I have been flirted with more in the past few weeks than my entire twenty-three years combined.
When I took a job as the librarian in a small town, my mom teasingly hinted that this would happen. “Word will get out, Amelia,” she laughed. “A young, cute, single librarian… they’ll be lining up to meet you.”
To my great surprise, she was right.
At least once a day, I’m treated to one of the following:
“I like your dress.”
“You’re a real sweetheart”
“You look really nice today.”
“Wow, your eyes really just drew me in.”
“Can I show you my new guitar?”
Usually, the comments come from older men–NEVER women. The dress compliment is the most common. The man who told me I have stunning eyes then proceeded to tell me how I remind him of his daughter who lives far away. Sometimes, though, they are younger. The guitar enthusiast was a teenage kid who had just picked up the instrument at the pawn shop next door. I let him show me his prize, but wouldn’t let him play it—too much noise would disturb the other patrons.
When men say these things to me, I smile, politely say thank you, and proceed with whatever I am working on–scanning their books, looking up their holds, or helping them with computer programs.
Honestly, all the little compliments make me a bit uncomfortable. Most of the men don’t intend to be creepy–they’re just being kind. For the most part, I don’t feel unsafe or violated. I’ve just never been on the receiving end of this kind of attention before.
I’m not sure how I feel about suddenly being noticed. Everywhere I have gone in life, there have always been girls who are prettier than me. I’m not unattractive, but when there are twiggy little blondes present (and the universe is full to the brim of them), curvy, bookish types like myself get overlooked. This has never really bothered me. My self esteem has never been tied to whether guys notice me. I’m holding out for the right fit–for the person who wants to be with me for more than looks alone. If this means not getting objectified to the extent of my super-skinny fellow females, so much the better. So it’s weird to suddenly be in this position.
Since staring my job, I HAVE been putting a great deal more into my physical appearance. For the first time in my life, I wear makeup every day–just a little eyeliner and mascara. I wear lots of dresses (product of frequenting thrift stores) and love book-themed necklaces and hair pins. When the weather gets cooler, I plan on pulling out my scarves and sweaters.
I put care into how I look each day, but not to get attention. This is my first real job and I want to look professional. I want to appear confident, poised, and ready. Also, after a summer doing fieldwork on the farm wearing grubby cut-offs and bro-tanks every day, I enjoy the chance to actually look nice.
I’m finding that dressing well in a tiny, rural community, however, has its drawbacks. It has made for some interesting conversations in my head. Perhaps this attention partially comes from being new. Maybe the it will fade once the patrons get used to me.
We shall see.