Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Artist and His Muse

For the past few years, Daughter-Only has worked in a variety of retail businesses in our small town, managing to amass an alarming number of stories of inappropriate innuendo and outright harassing comments and requests from customers as well as from some of her fellow employees. Some of these things, coming as they did from her superiors (at a job she no longer holds) were legally actionable, or damned close.

Mostly though, they were misguided, socially awkward attempts to strike up a friendship or relationship or, um, let's say "relations" with Daughter-Only. One thing these types of commenters seemed to have in common was an utter lack of awareness about how their interest and the way they chose to express it might actually be perceived by Daughter-Only and those around her as more icky than intriguing, more frightening than flattering.

Currently, Daughter-Only (who will be 20 in June) works at a cafĂ© in an "arts center" that has studio space for various artists in its basement. She reported to me this week that one of the "artists from the basement" approached her and said, "I don't want to come across as a creepy middle-aged man, but I wanted to let you know that I am working on a sculpture of your face." He then went on to rave about her striking bone structure and to explain that he may be staring at her more than usual in the coming weeks--you know, for artistic purposes. All the while, Daughter-Only struggled to maintain her professional composure.

Now, perhaps--perhaps!--this middle-aged man has a purely artistic interest in my daughter. Perhaps--perhaps!--this man is not just a(nother) creepy middle-aged man expressing an inappropriate interest in my daughter.

But perhaps--perhaps!--this middle-aged man may want to come up with a better opening line, because there's no way that anything that begins with the line, "I don't want to come across as a creepy middle-aged man..." is going to be anything but creepy.

Q is for Qualms


  1. Yup, that's creepy, but at least he knows it and you can't help but feel sorry for some middle aged blokes, who must know they appear creepy but are unable to fix that and still want to connect with other human beings

    1. You've actually touched on something that has been a topic of much debate around our house since this incident occurred. Does knowing that something you're about to say may be perceived as creepy and then saying it anyway make it more or less creepy than having no idea how creepy you actually are? Does acknowledging the potential for at least the perception of creepiness make things better or worse?

      But also, and more seriously, Hubby was talking about how the truly creepy guys have ruined it for the non-creepy guys and we suddenly find ourselves in a world where you cannot compliment people (particularly their appearance) without being suspected of creepy behavior/intentions. Obviously, announcing your alleged non-creepiness might not be the most effective way to go so how do you avoid being perceived as creepy when your intentions are pure?

  2. Apparently your daughter has had enough experience with these guys so that she is immediately able to recognize their creepiness.
    I also know she is wise enough to not accept an invitation to the basement to “see his etchings.”

    1. She is wise indeed--and the etchings thing made me laugh and wince all at the same time since she actually WAS invited up to a photographer's studio several months ago--to see his "set up." Said photographer was not only older than her father, but nearly as old as her grandfather. I would've thought it really was just an innocent thing were it not for the increasingly insistent messages she received when she failed to accept the invitation. Having a teenage daughter has shaken my faith in civilization somewhat, I have to say.

  3. Little Sister4/23/14, 8:26 PM

    Probably doesn't help that said small town is a melting pot of middle-aged creeping creepers in various stages of development. Having two post-teen daughters of my own I must say that the "what I want to see" factor is allowing me to believe that this is NOT an accurate representation of the REST of civilization but simply a preparatory phase to empower these young women to recognize the creepy factor at a glance and steer clear of it in an effective and concise manner with no room for wishy-washy sympathy which might land them in a world of trouble had they not had this crash course in creeping-creeper coefficients within the context of this small, potentially protective within the limits of its inherent nosiness, community.