If you remember, Naomi is a married woman with two sons and two daughters-in-law. Her husband dies and her sons die, and she tells her daughters-in-law to leave her and go back to their kinsmen back home. (In short, "Save yourselves!") One takes her advice, but Ruth stubbornly sticks with her, which seems to have been truly heroic. Instead of fleeing to the protection of her own family, Ruth adds her small strength to that of Naomi and goes out to work on her behalf.
Working in the fields seems to have been dangerous for women, who were in constant danger of sexual assault, and the owner of the field where Ruth gleans away gives special orders that she not be harassed and even that grain from the official harvest be left for her. Hearing that Ruth has been singled out for special protection, Naomi tells Ruth to go out and snaffle the owner. (I paraphrase, naturally.) She is to find Boaz when he is asleep after some harvesting party, uncover his feet and lie down at them.
I recall reading some nonsense about how "feet" is a euphemism, blah, blah, blah, but speaking as a middle-aged person who does not sleep as well as she did in her youth, alas, I know exactly what Naomi was up to. She wanted to make sure Boaz woke up and noticed Naomi's superlative humility. How to wake a middle-aged person up without incurring his or her wrath? Remove the blanket from over their feet and wait. When the poor middle-aged feet get cold, the poor middle-ager will wake up, as did Boaz.
Someone or other has tried to justify chasing after men with Ruth's pursuit of Boaz. However, I would posit that Boaz "made the first move", as the saying is, by singling out Ruth for special protection and alms-in-the-form-of-grain. Naomi, who was an older woman and very realistic, had enough evidence to guess that Boaz might like to marry pretty, much-younger Ruth. Trusting to Boaz's reputation as a good man, and not wanting Ruth and herself to live in unprotected poverty, she sent Ruth into a potentially dangerous situation. This was not about romantic love; it was about economics and safety. But it was also about good people recognizing other good people. Instead of being cross, Boaz was impressed that Ruth had made herself vulnerable to him, not to some handsome young guy--as young women generally do, sometimes for shallow reasons, sometimes not.
Still that was then. Women in the west don't usually have to depend on their male relations for economic support, and good luck to you if you try to convince them that they owe you your living. Not only are all kinds of jobs and professions open to us, it is against the law for people to sexually harass us while we work at them. If you're good at your job--and you're not in some incredibly sexist-agist business like television--you can look like a monkey puzzle and you won't starve to death.
Obviously the Book of Ruth is not a sacred version of The Rules, but the aspect of the Ruth-Boaz relationship that really speaks to me is that Ruth may have "gone after" Boaz, after an older, perhaps wiser, woman who sincerely loved her judged this to be a good idea, but he was significantly older than herself.
I don't want twenty-somethings to cry into their morning coffee, but it does seem to me that the older are flattered by the attention and loyalty of the younger, and young people seem quite beautiful to the older, just for being young. If all the 20-something boys around you seem oblivious to your inner beauty, the 30-something men are probably not. However, this does not make them any less dangerous to your happiness, if they are jerks. A jerky 20-something wants a supermodel; a jerky 30-something wants a young thing to dominated. But at good 30-something man, if he isn't married already, will be equally surprised and delighted if a 20-something gives him the time of day.
Yes, I know you are probably sick of being hit on by "creepy older men" but not all older men are creepy, and nobody is creepy just for being five years or more older than you. It is worth it to strike up conversations with older guys in your social groups, just to be friendly. I do not, however, recommend finding the most attractive and attentive one where he is asleep after a party and uncovering his feet. You're not an impoverished widowed Moabite with a mother-in-law to feed.
How are you supposed to know when a guy just needs some more encouragement? It's tough. Feeling kind of discouraged after someone I liked (and who seemed to like me) didn't ask me out. Are you supposed to hoist a signal flag, or something? Except that in the moment I'm never sure I really want them to ask me out, I'm mostly just enjoying the conversation... it's only later on reflection that it dawns on me...ReplyDelete
--c'est la vie
Is hope dead? I mean, is there a chance he might ask you out later? I have always gone with the if-they're-interested-they-ask school of thought trumpeted by "The Rules", but we are talking about a new generation of men.... Half the young chaps I know seem to just ask girls out, but I think I will have a conversation with one of the quieter ones. I have always counselled smiling and touching their arms when making a point. In a non-touchy culture, a touch on the arm sends a big old message without being scary. I have fond memories of yelling at a now-married, mother-of-many, "SMILE at him! And TOUCH his ARM!"ReplyDelete
Pretty dead. I live in a different city. We have mutual friends and we've met a couple times before... he could ask them for contact info if he wanted to, but if he didn't want it then it's unlikely he'll contact me now. I smiled lots, but didn't do arm-touching. I also flirted at about 80%, 100% being as enthusiastic as I am capable of being... maybe I need to dial that up a bit next time I meet someone. It's just really hard to be sure of what you want in the moment, you know?Delete
So now I'm busily repeating to myself that crushes are like the common cold, uncomfortable but shortlived.
