Staring at the wall – what can a man do when women trade a glimpse for a tip?
I like women. I’m not sure that’s a politically correct admission but I’ll risk it. I’ve always liked women, even before I knew why. Even before they were women. I like listening to women, talking to women, admiring women, loving women. I like watching them play with their hair. Making them laugh, listening to them laugh. Like watching them undress or dress, like women in clothes, street threads or evening wear. Women don’t talk hockey incessantly and don’t try to be the alpha male in a group. Women are life.
Where once a pretty girl with a skirt up to here and a top down to there would grab me below the belt, it now elicits a calmer, restrained response. “That’s a pretty girl,” I might tell my partner. Not even a hint of drool hanging from the corner of my mouth.
But now, I can also admire a buffed dude and say, “That’s a good-looking guy.” It’s youth and beauty, qualities absent in my mirror.
Sex scenes in films have become an obstruction rather than salt on the popcorn. Been there, done that, let’s get on with the story. But, as my friend, Jim, says, “I’m not dead yet.” A young woman’s charms remain alluring though my preferred demographic has changed. Kids and men leered at Playboy and Penthouse women and thought nothing of the fact they were often 18-20. Seems like pedophilia to me.
I perform songs in clubs from time to time and enjoy the happy smiles of 20-something women on occasion on and off the stage. I’m struck by their innocence, their ambitions and my certainty that their road ahead will be rockier than they imagine. Neither prey nor predator, I want to become avuncular and whisper, “Be careful. Women are almost always prey. Be careful.”
Women want to be equal, they don’t demand superiority. Unfortunately, equality now means women can punch each other in the ring or kill strangers in foreign lands from the cockpits of fighter/bombers. Those who give birth can now deliver death. Not sure equality in all things is a good thing – a debate for another day.
In restaurants and stores suffering through Covid recovery, some young women serving tables and retail customers have opted for less is more. Less fabric translates, it is believed, to more tips. They will bend over to scoop my ice cream – “How about some cleavage with your mocha almond fudge?” – or reach into a refrigerated counter for an addition to my dinner and reveal more than I need revealed at 10 a.m, at least from a stranger almost 50 years younger than me. I know I’m getting my buttons pushed.
“Take a look and when the credit-card gizmo asks how big a tip you want to leave, remember the view.”
Rather, I’m embarrassed. I try to look at their eyes or the ceiling or the wall. I have a devout friend who discovered in Islam that women in burkas, revealing only their eyes, are sensual. And, in the present era of masks, in places like the garden store or even a restaurant where breasts are not on the menu, I have found that to be alluringly true. And you can look a woman in the manicured eye and not feel lecherous.
I’m puzzled by women who dress in little but obsessively tug at tops clinging to their nipples. Seems a lot of work to reveal the desired amount of plumage. Women are beautiful without displaying themselves. Their bodies give life and, also, on occasion, a curry of suicidal ideations, stupidity, longing, lust and unfathomed joy. It’s brain-twisting and crazy-making and life affirming and the stuff of most fiction. What’s a tale without a love story?
I’m puzzled by the urges we were almost all born with. Men are genetically disposed to admire breasts, hips and buttocks, symbols of fertility, part of our role as sperm injectors, scientists say. But, I resent being played for tips day and night. At the same time, I’m a normal male fascinated and compelled by the female body. No, I ain’t dead yet. Is there a time and place for a beautiful woman to publicly display her charms like a mating peacock? Maybe. Maybe not.
Youth and beauty slowly slide away like sand on a beach. It’s as natural as the appreciation of same. Maybe I am being played. And, maybe, I don’t like playing. Show me the cleavage and I’ll happily double the tip. Nah. There was a time when being a rooster in a hen house would’ve been a career goal. But no more. Maybe I’m just an old fart, turning curmudgeonly.
But, having so far survived Covid and the lockdown and the isolation and addiction to the glowing elephant glass and wide screen TV, I’ve concluded if they got it and want to flaunt it, it’s none of my business. I can, as I do, focus on eyeballs and the groomed eyelashes or the wall behind the body on display, whether it’s for tips or “I’m young and sexy and I like myself enough to unbutton a few buttons and share my charms with you during the course of this transaction.”
I understand the financial pressures that make some commoditize their bodies. But, it’s not a game I want to play. I tip more if you don’t show me more than I need to see when I’m buying fresh pasta. A real smile and a happy welcome polishes the transaction.
No, I’m not dead yet. Maybe an old fart. Or, just maybe, I resent women feel they need to expose themselves to pay the rent. But, there’s nothing new there.