creative commons photo by William W. Ward

Dear Guy Who Called Out to Me During My Morning Walk

creative commons photo by William W. Ward

creative commons photo by William W. Ward

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.

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