Did y'all see last month's cover of Vanity Fair? The one with Sofia Vergara looking sultry and lovely in full gloss? I didn't think anything of it other than, "She is a beautiful woman and really has quite a bosom. What articles are inside?"
The boys, however, were completely agog and long ago spirited the magazine away. Whose room it's now in, I don't know, but before I let them take her for good, we had a very serious talk about appreciating beauty respectfully.
I want the boys to feel at ease with their bodies and comfortable with their sexuality when it emerges. I don't ever want them to feel that sex and sexuality are taboo subjects about which they cannot ask or speak. Nor do I want them to be leering clods when it comes to their behavior around people they find attractive.
Jack was the first I saw peeking, and when I said, "Hey buddy, what'cha doin?" he blushed to beat sixty.
"Oh, nothing, Mom." I saw him try to hide Sofia under a newspaper.
"Buddy, she's pretty isn't she?"
"Oh, gosh, Mom, YES!" and then in a whisper, "Her boobs are big and nice." or something to that eight-year-old effect.
"Your curiosity is totally normal, honey. You are welcome to look, but I want you to always look and speak with respect. Saying someone is beautiful is a compliment. Talking about someone's boobs is not respectful. If you would like to appreciate her breasts, say breasts."
"Ok, Mom." and then he ran off to probably die of embarrassment in his room.
Later, I found Oliver on the floor of his room, poring over Sofia's spread.
"Hey Ol, what'cha doing?"
"Mom, look at vis lady!" He blushed too.
"Ol, you are welcome to look but you must do so with respect." and I repeated my earlier conversation.
They totally seemed to understand, and I have not heard the word 'boobs' in discussion about Sofia since.
I also haven't thought much about those talks again. Until today.
Hungry for nothing I had at home, I decided to kill two birds, so to speak, and take Percy for a walk to Pain Quotidien to buy myself a sandwich. The Spring Valley Pain Quotidien is inexplicably glacial on the best of days, and it was immediately clear today was not one of them. After several minutes of no one even greeting me, I left and headed across the street to the Wagshal's deli.
As I tied Percy's leash to the garbage can outside the door, I heard some guy say, "Oh, I love pugs" while noisily eating a sandwich. I looked up and said, "So you're OK with me leaving him here?" He asked me to move Percy closer to him.
People fall in love with Percy ALL the time, so this didn't make me think twice. As Oliver told my mom, "Percy makes fwiends all over ve place." which I think is both adorable and true.
Anyway, sandwich guy gets up and comes around to where I'm fumbling with Percy's leash, and says, "Pugs are one of my favorite things. Another is cute girls in tight blue jean shorts. You've brought me both."
People, a fire in my gut lit like I'd just done a keg-stand of diesel. Mother effer! I immediately untied Percy, looked at the oaf and said, "I don't need this." with such a look of disgust. Surely my eyes threw up a little bit, and surely it landed on his shoes.
I heard him say something like, "Oh, just leave him with me. Come on..." as I walked away but I repeated loudly, "I don't need this." and dragged Percy home.
That tacky jackass saved me some lunch money and completely reinforced my decision to let the kids look at Sofia but to first teach them to speak of her beauty and physique only with respect. Why does any man think a comment like the one I just heard would make me feel good? It made me feel pissed. And it made me think he's a giant douchebag that I want to get away from.
There are perfectly lovely ways to pay someone, even a stranger, a compliment. And then there are catcalls. And the two couldn't be more different.