A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Toronto discretely eavesdropping on a group of “older” friends as they were chatting about their lives. When I say older, I mean they were probably in their forties to sixties; at least, that was the discernible age range. There were about four or five men and a woman. From what I could tell, the woman was the youngest because she was the only one who only had a hint of grey in her hair. The men on the other hand all looked like they could double for mall Santas.
Anyway, as I was sitting there giving up all attempts to read John Irving’s In One Person (fantastic novel, by the way!!), I couldn’t help listening to the contents of their conversation. Well, they were sitting right next to me…and talking extremely loudly, I might add.
So the man sitting closest to me–he looked to be about in his mid-fifties, about my dad’s age–was bragging to his friends about how he was dating some young twenty-something year old blond with, as he put it, “a rack so phenomenal it puts all three of my ex-wives to shame”. I must admit, I chuckled a little to myself when I heard this. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I even noticed out of the corner of my eye, as I was still pretending to be reading, that he even glanced in my direction to see my reaction to his rather crude remark. Well, in all honesty, I thought it was pretty damn funny that a man that age was sitting there bragging to his friends about what seemed like the absolute perfect conquest. As the conversation carried on, the man continued talking about his “live-in twenty-something year old girlfriend” (he knew her precise age, of course, but it eludes me now). He said something along the lines of: “But you know, as much as the sex is AWESOME, she’s just not as emotionally mateur as I want my woman to be. But then again, I guess at that age, they’re only really good for one thing”–and here, he proceeded to wink in my general direction. Again, I pretended not to notice and that I was completely enthralled by my book. But, I was curious to see how his friends and/or colleagues would respond to this disgusting display of sexism.
You see, I could tell that this was no ordinary group of creepy horny old men and their Elaine (Seinfeld reference); these people, from what I gathered, were academics! They had stacks and stacks of books with them and they mentioned that a few of them were doing research at the University of Toronto, the downtown campus which was mere minutes away from this famous coffee shop franchise. Needless to say, I was a little taken aback by the reactions of this man’s friends/colleagues, but nonetheless intrigued as well. I always think it’s interesting when older people are progressive and openly disclose the details of their sex lives because, well, in my culture people just don’t discuss those things with their friends or anyone for that matter. In my culture, discussions of a sexual nature, to my knowledge, simply don’t exist or are reduced to meaningless or harmless jokes.
This man, however, was more candid about his sex life with his twenty-something year old girlfriend than necessary. I mean there were some details that he simply did not have to share. There was another young man sitting on the couch across from me and I could feel him cringe when he heard some of the things this man was saying. Poor guy. I would have suggested he move, but then my cover would be blown and besides, it was already noon at this point and you know how busy these famous coffee shops can get at that time of day when most people take their lunch or coffee breaks.
Anyway, as I was saying. This man just went into full blown detail about his sex life, his girlfriend’s appearance and, on numerous occasions, made a point to mention that he wasn’t exactly dating her for her intellectual capacities. A small part of me was amused by this, but an even larger and insurmountable part of me felt the strong urge to douse this man and his horny colleagues with my scalding hot caramel macchiato. Okay, so I was at Starbucks. I was just so awestruck at how these seemingly intelligent and progressive people could be so boldly and disgustingly inappropriate when talking about this woman, who from what I gathered was studying to be a marine biologist. From what I know, that is not an easy field to get into so I can’t imagine how these people were commenting that this girl is unintelligent. Either she was failing out of school or they were those elitist types of academics who think they’re better than everyone else. You know the type. At U of T, they’re a dime a dozen and they’re the reason why I despised socializing in university. Everybody thinks they’re so much damn better than you.
What shocked me most I guess was the fact that they all seemed to have met her at one point or another because they were agreeing with the man’s descriptions of her looks and equally bashing her intelligence. Basically, they were playing up the whole dumb blond, big breasted, great in the sack stereotype and telling their friend that he deserved much better than her because eventually her looks would fade. Ironically, none of them commented on the fact that their friend was a cradle robbing pervert, but they seemed to be perfectly accepting of that dynamic.
I guess the reason that I decided to regale this story was because I was just in such shock. I still can’t believe that people–especially of a certain generation that use young people are supposed to respect and admire–can be so utterly crude and sexist. What disgusted me most was that the woman, who was an academic as well, seemed to be going along with everything the men were saying. I mean, perhaps they were right about the so called blond bimbo. Maybe she wasn’t that smart and this man was just using her for her looks and her youth, but if you ask me that is not something that other highly intelligent women should condone. It’s hard enough knowing that men engage in that kind of locker room banter in public, but to hear a seemingly intelligent woman engaging in it with them, that was just horrifying. These people didn’t realize how entirely uneducated and ignorant they sounded to the people around them. Moral of the story: be careful about what you say or do in public places and how loudly you speak because even if you think other people aren’t eavesdropping are just minding their own business, they’re really listening to every word and judging the hell out of you.
DISCLOSURE: I actually wrote this post in around October 2013, but saved it in my drafts and forgot to publish it. I recently came across it again and decided to publish it.