“you sure did something to me when you spoke to me. i didn’t even need viagra. bam, through that brick wall back there.”

the drums drowned out the competing music from some of the other stalls and it gave the old man an excuse to lean in to my ear after he tapped my shoulder to get my attention.

it wasn’t the first thing he’d said to me today. hell…it wasn’t even the third or fourth. it was the lewdest though. escalating from, “are you 18?” to “if i had a woman like you i would quit smoking drinking and running around” and ending with implications of what he wanted to do to me.

the last time i encountered that kind of obscenity was in new orleans before 2005. i was working a job fair and was passing niceties with a an older man who seemed harmless until he passed by me smiling, reached out to shake my hand and leaned in. his comment had something to do with what the sight of my legs were doing to him and what he’d like to do to me in return.

i don’t think i wore that dress again until last year.

the thing is, i got hit on all day today. i wasn’t dressed particularly provactively. in fact i was completely covered. and even if i wasn’t it shouldn’t matter. the attempts at conversation and queries about my dating/marital status don’t bother me. and if i’m really honest with myself i know i’m an agist.

i’m pretty sure young guys have been inappropriate (although maybe not) and i just don’t take it the same way. but something about the purveyors of such ugliness being older than my dad…that destroys me in a very particular way.

when the old man first spoke to me today i thought him harmless. i could see my grandfather in the way his cheeks folded over the corners of his mouth, in the age creeping into his gait. i guess i just don’t want to think of the most important men in my life reducing me to my sexual functions.

and then there is just the gross factor.

in south africa men would often shake hands and then circle their finger in the palm of my hand. it was an innuendo – a suggestion of sex. and without fail it would make me feel as small as it did angry. without fail it would make me feel dirty and shamed despite my innocence in the matter.

i should be accustomed to it. i should be hardened against it. i should be over it. but i’m not. and even though i wasn’t wearing that dress today…i may not wear it again any time soon. just in case…

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