have each other in the journey.
@ellowriting @ellowrites #writing #prose #shortstory