Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm never going to get laid wearing these clogs

I'm romantically rusty. This is best evidenced in my current choice of footwear.

Nobody wants to fuck a woman wearing clogs. Maybe the Dutch. Maybe. And unfortunately, I've never been much for heels. The cautious type, I tend to wear shoes that allow me to haul ass, whether it’s to catch a bus or outrun a serial killer. Basically, I want my footwear to prepare me for the worst life has to offer. 

But now that I'm in England for the next few months, these ugly-ass clogs have to go. And make room for penis. See, there's a guy I like here. It's a minor crush but enough to prove I still have a heart and pussy. This man I like (Maurice, as I'll call him) owns a little restaurant where I have breakfast a few times a week.

I wasn't even sure I liked him at first, that crushy feeling felt so foreign. Then I found myself laughing a little too hard at his jokes and looking over my newspaper to check out his fine ass in black jeans. The strange feeling in my stomach? Not indigestion but butterflies. Wow...who knew they were still possible?

So I traded out the fuck-me-not clogs for a pair of boots I scored at a local charity shop. Not super sexy per se...but sexier.

But something still seemed wrong. With every encounter with Maurice, my brain turned to mush. Clever thoughts turned into inane utterances that left him scratching his head in confusion. Any elegance I thought I had was replaced with clumsiness, including knocking a glass out of his hand one morning while I was gesturing wildly about something or other.

And of course, the language barrier didn't help. Don't let them fool you: Americans and Brits share the language in theory only. In Northern England especially, the dialect is thick and spoken quickly. This lead to even more awkward exchanges and punch lines that only made sense in my head.

This whole process started to feel painful, not fun. Even with improved footwear, I felt like a pimply, stuttering teenager asking a boy to the Sadie Hawkins dance.

So I worked on more externals even more. But the act of beautification just highlighted all the shitty ways I've been feeling about myself in the first place. The expression "putting lipstick on a pig" came to mind but that sounds too self-punitive. More like "putting lipstick on a lazy, disillusioned yet horny middle-aged woman whose attempts to look attractive feel like an insult to her threadbare soul."

No game, no game at all. That's because the clogs on my feet weren't the problem. It was the clogs in my head that kept me from getting lucky. I had turned into a practical but sexless pair of shoes that are good to garden in and easy to slip on when you're taking out the trash. Oh yeah, baby. 

So why keep trying when I felt so...blah inside? Because when the flirtation did work, when our eyes would connect across the room, that chemistry blast felt amazing. Raw and enlivening, attraction can pack the most deliciously pleasurable and life-affirming punch.

Also after decades on this planet, I've come to realize that its often a good sign when you feel stupid and vulnerable. It means shedding light in a darkened corner of your being. You're trying and its not always meant to be pretty. Like strengthening weak muscles, it’s supposed to hurt a little.

Last week, dressed and coifed just a little more than one really needs to be for breakfast, I fantasized about asking Maurice out. If I could just make a plan with him, maybe I could get to the sex, where I would really shine. (Flirtation might not be my forte, but I planned on getting real in bed. Seriously real.)

Just as I prepared to get up from my table and walk toward him, Maurice's girlfriend walked into the restaurant. I watched them kiss in that contented, casual way that happy couples do. My butterflies were replaced with indigestion.

As I walked home, I felt dejected and discouraged. But at the same time, strangely relieved. Now I could now flirt with him more easily, knowing it wouldn't amount to anything. He could be the training wheels on my bicycle ride back to sexiness. 

Self-esteem is a tricky bag. We're made to believe bullshit platitudes like "Its only when you love yourself that others can love you." But seriously, what the fuck is self-love? Does anyone ever really experience it, other than sanctimonious New Age types? 

Love by its very nature, implies a recipient. Like one hand clapping, self-love seems theoretically flawed. A nebulous concept that seems to do more damage than good.

Like many women, I don't often know my own power. I look at myself and know I'm not horrid to look at or anything. Yet I can't imagine repeating I-love-you into a mirror thinking it will make one lick of difference. I simply can't pretend to feel better about myself than I do.

And I'm learning to be okay with that. Not possessing something. Lacking in something. Why force self-esteem where it doesn't exist?

The best one I can currently hope for: occasional bouts of self-compassion and glimpses of self-acceptance as well as a growing awareness when self-hatred (an easier concept to grasp than self-love unfortunately) tightens it gnarly grip around my throat.

I continue to flirt with Maurice. And I still continue to bump into things around him. It's not always pretty, this process. But it feels necessary. The human spirit deserves to shine and attract, not hide and retract. If I trip over my own two feet getting there, I'm learning to be okay with that. 

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