I was young. I was cute. Even if I wasn't cute, I was young. And men look at young women. They check them out. They gaze, imagine, evaluate, estimate, long for and follow the curves and movements of young women.
Not so much older women. A nice anonymity follows age. An invisibility. I don't notice it until I am walking with a young woman (usually my daughter) and feel the eyes of men sliding past me to land upon her.
I am not offended. Let me be perfectly clear about this. There is no lament in my soul about this reality. Neither is there relief - in fact MUCH LESS than relief. The gazes of men are gone, their absence unnoticed and the space well taken up with life.
So it was a surprise to me this morning walking into St. Joseph's Hospital East that men were, well, gazing again. And not just gazing, pretty much drooling. Not one, but two men collided opening the main door from the inside so I could walk in. The male heads of the whole waiting room turned to follow my steps across the tile floor. A man almost leaped sideways to let me onto the elevator ahead of him, eying me closely while asking me what floor number I would like him to press. His smile stayed lit, mischievously, all the way to the fifth floor.
A male nurse made eye contact and commented flirtatiously. Another man made a joke and opened the ward door. I was 'Suddenly Marilyn.' Visible. Wanted. Noticed. And carrying a box of fresh Krispy Kreme donuts.
So much has changed!