One of my goals for 2017 is to start a more consistent exercise program… of some sort. I don’t really care if it’s ensuring that I get 10,000 steps in a day or if I swim laps for 45 minutes. I just want to know that, most days of the week, I’ve used my body. Done something good for it.
And so I’ve been finding myself at the pool lately.
I find the pool intimidating. How does one know which lane to swim in? How does one ensure that one doesn’t crash into that person flying by oh-so-close? How does one wander about in their bathing suit while running into colleagues and such? How does one get over their fear of running into Aggressive Guy whilst in a bathing suit?
I was at the pool last week. I’d been swimming laps and was feeling really good as I opened the door to the sauna and saw three men in their early 30s look up as I entered. I hesitated for a moment in the way that most women do when confronted with a room of only men. But I went in. Because it’s the public pool, it’s a safe place, and there’s nothing to worry about. Silly me for my hesitation.
Let’s call these three gentlemen: Guy 1, Guy 2, and Guy 3.
Guy 3 leaves the sauna within a few moments of my entering.
Guy 2: “Did you see his new girlfriend?”
Guy 1: “Yeah, she’s totally a downgrade from the last chick.”
Guy 2: “Totally. She’s still pretty hot though.”
Guy 1: “Nah. I don’t go for the fake boobs. So many of the chicks in the hot tub tonight have fakes.”
Guy 2: “I hate fakes. She really is a downgrade.”
Guy 1, apparently realizing that this conversation might be inappropriate, glances over at me, assesses my situation, and says: “I really like natural boobs.”
Guy 2, realizes that they have been less than gentlemanly with their conversation, glances at me, assesses my situation, and says: “And personality. Really I just want a good personality.”
(Throughout this conversation I had my head down and my eyes half shut in an attempt to block them out. Politely.)
They then proceeded to discuss the girls in the hot tub and which of them they figured had fake boobs. They rated their bodies and hotness.
At another iteration of “Fake boobs are so gross” I lifted my head, looked the offender in the eye, and said: “I guess it just depends on how good the surgeon is.”
(I’m not sure why this is what I chose to say. It was like my Santa Claus moment of a couple years ago. That’s what slipped out.)
Both guys turned bright red at the confirmation that I wasn’t in fact deaf and one stuttered out a: “Sorry, we weren’t trying to be rude.”
I shrugged, smiled, and replied that it was all good.
I hate myself a little bit for that smile.
But I was in a small contained space with two unknown men and I really did not want to lose my proud post-workout buzz by having to have that conversation.
You know the conversation. The conversation that asks them if they would be okay with their mothers, daughters, sisters, wives or girlfriends being spoken about in the way that they were talking about the ‘downgrade girlfriend’. (And can we just think about this for a moment… )
The conversation that asks them if they wanted me to dissect their bodies as I sat in the sauna with a friend. Should I speculate that they probably have small dicks? ED? (What is the equivalent on a man of fake breasts on a woman?)
The conversation that asks them why the fuck I need to ask them these fucking questions.
So I smiled at them. And I made nice. Because I didn’t have the energy for that conversation on this particular day. Because I’m good at backing down. Because men kind of scare me and life seems to reinforce that that’s smart.
And I shut down that little voice inside that wondered how lacking they found my body, encased as it was in a one piece swimsuit with far too much cleavage. What did they think about the dimples on my thighs, the very visible dent in my ass from a fall last year? What did they have to say about my lack of makeup, about my too-high BMI? About the stretch marks littering the undersides of my upper arms?
I’ve fought so hard to be okay in my body. It had been a fight to get myself to the pool that night. To expose myself in such a way.
And to find that all my fears were true? That the men I passed in on the deck really were staring, make assessments, and certainly finding me lacking?
Suddenly I remembered this…
Yeah. I still need to remind myself of that once in awhile.
I don’t care to excuse guys who talk like this anymore. The men in my world don’t. Boys won’t be boys. Boys need to Find Something Else to Talk About. Fuck off. Realize that my body, and the bodies of all those women in the hot tub, are not fodder for your amusement.
Seriously boys. It’s time to grow the fuck up.