I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with friends at a lovely lake, where I had an experience that left me scratching my head. It didn’t involve crawly things on my scalp, but rather a boat that cruised by late one sunny afternoon.
There had been a steady trickle of motor boats and jet skis, but this particular craft stood out first by slowing down as they neared us. It looked like a private boat with no distinguishing features, save three vivacious young ladies who began calling out to us. They remarked enthusiastically on what a great day it was, asked us how we were doing, then asked if we’d like some beer: free beer. Two of our group were in the water, both men. More of us were on the dock, I happening to be the only woman at the moment. The bubbly ladies held up beer, and tossed cans into our vacant floating chair. The young ladies made the sort of “Woohoo!” noises you make at a concert, then the S/S Beer Commercial, driven by a silent man, sped off on its way.
Although the ladies hadn’t identified that they were being paid, or who was paying them, the beer was from a brewery I recognized. I assume that they were operating within the law, unless there’s a law against contaminating a rural lake with cheese, and if there isn’t, there should be. This tacky intrusion bugged me, mostly, I realized later, because the deck fluff, I mean brewery employees, weren’t direct about what they were doing or why they were there. The choice to use one’s looks and clothing, or lack of it, to make money is up to the individuals involved. However, my personal aesthetic would have been much more soothed by them cruising up, offering a cheerful greeting, and informing us who they represented and why they were, so improbably, there. I wouldn’t have been averse to a word or two from the man either. I also wondered if one of the lovely ladies might have been capable of captaining the vessel, but I guess in the world of beer, men do the real work like driving boats, and women ornament life.
Their over-the-top approach was so obviously directed to the males in any group, that I felt no qualms about ignoring them. I doubt this was troubling for them, but since all but one of the men in our group was blind, I suspect the young ladies were probably even more baffled than I was by the encounter. Men are supposed to drool over nice young ladies and free beer, but it didn’t quite happen that way this time. The men didn’t focus their gaze on the ladies, and the guys probably appeared, to the casual observer, to be disinterested. I chuckle even now as I wonder about the puzzlement of the ladies. Did they figure it out? What other explanations crossed their minds for the mens’ seeming indifference?
The whole thing left me feeling vaguely unclean: the flimsy attempt to make it all look like a TV commercial, oh, and the sense that as a boring woman no longer in my 20’s, I wasn’t really there. Those ladies would have been a lot more appealing to me if they’d been more real about what they were doing. I blatantly wasn’t their target audience though. I’m not a guy, and I don’t drink beer.
I wonder what happens when the S/S Peek at the Ship’s Cat cruises by a cottage-side peopled only with other women. Does the strong silent man driver come to life and start flexing his muscles? I wanted there to be a mutiny in which the young ladies took over driving the boat, and decided to turn their talents toward saving the world, fighting bad people, or at least being more forthright about what they were doing.