June 18, 2010

being hit on

**note: this post feels really disjointed.  I've been thinking about writing this for days now and it is just as scattered as my thoughts on this are. So bear with me.**

Three times in the past week I have been "hit on" in our little town. Never mind the rings on my finger indicating my married status.  Never mind the fact that I'm a minister and did 18 funerals last year in this little town. Never mind the fact that I'm pretty sure I'm half the age of some of these dudes. 

It always happens at the strangest times and in the strangest places.  Paying for my breakfast at the cafe.  In the soup aisle at the grocery store. Someone walks up and makes a little comment and I feel embarrased and frustrated and I try to be polite and brush it off but what I really want to do is scream, "INAPPROPRIATE!"

Maybe it's because I'm showing off more leg with my knee length skirts now that it is summer.  Maybe it's because my husband isn't attached to my hip 24/7 and we kind of do our own thing when we aren't home. Maybe it's because I... why am I assuming it has something to do with me?

I guess I thought that the ring would protect me from advances.  I admit that I'm grateful to have married my high school sweetheart - because I really haven't had to mess with the dating scene. But the truth is... are women EVER able to stay away from guys hitting on them?

Being a pastor also adds an additional layer of complication.  In seminary and in conversations with mentors I have always been taught that pastors should be friendly, but not friends with people in their congregation. And for the most part that has worked. It also helps that I have a network of friends outside of the community and I don't feel the need to be best friends with people in the church. We have a work relationship, we have a pastor/parishoner relationship... and that's good.

But what does that maxim mean for people outside the congregation? If I'm friendly to the guy in the coffee shop, he thinks I'm flirting with him. Or is he just being friendly back and I'm misinterpreting it? No, definately not.  His response was definately not appropriate.

In the back of my head, I'm aware that at any moment, someone in this town could pass away and anyone in this community could become my parishoner.  Someone might be getting married this summer and they will be at the wedding and they will in that sense be my parishoner.  I'm not a community chaplain, but I'm also not going to turn people from the community away when they come knocking. In everything that I do in the community, I try to wear my professional hat and be the pastor.

But then I run to the grocery store in a tank top and jogging shorts to get hamburger buns for dinner and someone hits on me.

I refuse to dress like a grandma just so people won't notice me. I desperately want to feel like a normal person some days.  But c'mon people - it's not okay to hit on a pastor in the soup aisle.

1 comment:

  1. First off, besides being a married pastor you're also a woman. Sometimes a woman is something more than a normal person, and sometimes something less. A lot of the time a woman is both more and less than a normal person, but not at the same time a normal person. You, as a woman, mean things to other people, and these things are not the ways you know and define yourself: "pastor" and "married" don't always enter the picture you form when you're standing in the soup aisle dressed in a tank top and jogging shorts.

    Second, I've noticed two trends among women of the age and physique to attract me. One is to sometimes wear a ring on the ring finger, though the women are unmarried, as if to deter advances and/or to attract men who are willing to advance regardless of or in spite of the apparent unavailability.

    The other trend involves a kind of bipolarity with regards to social reserve. There's definitely a lot more skin on public display now than I think I've ever seen. There's also a semantic labyrinth for me to puzzle through if I hope to have even a friendly conversation with a woman -- and she's not too drunk to keep her guard up.

    I don't know what to make of it all, given how I live in the midst of it, though I suspect that it has something to do with marketing, the meaning of words, liberation and liberation theology/social justice, and a whole lot of other things. What I mean is that I don't think I'm the only one having trouble making sense of social things in this place and at this time in history. It seems that all bets are off.