However far we’ve come as a society (sometimes I think it’s leaps and bounds, other times I turn into a Greek Chorus of one*) there are some really stupid things that we get hung-up on. One I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the creepy adult. I’m probably super-sensitive to it, because I worry a lot that I am one -- a creepy adult, I mean.
I’m a nearly 31-year-old woman. I live with my roommate, cats, and a dog. I have a Batman poster on my wall. I wear oversized glasses and am socially graceless. I am unmarried, childless, promiscuous, and admittedly not the greatest influence on children if we were all, like, just hanging out. I make terrible decisions regarding the food I eat, I work too much, and I am a giant, living, breathing swear-word. I have gone months without washing my sheets, and I regularly ignore my own personal hygiene in favor of watching hours of streaming television with deliciously explicit sex scenes.
But, because I’m a girl, mostly this is overlooked by parents. They let their kids hang around me. I have been known to babysit. I am a fun babysitter, in fact. This isn’t the case for a lot of dudes I know. Sure, there are plenty of male babysitters, but I don’t think I’m rocking any planets here when I say that 30-year-old dudes living with cats and Batman posters on their walls and dirty underwear don’t get asked to babysit a lot. It just doesn’t happen as often as it does with ladies. Because the dudes, they are creepy adults. For the most part, ladies get a pass. Frankly, I think having the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons babysit you might be equally creepy to me babysitting.
Kids today are taught not to speak to strangers (this was also the case in the ’80s and ’90s, which is why I walked around convinced every adult over 18 wanted to rape me, stuff my face with acid candies, and then make me live in their basement). I know this is tried and true parenting strategy, and I respect that.
But it doesn’t keep me from making small-talk with kids in line at Starbucks. “I like your shirt,” I’ll say to some 10-year-old who probably does not know who Gwar is. He turns bright red and looks away. His mom chuckles, “He’s shy,” she says. She has decided that because I have a vagina I am not a creepy weirdo. I appreciate that she isn’t macing me for talking to her kid. It’s nice not to be maced.
But I do, every so often, feel bad for the day-to-day lives of folks who are just like me -- except they’re men. Normally I can let it go because, you know, life is infinitely easier for them in a variety of other ways and almost every single piece of hate-mail I get is from a dude.
But what can I say, I am a softie. It’s got to suck worrying everyone thinks you’re a pedophile all the time. Here are five things I do that a dude my age can’t do without looking creepy.
1. Sitting At The Park Without a Book
Might as well be wearing a trench-coat and dark glasses and furiously masturbating while staring at a jungle gym. Me? I’m just a woman approaching middle-age who's decided to take in some vitamin D while thinking about my lost youth and unfertilized eggs.
2. Going To The Movies Alone
See above re, coat, glasses, masturbation. A woman at the movies alone is “being brave,” and “trying new things.” I saw Australia alone in the theatre on a whim.** I brought my groceries with me. I began quietly eating all of the perishable items and crying because I would never have a love as epic as the one between Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.
3. Crying At A Bar
A woman cries at a bar and she is guaranteed a free drink, a kind soul calling her a taxi, or eleven hundred folks trying to get in her pants. A guy crying alone at the bar? That is a sad drunk. I guarantee you not one lady is going to sidle up to him and offer her breasts for him to cry on. Though maybe I should start.
4. Making Small Talk With a Child Or Animal
We’ve established that you can do this while being female. If you are male and you’re petting a small dog or child, you are one step away from putting on lipstick and sending some lotion down in a basket.
5. Walking Hand In Hand With A Much Younger Woman
Man does it? Pervert. I have a fling with a dude nearly a decade my junior, and I’m "flipping the paradigm," not being a dirty old woman with commitment issues.***
* This means that I go around wailing on too-tall shoes, ‘O! What a time! O! What a civilization’ - presumably I then sacrifice a goat, screw several strangers, and drink wine to excess. That is from history, y’all, trust.
*** Get it, me.