The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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If I am going to be really truthful, then I’d like to say this: I don’t really know if I am an attractive woman. I am an attractive person; I have enough confirmation on that. However, as far as physical attractiveness goes, hmmm… I don’t know.

A gawky girl with stick-straight hair and a gummy smile grew up to be an awkward teenager. Something changed around age 16. Maybe the hormones were doing their thing, but I hit the beginning of my “attractive” phase. Male attention found its way to me.

(I wonder if the guys around actually saw me, or they saw themselves reflected in my willing, friendly eyes. Some of us have the rare fortune of functioning as mirrors to others. They see themselves in us, and we get lost in the reflecting images. They don’t really see us, but they seem to love us, because they see themselves reflected in our transparent countenances. Perhaps that’s why guys paid me attention, compliments and such.)

I was sufficiently young and naive; so I thought of myself as an attractive girl that time. I was slim, and I had this lovely head of hair — silky, bouncy, and most importantly, straight.

Those were heady years, perhaps a tad too much. Heady enough that I lost sight of myself, which is an oft-happening occurrence for folks like me: the mirrors.

Kerala, 2011

As I headed to engineering college, the pattern continued to play itself out. Guys and attention, compliments and positive feedback… it went on. The awkward teenager felt vindicated.

(Despite what you may think, my fundamentals were solid, because I zeroed in on the one guy who stayed outside this shiny universe. And I stuck with him. Turned out to be a good decision.)

The years went on, and so did my attractive streak. Like every young woman, I was probably putting out feelers, scanning the territory for solid, bankable mates. I certainly got my share of matching signals, some terribly messed up.

Then marriage happened. Young, romantic love ripened into a sweet companionship and a rich friendship.

But I was attractive no more. Perhaps the signals had shifted without my knowledge?

As the years rolled on, I started looking younger and older at the same time, if you can imagine that. I didn’t have the fresh-faced innocence of youth, but my slim frame made me look much younger than my actual age. I wore no makeup, dressed like I’d just graduated college… And my hair began graying. I think my body and mind were playing games, confusing each other and everyone else! Men could no longer place me, or so it seemed.

But more significantly, I think I had begun signaling a lack of interest.

So, while women talk about having to handle unwelcome attention from males around them, I wonder: Where is this attention? Why isn’t it finding me?

I think I am not the mirror any more. My mirror has turned inward. Suddenly (or not so suddenly), my attention to the outside has dwindled. I am not available, I guess.