A couple of months ago I was in the throes of a personal bread-making craze which has since spent itself, partly because the bread I made wasn’t very good. (I really need to get some pointers from those domestic goddesses over at FMH.) One bread-baking afternoon I took my wedding ring off to knead the dough, and I neglected to put it on again before attending a church meeting that evening.
Most of the people at the meeting were in my ward and of course know I’m married, but there were also people from other wards I didn’t know well, including one young man who was at least ten years my junior and evidently single. I found myself walking out of the meeting at the same time he was, and so just to make conversation, I turned to him and started mouthing polite inanities about the weather. (I’m not very good at small talk, and I don’t think well on my feet, but I did want to be friendly.) This young man, who had seemed perfectly nice in the meeting, looked back at me in a terror so evident one would have thought I had rent my clothing and flashed him. He didn’t say a word in response to my pleasantries. He didn’t even say good-bye. He all but ran for the safety of his car.
I went home and contemplated supergluing my wedding ring to my finger.
Now, I don’t think I have an inflated sense of my own physical attractiveness. I’m chubby, I don’t always get around to dying my gray hair, I rarely bother with makeup, and my sense of fashion leans heavily toward the comfort of T-shirts and jeans. And while I couldn’t begin to claim a peaceful relationship with my body, I also find it an unspeakable relief to be sliding into middle age and away from the anorexic beauty wars. I gleefully anticipate being a fat wrinkly old woman in an ugly purple polyester pantsuit speaking my cantankerous mind in Relief Society.
So I wasn’t exactly startled that this young man didn’t respond to what he clearly perceived as my romantic overture. But I was startled–amazed!–that he thought I was making a romantic overture. I mean, really, talk about the weather? I haven’t been single since 1996, so I’m way, way out of practice at what constitutes flirting, but one of the things I remember liking about the singles’ ward where I met my husband was that I could talk to a male member of the ward without his concluding that I was hitting on him and without the entire ward gossiping about it. (Was my ward unusual in that respect, I wonder now?)
I guess I’ve really taken for granted the social freedom accorded me by my wedding ring. I can’t begin to express how much I love being off the market, unavailable, out of consideration. (I’m currently thinking that if my husband predeceases me I’ll just invest in a few nun costumes, for Sunday and daily wear.) Being visibly married makes all of my social interactions with men so easy, so casual, so comfortable. I evidently hadn’t realize just how easy, casual, and comfortable.
What have your experiences been with romantic overtures made, not made, understood and misunderstood?