I I I I I I I  


by Marrit Ingman

A funny thing happened after I had a kid. People started hitting on me.

When I was single, my best hope with men, and with women, had always been friends of friends -- people who appreciate the slow burn of companionate attraction. Only twice in my single life was I approached by a stranger in a public place. The first was a guy who sidled up to me to ask uncertainly, “So...you like men?” The second was a homeless guy at a subway stop in Boston. He told me I had a beautiful smile and asked if I was married. I think he was after my apartment. Even my husband, when we first met, preferred my roommate.

But now? Now I’m getting a taser.

One day my son and I went to get ice cream after school. We were enjoying our scoops at the plastic Little Tikes toddler table. My son was describing a conflict with another kid at school. I was listening and interjecting sympathetically.

“How old’s your boy?” the guy asked. They always start with this question.

He pulled up a chair. Of course he purported to have a son who is two. Of course his son also played drums. You’re having lemon? Why, that’s his favorite flavor. You’re quitting smoking? So is he. He smiled as I accompanied my son to the water fountain, helped him onto the stepstool, and pushed the button down for him. Now there’s a Good Woman.

What followed was a chit-chat exchange, Austin-style: he’s in town with a band, has a big show on Saturday, perhaps I could come and he could get me backstage, blah, blah, blah. I listened and responded politely, but I also dropped a few not-so-subtle hints I was happily married. When we finished our ice cream, I took my son’s hand and guided him to the door. “Enjoy your show,” I called back to him.

He jogged after us and stopped me on the sidewalk.

“I just wanted to say that you’re really beautiful,” he said.

“Oh, get out of here,” I blurted -- a statement he read not as a directive but as feminine self-effacement, an inquiry for more detail. How could an older woman in yoga pants and no makeup be really beautiful?

“No, I really mean it. You’re amazing.”

“I’m ready to go to the car,” my son announced.

I looked down. “We’re ready,” I said. I looked back up. “You are not being serious.”

“I’ve been single for five months, and I just think you’re really beautiful,” he insisted.

I probably stood there longer than I wanted to because I was confused. Women like me are not found beautiful by men. We are the girls men turn to after they’ve blown it with hot chicks; we’re their next-door neighbors, library aides, and Latin tutors. What did he hope was going to happen? I was going to park my kid in the photo booth and blow him in the bathroom? I have never been hit on by strangers. I don’t have the vocabulary for it.

Last weekend I walked into my neighborhood bar to meet a friend and before the door had closed behind me, a very drunk guy had turned around, noticed me, and told me he loved me. I showed him my wedding ring. “I love you anyway,” he said. He went on to tell me that he’d just sold his company and realized his dream of retiring before 40. He said there was a raging party at his house. He said it was too bad I couldn’t go there with him.

(continued at right)

“I don’t understand this stuff,” I lamented to my friend, into my drink, which was a Jack and Coke because that’s all I could think of ordering. I was like an Appalachian Child Bride by the standards of the single, childless professional people my age. I sat in the bar with a stick up my ass, and not in a good way.

“The Appalachian Child Bride thing is kind of hot,” my friend said. It wasn’t before, but I guess it kind of is now.

Days later, another friend, whom I’ve known since I was 19, agreed. “You know, you’re getting really hot,” she said.


“Really,” she said. “You’re kind of a MILF, honey.”  [Mother I’d Like to Fuck]

“I am?”

“Yep. You’re sexy!” she teased. I certainly wasn’t sexy before, when I lived in a house with her and had a crush on her and used to cry myself to sleep at night because she wasn’t into me.

Now I’m a MILF.

I think most of us misapprehend the “MILF” phenomenon. Women are said to fight to retain their sexuality after becoming mothers, but the reality is that motherhood is sexy. You don’t get babies from a cabbage patch, after all. You get them from fucking, sometimes from fucking a lot. And from then on you just get sexier. You nurture. You listen. You comfort. You develop nonverbal communication skills, and that’s really hot. You hang out on the floor with toys, and that’s pretty hot, too. You have personal cleaning wipes handy, and you’re good at persuasion and sharing and making snacks after free play. Best of all, you become conversant in fantasy from spending your days and nights with an imaginative, random human being who believes the garbage truck is going to fly to the moon.

The men you meet, even randomly, don’t care if you go to the gym or are Forever 21. They’re burned out on hysterical and dramatic women. You’re fun and playful and listen well. You forgive people who vomit on you. You play Legos, and you can talk about chain-bucket dredgers and DeWitt Clinton trains, especially if you have a son. You know what boys need: talking down from tantrums, food, and occasional baths. You wear whatever’s clean and you have good groceries. You are compassionate and capable. You can yell into a cordless phone at your HMO while you’re helping Thomas the Tank Engine deliver apple boxes from Knapford Orchard on your kid’s wooden railway system. You have superpowers and extremely sensitive nipples.

“We also know how to discipline with love,” points out a friend from my son’s playgroup. She’s a reformed wild child and mother of two; in her younger life she once did drugs with Kurt Cobain. Now she organizes the Chinese New Year celebration at her kid’s Waldorf school. And she just retired from a glorious stint as the “Penalty Princess” for the Texas Rollergirls, Austin’s flat-track roller derby league. Even heavily pregnant, she used to dress up in fishnets and Turbonegro makeup and spank tattooed women wearing rollerskates and Catholic-schoolgirl uniforms. There was a “wheel of fortune” device involved. It was thermonuclear. But when she jokingly threatens to spank the other minivan moms, that’s hotter still.

Meanwhile your body is getting Hot From Within. Once you reach A Certain Age, you are genetically programmed to crave spunk. Everybody looks good. Everybody is tall and has good teeth or musical talent or mathematical ability. Everybody looks good when the weather turns and they break out jackets and scarves. Everybody looks good when they’re smiling at your child in the post office. Your ovaries are blazing bright. They notice the clerk who is helping you select a flip-top aluminum trash can—you need this because you throw out a lot of half-eaten fruit, and you’ve developed a little problem with maggots. Of course you’re repulsed by your maggoty kitchen, but you can relate to the flies fucking in your garbage. You don’t blame them because we’re all driven by our reproductive imperatives. Your maggots are actually sort of hot.

But be careful: it’s dangerous out there. When you make small talk with a dad and a baby over string cheese at the grocery store, it’s a come-on, even if you’re just trying to be nice to someone who appears exhausted and stressed and in need of peer support. When you commiserate with a dad who’s having relationship problems—who is telling you how his wife doesn’t understand him, how the passion has evaporated from their relationship now that they’re taking care of a new and initially helpless human being—the supportive pat on the shoulder you offer can elicit a polyamorous proposal in return. It’s happened to me, and it wasn’t something that I wanted; I was preoccupied with my son’s toileting and my own marriage and my incredible disappearing career. I’m too busy trying to put pants on my toddler to mind other people getting into mine. The cruelest irony is that when you are most attractive to others, you will be least available to them.
 About the Author:
Marrit Ingman
is a freelance writer, film critic, occasional educator, and constant mother. She is a frequent contributor to the Austin Chronicle, and her writing on popular culture has also appeared in Brain, Child, Fertile Ground, Alternet.org, Clamor, and Venus. Her first book, Inconsolable: How I Threw My Mental Health out with the Diapers, describes her experience with postpartum depression and was published in 2005 by Seal Press.


I I I I I I I  

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