Well, if he didn't want to, he didn't want to. HJNTIY. That's too bad. Bad taste on his part. Boo.Delete
Not a fan of most May-December romances. The ones that I can think of, the older man prizes the young woman for being young, smart, beautiful. He treats her like gold, he is not threatened by her career success, but ultimately there isn't the connection needed for a long-term relationship because she is a prize, not an equal partner.ReplyDelete
Ooh, I know of two excellent ones--lovely twenty-somethings married to chap-hovering -on-this-or-that-side-of-40. Not sure that's May-December, though. More like May-September. May-October? Both girls are pretty strong-minded, so I don't think they're trophies on the mantlepieces at all. Oh, and I know a woman my age married to a chap who must now be in his 60s. A very happy marriage. They're all very literary, very social people, not particularly interested in money and status. Perhaps that makes a difference?Delete
I know of only a few such marriages and they are also happy and very well-matched.Delete
This could not have come at a better time.ReplyDelete
I have concluded that nearly all the men in their twenties who I know are basically completely unready for marriage-track relationships (not that they know that they're not ready). My father thinks they're all little boys. I think he might be right. My trusted 35 yo female friend thinks they're nearly all totally immature. Actually she called them 'losers' too. I think she was possibly a little harsh. But a lot of them are real gossips. And many of them seem to be seeking women who have at least two of following attributes: a) Asian; b) short; c) petite (as in childlike). I'm not short or Asian. I'm also not overweight (my BMI and waist circumference are normal), but a guy friend told me that it 'wouldn't hurt' for me to lose weight. I asked him for his opinion, and I'm not angry or upset, but it just does show that they seem to be after women who are borderline underweight. Dad thinks that's because they're all skinny themselves Perhaps that's true.
The thing is, I don't really know many men who are around 30, and I have no idea where they are.
I have more thoughts on this but I'll return later.
I feel like a foundation should give me a grant just to investigate your parish and write a sociological report on the men in it. I hope you've been working on your Polish. Practice on Babcia. Go to Poland.Delete
That would be GLORIOUS if you would research that. It's not just my parish, they're from all over the place. It's quite a cast of characters. Sometimes my eye-roll-prevention muscle is sorely tested.Delete
It's odd that men's attitude to women's weight seems to have changed over the years. When I was in my mid-20s, the average weight of women my age was considerably less than it is now, but men seldom seemed to object to a few extra pounds that might be called "cosmetic overweight". The ideals were, of course, women like Bo Derek or Victoria Principal (that hard-to-attain combination of big bosom and slim hips), but Valerie Bertinelli, slightly plump in the hips in her youth, was considered adorable by most young men. I remember many dormitory beauty queens at university, too, who were "plump" in the Bertinelli fashion.Delete
Nowadays, however, while generous backsides are considered quite acceptable among pinup queens and divas like the K clan (I won't name them because it's too obvious), men's preference seems to be for extraordinarily slender women in real life, just the opposite of the way things were when I was a young woman.
I've read some comments by men in the infamous "manosphere" who say this is because there are so many truly fat women around these days. They want to be certain that the women they consider as potential wives are not inclined in that direction. Perhaps this is unfair; after all, there are more overweight men around, too. On the other hand, I don't notice that young women are in general are eager to date such men. Worse yet, the role of the eye (as C.S. Lewis once put it) in choosing mates seems to be increasing all the time, perhaps because of the spread of social media and, above all, the selfie, which might be harmless on their own but in combination have a truly pernicious influence. It seems that photos really can steal your soul...
I know a woman who was hit on by a man who himself said that he had a grandson around her age. Ick.ReplyDelete
I'll probably stay single until being around my male friends no longer makes me want to cut my hair off and become a staff writer at jezebel.com.ReplyDelete
I've heard that people usually marry their friends. Let's hope that isn't true. I don't really want to marry Monarchist Guy or Yellow Fever Guy or Sexist-Racist Guy or Pterodactyl Guy.
Monarchist Guy called me 'mate' the other day. It sort of irritated me, although perhaps I am especially sensitive these days. Considering that I am neither bearing his babies nor meeting him down the pub for a beer, I fail to see how I'm his mate. And so I sort of told him off.
I've also found myself worrying less and less about whether what I'm wearing is 'modest' or not. Around these guys I don't think it makes much of a difference either way.
As the May of the May-December relationship (ours is a difference greater than 15 years, by the by) I find the only downside to be the knowledge that, should all go as nature intends, that my sweetheart will likely pass away while I am still in my 70s or 80s (we're both from long-lived lines). I could be with someone my age or younger, and they could be hit by a bus tomorrow; so the sorrow of a lonely old age (but I have an extended family...) seems an inadequate reason to prohibit our joy that we have today.ReplyDelete