Day 23 - Intentions, Expectations & Perverts
The kids and I go to the beach every Sunday. It is my church. It is the only thing I do all week that allows me to just be. I have no agenda. No place to be. Nothing to do. We just go to the beach and exist. When my ass hits my seat, sometimes it feels like it is the first conscious breath I take all week. (And I meditate daily!). It is such a contrast to my life generally. Filled with activity and stress. I sit and watch the waves roll in and out with nothing else to do but witness its power and elegance. I walk the beach looking for nothing and enjoy the peaceful nature of my thoughts. Whenever I have something or someone I need to let go of, I write their name in the sand and watch while the waves literally wash them away. It is my ritual for letting go.
On that sand I have had so many realizations. So many moments that a new thought is born and makes an impact on how I live my life. When I say it is my church, I am not joking. It feels more spiritual, more religious than anything else I do. It is holy to me.
So I am sitting on the beach yesterday. The kids have both brought friends and the teenagers have taken an adult-free walk. I am left alone, toes in the sand. I watch the surf awhile then make a call to discuss something with a friend. While I am on the brief call, a man walks by me and makes small talk. I have never seen him on the beach before. He is not a regular. He looks like someone from out of town. Maybe an Eastcoaster. He makes polite conversation to which I reply. He ends with what a beautiful smile I have. I thank him then return to my call. My friend pokes fun at me saying I am working it. We laugh and return to our discussion. When the phone call ends a few minutes later I realize that the absence of children provides me an opportunity to read a little. I pull out one of my Buddhist magazines and start reading.
The same man walks the beach in front of me. The tide is low and he is in the distance. Now he is on the phone. He keeps looking back at me. He smiles. I smile and continue reading.
Now once upon a time, I would have allowed meaning to attach to this scenario. Since I was always waiting to fall in love, I would have ascribed meaning to this encounter. Since I am on the man ban and it doesn’t matter what man the universe throws my way, I did not give the whole situation much importance. That makes me feel pathetic owning that but it is the truth. Every man I met for decades, I would think “is he THE ONE?” I have stopped asking that question.
I am reading and enjoying the day despite the cooler temperature. Then man and I think his father gather their things and prepare to leave. Both of them make small talk with me as they pass and then exit the beach. I hear the younger man say to his dad, he forgot something and he will be right back. I think to myself, “he is going to come back and ask for my number.” I begin to panic because I don’t know what to say to this. Do I tell him about the boycott? Do I just politely refuse? Do I give him my number then explain myself later? All of this is swirling in my head while I am trying to read an article about the sexual abuse allegations within the Buddhist communities...Man returns, walks by me. Says something funny. I keep reading. Man returns with no items in hand and says the following:
I hope you have a great day
Thank you for letting me look at you today.
Um, ok. (Like I had any control over what or whom he looked at)
Hope you don’t mind because you are hot.
Thanks. (Feeling weird and uncomfortable).
I am going to take one last look.
Silent (I do not want to be here anymore)
I am going to remember this for later. Hope you don’t mind.
I GOT IT SO FUCKING WRONG!
I thought this guy was flirting with me and wanted to ask me out. What he really wanted was to use the images of me in his head to jerk off to later. I felt violated. I felt like my church and my presence in it had been desecrated.
What the actual fuck?
Now I can easily see that his guy was just a decent looking weirdo that has absolutely no couth whatsoever. But the icky feeling did not subside right away. It lingered. Much like the man did on the beach. This caused me to remember that I have felt like this a lot in my life.
Seems I have forever gotten men and their intentions wrong. I have forever mistaken sexual interest for actual human interest. I think when someone has shown an interest in me it is because they see something in me that they want to get to know better. I mean this is what I think when I meet a man. Something in him engenders a willingness and interest to get to know him better. I have ascribed this to men and I can see now how wrong I have been.
Now what I am about to say, certainly does not apply to all men in all situations or to all women either...
Interest for men is really sexual. They lead with that and are most are ok if that is the only place it takes them. I think most men only become truly interested in the human being later. After the fucking has either been satisfied (rarely) or in the time period we women make them wait for sex.
Interest for women is more humanistic. We want to know who we might be fucking before fucking them. We want to know if they are kind, employed, a parent, really single. Women seem to have a lot more discernment in this area.
Besides being creeped out, I am reeling from me me completely misreading the signals of this man. What I mistook for interest was really just a sexual advance. When I realized this it was as if I was watching a movie of my entire past with this new insight overlaid. I could see just how wrong I was about so many of my interactions. I ascribed human interest when the men were really only communicating a desire for sex.
How can I be almost 50 and just seeing this? How can I have been so misguided all these years?
Fuck if I know. The whole situation made me feel gross. It made me feel used. I also felt embarrassed and ashamed that he thought I was hot. The way he said it was like an accusation. Like it was something I was doing to him or for him.
The whole ordeal left me rattled. I felt dirty and in some way like I invited the comment by even talking to the guy. I was being polite, I was being friendly. I am on a fucking man ban for fuck’s sake. I was not trying to get laid while at the beach with FOUR teenagers!
It took me most of the rest of the day to shake off the ick factor and feel less used and dirty. It also made me see that I have always and forever made this mistake and been this let down. I have always thought that men were interested in me as a person. And some were. But most, were just looking for a conquest or a hook up. I realized that I got it so fucking wrong all these years.
As much as this pains me to say this, I am grateful for this degenerate yesterday. His unabashed deviance was just what I needed to wake the fuck up and address my own naivety. What it left me with was a sincere and now deeper desire to be single and man free. Mr. Eastcoast perve is not representative of all men but it did show me where I have been stuck for a long time. How much my own expectations have led me to some ugly encounters...and now, how I can change those expectations to more squarely fit with reality.