I am not supposed to admit this.
I enjoy an admiring male stare, the rev of an engine as it passes by, an appreciative sideways glance.
In my conservative town, an admission such as this as a divorced forty-hm-year-old woman can be dangerous.
Because, at a certain age, you are supposed to be beyond caring about all of this.
My father, in his eighties–a good family man who drove family sedans and station wagons for far too many decades–bought a car with a spoiler. I do not think he ever reached a speed where the spoiler truly came into play but the point is–he still cared. He still had some of that dashing Air Force airman in him. He was not ashamed to admit it.
In the same way, a woman who is truly honest cares. We care about aging gracefully. But that does not mean we give up the sighs of our youth. Or at least, it shouldn’t.
Let’s break it down.
First, I am a mother of two children.
Second, I am divorced.
Third, I am middle-aged.
In some book I have yet to find, it is written that I am supposed to be somewhat asexual. A Mother Teresa who keeps herself in shape.
I am neither of the first two and working on the third.
Now the caveats. Caveats that are painfully necessary because I will probably be judged for my remarks by a variety of people. I’m guessing my European and Australian readers will be more understanding. But I think I may get hell for this from my more puritanical American counterparts.
I am a mother. I will never put a man ahead of my boys as they grow up. I am only just beginning to date in earnest again and my kids will not meet most of my suitors. Ever. I’m dating. They’re not. A solid foundation is what they need, not a mom who ignores them at dinner to text with her latest flame. Or that latest flame ogling her from across the dinner table. Any man that meets my sons because he is dating me will have to be rock solid and really special.
I am divorced. Despite the fears of misinformed married gals who are sure that means I now want their husband, I do not now see all men as sex objects. In particular, I don’t see your husband as a sex object. I didn’t want him when I was married and I sure don’t want him now that I’m divorced.
I prefer a single man with years on him, life experience and the wisdom that comes with that, to a younger beefcake. That tells you something about where my head is; it’s not chasing tail.
I am middle-aged. I am choosing what that means. I have decided it does not mean I’ll carry the extra 15 pounds I did in the last years of my marriage. That it means I still have the right to get fit, look fit, be fit. That while miniskirts left my wardrobe decades ago, if I can rock an above-the-knee dress, I will. Sans apology. The difference being that hopefully my conversation is more interesting than the last time I rocked such a dress. At least, it better be. I think I’ve earned that much.
These admissions are prompted by one tiny incident. Sometimes that is all it takes.
As I walked my dog the other day, a throaty muscle car came up behind us. As the male driver passed me, he revved the engine. I saw his head turn and stare. I could not see his face, his age or his expression but the rev was intentional. I was getting a compliment. He made that much obvious. No smarmy catcall. Just a little friendly vroom vroom.
Normally, I would not give something like this a second thought. I’m not even a fan of muscle cars. This time, though, I had just finished a tough barre workout–one of many over the past six months. My arms and shoulders were bare; my leggings on. My body is far from perfect but I’m at least chiseling out some lean muscle. I’m beginning to remember a shape I’ve not had in many years. And suddenly, someone was taking note besides me.
Every woman knows that feeling. Whether you consider yourself a three, a five, a seven or a nine on the 10-point beauty scale—or possibly are wise and secure enough not to care about that scale—it is an affirmation of your hard work when the shape of a leg or the cut of an arm garners attention. Even when that hard work has mainly been for health or for your own eyes only.
This was one of several little tidbits of appreciation from the male species that had happened that week. I don’t know why. I think the sun was at the exact right angle, multiple constellations had aligned and the earth had most probably tilted on its axis. Perhaps Armageddon is coming. I don’t really care.
I had been reminded what it felt like to be noticed simply as a healthy, attractive woman.
Ah, yes. Some of you are nodding. Remember that feeling? Maybe you never lost it. If so, consider yourself blessed.
And the best part? The sweet young thing walking across the street and a block ahead of me? She turned around to see what the noise was about. The driver sped on past her, with nary a backward glance.
She looked flummoxed.
I tried not to look smug. Score one for Everywoman vs. the I-have-not-eaten-a-carb-in-months camp.
Those of you who read my blog regularly know I’m very spiritual. I talk more about being a bodhisattva than anything else. I have my priorities straight.
But this zen warrior was thankful for the reminder this week that she is sometimes seen for more than her usual roles. I may not be Sofia Vergara but I am becoming a leaner, healthier, stronger version of me. That is attractive on anyone.
So yes, I am coming clean. It made my afternoon, or at least my hour.
Many of my female brethren may not admit it, but a little innocent vroom vroom goes a long way.