A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I'm often ignored by men when I go out, perhaps because I'm a bit intimidating. It was hard for me to understand, even fully aware of my Amazonian brashness.
The last couple of weeks, I've had some really profound experiences, where I fell back on my grown-ass-womanness and went out, either by myself or with the girls. It turned out that not all men (or women) were so quick to ignore me.
It started with a weekend of intense (if private) exploration of the kind I love the most, where I'm able to really delve into whatever has attracted me and seek that deep understanding I so love. I went out by myself and found that not only was I capable of doing it, I was readily able to find enjoyment in that selfness. I was utterly in control of my head, my heart, my body, and my choices—and I was quite content in that.
The girls—Hot Pocket, Growler, and Boogie Shoes—came into town this past weekend for what we cheekily named Stripper Weekend.
Originally, we'd planned to strip wallpaper at my house—with steamers, scrapers, scorers, and the like—though Hot Pocket jokingly suggested we hire some hot, male strippers (or Cupid37) to do it while we watched. We also talked of going to the Clermont Lounge for disco funk dancing on Saturday night.
In the end, we saw no actual strippers, though we did get to see a shirtless guy while another guy took his shoe off just for us. (That was Yahtzee, who was very sweet and brave to play along with the crazy of the inner circle.) We also laughed and squealed and danced our damn asses off all weekend. We never stripped a piece of wallpaper, nor did we get to the Clermont. We did, however, hit Metalsome Live Metal Karaoke, The Basement Theatre, and Johnny's Hideaway.
I was by no means the only one, but I got a lot of attention this weekend. Really, almost more than I could stand. Men and women looked, smiled, talked, asked me to dance or meet their friend, and asked if they could come home with me. (Don't stare. Flash the dimple. Hi, I'm Stephanie. Dance again already? No, thank you, I'm with my girls. No, you may not.) I got lots of sweet and not-so-subtle compliments, which also meant I gave out my plastic surgeon's name to about a dozen women.
I even had the never-before-happened experience of a guy picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder, all caveman style. He's a 30-year-old personal trainer, who I promptly named Cavey, Jr., after Captain Caveman's son.
I didn't even let DH carry me across the threshold when we got married, because I was so self-conscious about my body and my weight. Even now, after the weight loss and the surgeries, I am no small thing. No man has EVER picked me up.
Cavey, Jr. was sweet and adorable and very, very cute. He stayed with our loud, bawdy group all night, even though he knew I had no intention of taking him home. He asked me repeatedly how I got to be so adorable. He sang while he danced with me on the crowded floor, all Johnny and Baby style.
Between the mirrors in the clubs and the pictures on my friends' phones, I could see what other people see. I could see how my hair and face and body come together now, reflected back in someone else's eyes. I could really see how my body moved, with its new, flat stomach and surgically-enhanced breasts and the long, strong legs so often encased in the boots I bought myself when I lost 100 pounds.
I was told many times that I was pretty or hot or beautiful or sexy. What I could finally understand from an outside perspective, though, was the strength and the confidence in how and where and when it all moved, even when I klutzily elbowed a guy in the jaw or tripped over my own huge feet. (I can't even begin to explain how I accidentally kicked a guy in the side of the head.) It didn't matter that I utterly sucked at karaoke—I totally owned what I was doing.
Maybe that is what's both intriguing and intimidating to others, my ability to be me—fearlessly and unapologetically and openly. I know where I've been and where I am now, with no real idea of where I'm going. I know who I was and who I am now, and I know who I will continue to strive to be, understanding that it could shift and change as the circumstances of my life unfold.
In every single mirror and photograph, what I saw looking back every single time was simply Stephanie.
Now I get it.