The other day I was seeking a hat to protect myself from further sun damage. I used to get a sprinkling of freckles across my face when I was younger that are now joining together and looking more blotchy than cute. My misspent youth of skipping school to sunbathe while chain smoking has caught up with me. I have a complexion that is becoming more mottled and marbleized by the day. My vanity is affronted by the indignity.
Trying to find a hat has proven to be a challenge. I don’t have that breezy ability to don a hat without looking like I am trying too hard. Sporty baseball caps ruin cute outfits. I fear looking like a middle aged hipster wannabe, and I don’t want to look like a granny taking a break from gardening. There are few options for a mottle-skinned, vain peacock like myself.
As I was sighing over hat options I was approached by a man who opened with, “You look like a European girl. I was watching you and thought to myself, she doesn’t look like a Canadian girl.” I was instantly pleased, imagining that I must look coquettishly French or perhaps coolly statuesque and Nordic. “Why thank you,” I murmured, hoping that I sounded vaguely exotic. There was a strained pause while I awkwardly fondled hats, wondering if I would have to fend off a cheap pick-up attempt. After a moment of us both staring at a straw fedora the man continued,“Do you go to the gym a lot? Because you have very strong looking hands.”
Any temporary ego boost I had enjoyed was instantly squashed. Strong hands? Does that mean man-hands? I stared at my hands with their non-existent fingernails, horrified, my self image as a French ingenue dashed. Perhaps this man was a kinky freak who enjoyed being mauled by brutish women with catcher’s mitts for hands. When he said I looked European I had imagined looking mysterious with a certain je ne sais quoi flair. Suddenly memories of watching the Olympics in the Seventies came flooding back, particularly the steroid ridden female athletes from the Soviet Union. Instead of feeling like an ingenue from a Godard film, I felt like a Russian shot-put champion with meaty paws and a mustache.
I assembled my most haughty expression, dropped the hat from my giant paws, said a quick good bye and left the store. Compliments can come in different forms I suppose. If I were a delicate flower of a woman I may be offended if someone commented on how wispy I looked. Perhaps someone else would feel pleased to hear that her hands look muscular. Being a woman of a certain age I guess I should be pleased that anyone notices me at all. Even if it is a stranger with a Russian shot-putter, man-hand fetish.