Good morning from the high school boys outside the gym

The morning is misting. Too tired to even cry. I carry an umbrella, but it doesn’t seem like I need one. There’s nothing solid hitting the ground. The air, however, is saturated. I can feel it through the cloth, through my clothes. I cross the street in front of a black speeding car. I’m carrying writing weight in the book bag on my shoulder. Warm pressure nests on my breast. And I rest my hand, rubbing around my bone and neck. Two boys stand outside an open door to their gym. They stare, smiling. “Hey!” one says. Crew cut, young face. His features criss-crossed by a chain-linked fence. “Hi,” I say, pretty sure what’s coming next. Wait, wait, wait as I’m walking. “You’re pretty,” he smiles very sure of himself.  And normally if this were a guy my age or older at a bar at the store in the parking lot interrupting, on the sidewalk at the movies at a restaurant a creeping gaze, words, eyes, want undressing me – I’d keep walking away, say a small don’t-bother-me phrase. But he’s cute and flattering and young and a boy and I’m feeling a little engaging today and maybe he’ll think about this later alone. Maybe he’ll make it into more, take my image home. And would I mind if he did? Would I mind a strange boy making my body do things I wouldn’t normally do?
“Oh, thank you.” I smile and keep walking along. The umbrella a curtain not quite hanging down. And I wait, wait, wait for what I know is coming next: “Do you have a boyfriend?” he asks. Ah, they all have to ask. I use my safe word and say, why, “Yes. I do.” And I think it will stop here with a gosh, gee, golly disappointed stare, but he asks “Do you want another one?” And I laugh and should have said, no one’s enough, but instead said the generic “I think I’m too old for you” bit. “But I’m 18!” he boasts like a badge, like a degree, like aged wine, like dog years. “Why how old are you?”
“I’m 28,” I lie. And keep walking, keep walking, past cars, past the gates, past his open door. I feel more sexy to be unavailable.
I hear him yell, “That’s not possible. You look 16.”
Oh boy you were doing so well. Now just stop talking.

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4 Responses to Good morning from the high school boys outside the gym

  1. Lindsey says:

    What the heck were you wearing?! I think I should borrow the outfit and then I can carry out my fantasy of being a divorcee cougar!

    • rachvb says:

      A skirt you ALREADY OWN. Anthro, wool clown one. And boots and a long sleeve brown tee but buttons down the front and a vest. It sounds very crazy when I write it all down. But it’s victorian as far as showing skin goes. Must have been my goofy, meg ryan, boy gait.

  2. Julia says:


    I must admit that I love these kinds of moments, inappropriate as they are. I had the weirdest conversation with a Chinese colleague today, who was saying how he couldn’t possibly even deign to talk to the girls he liked, much less ask them out. Which of course provoked me to blurt out, “hell, I’m ambiguously attracted to most people, so given that situation, I’d just go for it, and if it wasn’t great, I’d move on,” to which he gave me the longest, most confused stare.

    • rachvb says:

      Sometimes I like them, sometimes I hate them – especially with creepy old men, but yesterday I was willing to engage in some harmless flirtation with some high school boys. I will only be able to morally do that for a few more years and then I will become the creepy old man.
      I’d go for it too!!! It’s how I got my boyfriend. Some things you just gotta go for.
      Apparently they don’t do that in China?

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