Thursday, February 20, 2003

Whatchoo lookin' at?

He was wearing a beige and tan plaid blazer, big enough to be a man's blazer, but with kind of that color scheme that looked like your auntie the retired schoolteacher would've worn it and thought it looked smart. He'd made it more punk rock by putting all those dog collar studs up and down both lapels, and he'd managed to find some orange Chuck Taylor sneaks, which were actually pretty damn cool. I was dubious about the jacket, but definitely jealous of the sneakers, and I was watching him and his friends laugh and make their way to the mall escalator. And then I realized what it was that they were laughing at. The one in the orange shoes, by far the alpha punk of the group, was laughing at ME. He kept stealing looks back over his shoulder, making eye contact, and then his group would erupt in a new round of guffaws.

Of course, a fist-sized wallop of "lo-so" hit me in the face at that moment, and I felt embarrassed and hurt and angry all at once. ("Lo-so" being low self-esteem, according to my boyfriend J) How could this teenager, whose shoes I was just admiring, be making comments about me to his friends, and they were all laughing meanly, well within ear-and eye-shot. And more importantly, why the hell did it bother me so? I had taken two seconds of sizing up his sartorial style and translated it instantly into a generalization that this was a person who I'd be interested in meeting, only to find just as quickly that I was an object of sport to him and his friends, and I had the bizarre reaction of feeling betrayed by this complete stranger. Wearing dog collar studs on his auntie's blazer, no less.

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