It occurred to me the other day – after a recent string of closely-timed events related to men that I don’t know – that I am no longer in my 20s.
And everyone has taken notice.
Yeah, once I hit 30 I knew I’d get more lectures about calcium from my doctor. I knew I’d get carded less often. I was even prepared when I discovered a laugh wrinkle that doesn’t go away anymore. But, you guys: getting hit on in your 30s is a much different experience than it is in your 20s. And by different experience, I mean: it just doesn’t happen anymore.
When I was living that early- to mid-20s lifestyle, things like THIS happened to me…
THAT LEGAL STATUS LOOKS SEXY ON YOU, GIRL
One afternoon in 2009, I was home from college on Christmas break. Since I had so much damn free time, I headed over to the local library to kill time in another setting that wasn’t my sofa – because I didn’t know what else to do with myself if I wasn’t studying or complaining about my roommate to one of the other girls on my hall (“I mean she literally left her dirty shirt on the floor again. Having a roommate is so difficult.”).
While perusing a shelf of fiction books and trying to decide which one I would keep on my bedside table unopened for the remaining three weeks of my holiday break, a man approached me.
“Hi, sorry to bother you.”
Wut. Who talks to strangers at the library.
“I just saw you from across the room…”
Who, me?! I’m not even wearing makeup! You saw ME from across the room? It must be this sexy college girl pheromone I’m putting off!
“Um, but I was wondering, are you 18?”
“Oh, okay good. Anyway, I just think you’re so incredibly beautiful. Do you think I could get your number?”
Are you on probation for something?
I pulled the “sorry I have a boyfriend” line (you’re allowed to lie to strangers once you turn 18), and he nodded understandingly and wandered away – likely to go chat up another young lady.
But hopefully not too young.
And then things like this used to happen to me…
I GOTTA MARRY THOSE EYES
The summer after college, my best friend and I went to stay with my uncle in Manhattan for a week. One morning we were walking down the sidewalk through the throngs of New Yorkers (very hungover if I’m remembering correctly) (this detail is not important to the story, but the pain of it is burned into my memory) when we walked past a rapper trying to promote his newest album.
In the middle of his sidewalk sales pitch, he shouted at me, “Damn girl those are some nice eyes” (I used to wear green colored contacts) (this detail is important to the story).
Me (knowing the answer): “Oh, are you talking to me?”
Him (SWOONING UNCONTROLLABLY): “You know it. I’ve never seen eyes like that. I’d marry you in a heartbeat.”
Me (still maybe a little drunk from the night before): “I don’t accept marriage proposals unless they’re done on one knee.”
So that’s how this gentleman ended up down on one knee begging for my hand in marriage on a Wednesday morning in Manhattan.
Even though I accepted, I’ve since stopped wearing colored contacts so it’s probably for the best that he never followed through.
But that’s not the only time I’ve been proposed to by a stranger.
HEY BABY, YOU TRYNA GIMMA YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS?
One evening towards the end of my year living in Australia, I was on my way home from the movies. I was waiting outside the train station for my bus, when a man approached me asking for the time.
I remember him smoking a cigarette and wearing a bacon-collared, off-white wife-beater that was definitely white when he purchased it. He had a vicious and very intentional mullet, and his accent, as I learned from being there for almost a year, was what the locals called “Australian redneck.”
When he noticed my accent (okay, lack of accent), he asked where I was from and we started chatting from there. Even when the bus arrived, we continued our conversation after boarding and he proceeded to tell me about what it’s like to live in his mom’s basement as a 45-year-old, and the difficulties of a four-hour work week.
In an effort to avoid the next looming conversation topic of “would I like to get a drink sometime,” I told him that I was getting ready to head back to America because of my soon-to-be-expired visa.
He looked upset at first, but then he asked for my number so that we could stay in touch. I explained that I no longer had a phone since I was about to leave the country. So he asked if he could have my email address, to which I explained I didn’t have one because those don’t exist in America.
Great quick thinking, Rachel.
Then, a light bulb appeared in his eyes and he told me that, as a legal resident of Australia, all I had to do was marry him and I could stay, and would I be interested in that?
I laughed uncomfortably (I think if I had forced him to do the bended knee thing, he would have taken me too seriously) and tried to change the subject.
I then said that, if fate were on our side, we’d meet again, and then coincidentally my bus stop arrived. Or maybe I got off a few stops early and just walked, I can’t remember.
All of these stories are delightful and funny and mildly flattering, but like I said, things change when you hit your thirties. I don’t just mean you really have to work harder to avoid a hangover or anytime you wear leggings in public people ask if you have children.
You also hear “ma’am” a lot more and get way fewer marriage proposals from strangers.
SWEET LIKE SORBET
A few weeks ago, I was heading to Kroger to pick up some groceries. I was in the middle of parking my bike when a man approached me.
Oh, here we go.
“Excuse me, ma’am.”
Ugh, what is it? You think I’m beautiful? You think I have nice tits? You want to know if I have a boyfriend and if not can you have my number? Go ahead, get on with it.
“Do you know what sorbet is?”
Oh, this is a new one! You men sure are getting creative. Do I know what sorbet is? Yes, it’s a sweet summertime treat. Oh, just like me? Oh, you. You stop it! I’m going to pretend to not be flattered!
“Yeah, it’s like ice cream, but without the dairy.”
“Yeah, without the dairy. That’s what I thought.”
“More like a sherbet, right?”
“Okay, well thank you, ma’am. You have a nice day.”
And then he walked into Kroger.
HEY GIRL, WHERE’D YOU GET DAT LAPTOP SCREEN?
Last weekend, I was sitting at Lift on my laptop getting some work done when a man came up to my table.
Oh, here we go. You noticed me from across the room. You’re sorry if I noticed you staring. Am I tired, because I’ve been running through your mind all day. Go ahead, say your thing.
“What kind of laptop is that?”
Uh…because I’m progressive like my technology? Did I…turn you on like I turned on my laptop earlier? Something about Steve Jobs? I’m not quite sure where you’re going to go with this.
“Um…it’s a MacBook Air?”
“Oh, that’s what I thought.”
“The screen is just really nice. It’s so clear.”
Yeah, um…it’s pretty much exactly like all the ones I’ve ever used from what I can tell.
Then he said something about how it would be nice to use with a certain computer game, but I have never heard of it so I forgot it immediately.
And then he left.
JUST LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY! GOD!
Then this past Saturday, I was out to lunch with a friend when a man approached me.
I just can’t get a break!
“Hey, how are you,” he said to me.
Well, I mean for goodness sakes, I’m with another guy! Who could be my boyfriend for all you know! That’s very forward of you! But, you know, I guess I have to hand it to you: bonus points for courage. You don’t see a lot of that these days.
“I can go ahead and take your order if you’re ready.”