Sultry summer weather has arrived and short, flirty dresses are starting to appear. I saw one today. A black designer dress with sculpted armholes, a high neck, and a swinging skirt made for strutting. The woman wearing it walked towards me, all long shapely legs and curling blonde hair loosely falling in a sweep down the side of her head. She was stunning with her chunky gold necklaces and dozens of thin bracelets tinkling on her arm; as classic and strategically put together as any actress preparing for red carpet scrutiny.

I The Finishing Touch by Coles Phillipshad exited the MACC – the Mercy Ambulatory Care Center – a building stuffed with physician’s offices and I assumed she was a drug rep. She had the vibe; the best-dressed person in the room, formal yet confident, keeping their energy high as they wait for a moment of the doctor’s time. Of course, I stared. Captured by this vision appearing in the eye-scorching mid-morning sun.

Me, I’m mostly at peace with my body, with my age, with the way society puts them together and dismisses me. I walk around speculating my speculatory thoughts alone in my bubble. But this woman caused a momentary stumble. The glaring sun felt like a spotlight shining on the denim house dress I wore. I’d purchased it at an end of season clearance a decade earlier and now used it as my swimsuit cover up. I’d sewn calico stars on the bodice, embarrassed by the casino icons embroidered underneath. I was wearing Crocs for God’s sake and before me, a perfectly put together woman pointed a sandal-clad pedicured foot towards me, and I had a flash of self-doubt.

She passed by, and I complimented her on the dress. I surprised her, oh not the compliment; it was deeper than that. As if she didn’t expect someone who looked like me would dare to speak to her or perhaps my comment was simply inane. Dismissed along with all the other ‘got no game’ comments lobbed at her throughout the day. Here I was doing it too. Sorry to add to the misogyny. Beautiful women will do that to you.


  1. I have experienced this too, and on both ends. When I was young I was often told I was good looking. Sometimes I received unwanted affection from a girl at a party or in a casual meeting. I remember feeling pangs when I did not respond with the appropriate courtesy. Now I see it on the other end. When I start a conversation with most young people, they look at me like I am an alien. Last week I was in the book store and wanted to buy my granddaughter a book. Not knowing much about Young Adult books, I asked a teenage girl if she might suggest something for me. She looked at me as if I were attacking her with a machete. Sometimes I will see a pretty girl and refrain from the kind of complement you gave to your drug rep person. I feel such would not be well received. Which is strange, because a complement should be a kindness. Gee, you look nice. What pretty eyes you have. I like your suit. And this isn’t exclusive to my comments toward women. It might be a comment to a man. God forbid I should do that and have him think me as some crazy old homosexual. At least you as a woman CAN comment on a woman.

    We can’t control how people react to us. We can only strive to treat others in a considerate way.

  2. You’re right Jim. I am fortunate I am allowed to make comments to women. I do it often. Usually, I am struck by their inner beauty, and I can’t stop myself. My compliments are, generally, well received. They are few and far between for most of us.
    As part of my status as a batty old lady, I pledge to continue calling people Dear, thanking them for their courtesies, and complimenting when I notice. Sensitive men know such compliments are often unwanted, intrusive and might cause anxiety or angry rebuttals. I am sorry this is the case. Spreading the love makes me feel good and I wish more of us felt empowered to share.

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