The other day, I discovered that yet another classmate was on Facebook and I beFriended him. And lo, seeing that he had photos, I clicked on them with abandon. And to my great surprise, I saw more of my classmate that I had ever seen before, i.e. his gleaming hairless chest. Glued to this arresting sight, my eyes became unstuck only with great difficulty and the recollection that he is now, ahem, consecrated.
To return to the subject of chastity lectures, we all know that men are visual and women are emotional, so women should be careful what they wear and men should.. um... er... Open doors? Be "gentlemen"? Assume that a woman is upset only because it is "that time of the month" and she is hormonal? (Don't, for the love of Mike, EVER do that, boys!) Oh, let's face it. Boys STILL get a pass at chastity lectures because we all want to believe that Nice Catholic Girls are magically non-sexual, and that 12 year olds read Tiger Beat for the articles.
The reality of female life is that most of us are sexually attracted to at least a few males, beginning around the age 12, if not earlier. My first crush object was Speedy Gonzales, the Mexican cartoon mouse, with whom I was smitten at the tender age of five. I think I enjoyed his effervescent personality--one shared by my husband Benedict Ambrose I have just this second realized. (Page Melanie Klein!) Then I had a crush (at seven) on Speedy Gonzales-sized eight year old with long, beautiful eyelashes. Later (like at 12) I got crushes on boys because of facial bone structure. The eureka moment where bare manly chests and flat manly tummies began to put me at risk of whiplash has been lost to history, but I am certainly at risk today.
My mother would not let me purchase Tiger Beat or its competitors, but I did not mind being consulted by friends on the relative merits of Scott Baio and C. Thomas Howell. John Stamos was a big deal when I was 12, as were Duran Duran, Boy George and Michael Jackson. It seems very odd today that the mascara-ed Simon LeBon, the transvestite Boy George and the, well, Michael Jackson made 12 year old female hearts flutter, but they did. My own personal idols were HRH the Prince Edward, who was then only 19 years old, and Sebastian Flyte, whom I imagined to be blonde, blue-eyed and as beautiful as the morning star. I had no idea Lord Sebastian had SSA, or if I did, I thought it was just a teenage boy thing that he would grow out of, etc.
This, of course, is a rather privileged look backstage at the female psyche. Nice Catholic Girls do not generally admit that their maidenly or matronly exteriors hide hearts and lungs and veins seething with animal passions. This is because we know better. None of us wants to be Big Ethel, skinny and snaggle-toothed and drooling over Jughead Jones. None of wants to scare the living daylights out of Nice Catholic Boys determined to be chaste. And none of us wants to attract the attention of rapists and other scum. Better to be as taciturn as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park: my favourite moment in Jane Campion's cinema version is when Edmund (in love with Another) falls asleep on his besmitten cousin Fanny's shoulder, and Fanny rolls her eyes towards heaven, as if to say, "Oh great, God. Thanks. As if I weren't suffering enough already." Meanwhile, I probably would not be telling you all this stuff if I weren't safely married.
As an unmarried woman in my 30s, surrounded by cute men, "Don't touch the hottie" was my personal mantra and possible salvation. As 20-something seminarians unsure in their vocations batted their eyelashes at me, I inwardly chanted "Don't touch the hottie!" for years. When I first met B.A., I inwardly chanted "Don't touch the hottie!" for a whole ten days until, finally, he seized me in his McAmbrosely arms.
Anyway, I mention all this scary sexual stuff because Nice Catholic Boys, unlike Nice Muslim Boys, think nothing of taking their shirts off and running glistening around fields after footballs, and they have no idea of what effect that might be having on Nice Catholic Girls nearby.
"Oh," comes the masculine grunt. "if it's that big of a deal, maybe you shouldn't be looking."
"You're right," I say. "Never mind this whole brother's keeper stuff. I'll go resurrect that halter top of mine, the one shaped like a butterfly. I've never worn it before, I don't know why I have it, but---Why not? If it's that big of a deal, maybe you shouldn't be looking."