Dear Guy Who Called Out to Me During My Morning Walk:
I know you meant it as a compliment. I know you were trying to be nice, to be neighborly, to make conversation. I applaud that, in this country of driving right into garages and rarely acknowledging the people who live around us. I appreciate the smile, too, the friendly way you waved so I would know to take out my headphones and be able to hear what you said. Once, a guy at the bus stop thought I was being a bitch because I didn’t reply to him, but he never saw my headphones. So, I like the gesture. Really, I do.
But no, I do not go for walks to “make America more beautiful.”
I walk so I can eat whatever the hell I want without feeling guilty. I walk so I can enjoy a cocktail or two, or the occasional beer, without even thinking that beverages, too, have calories. I walk so I can still fit into my damned pants and only go shopping for new clothes because I feel like buying something new and not because I’ve outgrown my old jeans. I walk so I might live well into my 80s, a feat my father certainly didn’t accomplish.
Do I want to feel pretty? Sure. I’m human. Hell, I’m human female, and I live in America. I’ve been brainwashed from the age of consciousness. I get it. But I am not window dressing. I am not scenery.
I am out for my morning walk, face unwashed, hair greasy, sports bra sweat-stained. I am not focused on beauty. I am simply focused.
And I laughed it off, not replying, because – again – I’ve been brainwashed into thinking I should actually say thank you to such a bizarre comment, and while I won’t say thank you I also can’t quite bring myself to confront the well-meaning guy in his front yard at 7:30 on a Monday morning who was just trying to call out to a neighbor and (in his misguided way) offer a word of praise.
I may, however, choose a different walking route from now on.