Sunday, April 13, 2003

Only about one in fifteen moms are "hot."

I received some joyful news today. Some ego-boosting, click-your-heels worthy, throw-your-hands-in-the-air-and-wave-‘em-like-you-just-don’t-care news. The news came while I was working at my job, cashiering at the salvage grocery store where I work a few days a week.
Apparently, 15 year-old boys think I’m HOT.
I have this information on good authority. From one of the 15 year-old sources himself.
I mean, holy crap. Do you think this information did not put me over the freaking moon? Well, it did. And then some. I mean, talk about an instant beauty treatment better than any (not that I need, or would ever consider getting a) facelift. Or deep-pore cleansing or French manicure or Brazilian wax.

Repeating this just for the chance to crow about it, because, really, how often does this happen to you? (and if the answer is “often” then hats off to you and congratulations. You bitch. Just kidding.) It’s just that, considering that the standard icons of female hotness to a 15 year-old boy, in my mind, are Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and other teen hotties whose names I don’t even know. I certainly don’t resemble any of them (and thank goodness), not even close.

Today was my first time working alone without J., the other cashier. Just me and D., my 15 year-old stockboy bagboy carry-the-boxes-out-to-the-car helper. Because the store is only open 2 days a week, Fridays and Saturdays, Friday mornings are insane there. People line up outside the door just for the chance to get in and be the first to snag all the dollar boxes of cereal and cheap paper products we carry, like diapers. The afternoon, in contrast, is slow and mellow. Sometimes steady, but often with generous lags between sales. D. and I were shooting the shit today during these times. Him, regaling me with tales of his friend who snorted Pixy Stix. And then saying how it would be funny to take some strawberry Kool-Aid drink mix and put some lines of it on the conveyor belt there at the cash register and snort it like coke. (These nutty kids! I tell you. What will they think of next?) And I would say, with a world-weary grin and back-and-forth shake of the head, “Oh, D. You are so WILD.”

I can’t help but encourage him a little. He’s such a smart kid, and he’s so all over the place. Full of that famous hormonal energy produced by puberty. You know. We all remember it, don’t we? Sort of constantly crazed, everything you’re feeling just bubbling up to the surface at all times. Unless you’re feeling sullen, and then you bury all your feelings under a bitter crust. (Wait a minute. I STILL do that.)

So, how did I find out that D. - and also B., another young coworker - think I am so hot? In the course of conversation, I don’t quite remember how we got there, D. wants to know how old I am. Before I can answer, he says, “I know, I know that’s like, a REALLY rude question and you’re not, like, supposed to ask women that and everything. So how old ARE you?” I am standing in the juice aisle, facing out the dented cans of coffee, and he is sitting at my chair at the register. (The reason being that he had ‘stolen’ my chair and when I told him I wanted it back, he replied, “Okay, but only if you sit on my lap.” And I said that I didn’t think so and I was going to go and face drinks.) I laugh and say “Okay. Just because it’s you asking, I’ll tell you. I’m 35.”

Well, apparently this news has just rocked his little high school world. And he lets loose with a barrage of excited responses, unable to let up, I guess because he is just so flat-out in disbelief. This includes the following loudly proclaimed statements:

“You’re old enough to be my MOM!”
“You would be like, a totally HOT mom!”
“It’s hard to come by a hot mom.” (moms out there??? how do you like that!)
“Only about, one in 15 moms are hot.” (pretty specific stat....has he done fieldwork in this area?)
“I can’t believe you’re 35!!!” said SEVERAL times. “I thought you were like, 26.”
“You would get hit on by SO many college guys.” (hey. where the hell were all these guys back when I was actually IN college???)
“You came and started working at the store, and I was like, ‘hey! cute college girl!!!’“
“Wait until B. finds out how OLD you are!!” (the other 15 year-old Christian home-schooled high school kid with whom I work. And, emphasis on OLD with a capital “O.”)

D. is cute and slight-bodied and constantly moving and talking and has pimples on his face and is just, so, young young young. I forgot what it was like to be so young. And now, I’m thinking about it and remembering. Remembering the pain and the excruciating happiness. The first flush of romance that stains your cheeks. The sting of rejection. The feeling that the eyes of the world, all those you come in contact with, friends/neighbors/teachers/clergymen/the cashier at the grocery store -- are all upon you. Watching your every move. Passing judgement on you and waiting for you to fuck up. And remembering the feeling of wanting, and the feeling of promise and the knowing that your whole life is ahead of you.

D. is up at the register saying, “I can’t even IMAGINE being 35. 35 is really, really old.”
“Thanks!!” I say back. Next, offering, “ know, Sheryl Crow says that 40 is the new 20,”. Thinking Sheryl Crow is a pop culture reference that he’ll recognize, and that she’s pretty hot herself, and that maybe this will open his mind up a little, knowing that such a hot rock star babe as herself is over 40 and does she seem old?
“I don’t really like Sheryl Crow,” he says.
“Okay,” I want to say. “How about...Mrs. Robinson, then?” But I don’t. I don’t want to take things in that particular direction, and I doubt he’s ever seen the Graduate, anyway.

We spend the rest of the afternoon with D. basically nonstop almost chanting a mantra, “You are so hot. You are so hot. You are so....old. But you are so hot.” Well, hell, I’m not going to argue with the boy. I don’t mind being called old by a lusting young teenager, you know? Considering I only get paid 6 dollars an hour to work at this place, it’s a blessing to have a coworker who dotes on you like a love-starved puppy. Makes the time go by faster, really.

And I do like these kids. D. and B. I feel happy being around them. I like that jagged energy they give off. Sometimes I am filled with this urge to go up to one or the other of them and take their young faces between my hands. And say, looking directly into their eager eyes, “Look. When you finish high school, I want you to do something for me. I want you to pack your bags and leave this town. Go wherever you want. Even if it’s just to...Madison. Go to school. Go to work. Pick one of your dreams and follow it. Get out of this small town. Put yourself out there in the world and let the world see what you can do. Figure out how you can make things better, make yourself happy, see what that will take. Do it all and don’t come back here until you do.”

I guess I love boys because I don’t understand them. I never had brothers. I never got to date any 15 year-old boys....because I wasn’t allowed to. Which is a story (and the central drama of my life? perhaps. one of them) for another post. I went to an all-girls’ Catholic high school and lived a sheltered, over-protected life. Boys fascinated me. Maybe that’s why I’m such a big flirt today. I’m thinking now, though, I’m suddenly aware of what a huge influence I could have over these 2 kids’ lives. As the, you know, hot-woman-we-work-with-who’s-old-enough-to-be-our-mom. That influence strikes me as a rather grave responsibility. And I want it to be a good one.

“Hey, D.” I say, still straightening out the coffee cans. “How old are you?”
“Freshman,” comes the reply.
I stop and turn towards him. “NO.” Widening my eyes in mock surprise. “You are not. Get out.”
“Yeah, really,” he says.
“Well, when I first met you I was sure you were a sophomore, or even a junior,” I say. He is so thrown I can almost see waves bouncing off his body.
“You DID. Awwwwwww, man, that is SO COOL!” he says and goes on about it for about another 5 minutes.
“Yeah,” I say, "I was really fooled." And turn back to the shelves. A warm feeling spreading all over me.
I think I love this kid.
[cross-posted at cocokat in slumberland.]

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