Men Don’t Make Passes… full stop.

When I was a mere slip of a girl in the 50s and 60s there used to be this horrid, patronising, sexist saying: “Men Don’t Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses”, and in my experience this was true. Of course, it may only have been true in my experience. It is possible that other girls with glasses were having a whale of a time.

At least part of this may have been due to the ugliness of glasses in 50s and 60s Britain. From 1948 to 1985 there was a phenomenon unique to Britain – the National Health Spectacle Frame. Apparently these were the envy of other countries, who had neither a National Health nor its spectacle frames, but they were loathed in this country. The range was – limited – to say the least, and what there was seemed to have been designed, either to discourage you from availing yourself of their extreme cheapness, or to advertise to the world that you were too poor to be able to afford anything else. Which of course, you were.

I remember a little boy called Steven Savage (forgive me little Steven, if you are still alive). All the kids used to call him Steven Sandwich, since it sounded like that. Poor Steven Sandwich had National Health specs, and worse, one of the lenses was permanently covered in pink sticky plaster. I believe this was a technique to strengthen a weak ‘other’ eye, by forcing it to do twice the work. Either that or the glass was cracked.

And glasses or not, I had other issues. It wasn’t just the glasses that failed to attract men to me, but me being taller than all of them and possessed of what a doctor once (erroneously, a it turned out) referred to as “child-bearing hips” or was it “child-bearing thighs”? My Dad was 6 foot 4 inches tall and all my female relatives on his side were Amazonian in build. I had an aunt and a sister both pushing 6 foot, and another sister 5 foot 10. I was actually the lucky one – I was the shortest.

And I didn’t know how to talk to them. I grew up with sisters. I went to school with girls. Boys were – alien. They guffawed a lot. They patronised. They obviously felt themselves to be superior. And the advice then was not, under any circumstances, to appear to be cleverer than them. Men liked clever girls even less than they liked girls who wore glasses. So I tried to be stupid but could never quite pull it off.  Unable to speak my actual thoughts, I was left with nothing at all to say. Banter was beyond me. Giggling – just couldn’t manage it. Flirting – never quite got the hang.

Eventually I managed to bag a man or two, but only by signalling my availability really, really obviously, and how I even did that I can’t remember. And even then these chaps didn’t exactly rush to take advantage of me. Special Offer, and all that. It was more like an unenthusiastic amble.

And then I didn’t fancy them anyway, because:

Premise Number 1:

Who would want a man who only ambled? I wanted my Hero, my Knight on a White Charger, that man who would pursue me desperately to the ends of the earth; somebody driven frantic by my very presence in a room. I wanted romance, I wanted passion.

But even if there had been a Mr Darcy I would have instantly lost interest in him, because:

Premise Number 2:

If he was the sort of man desperate enough to want me he couldn’t be a proper man. He needs must be wimp, a total loser; there had to be something seriously wrong with him.

Premise Number 2 is the killer because there’s absolutely no way around it. For an entire lifetime your logical mind can argue the self-defeating ridiculousness of Premise Number 2: some primitive, damaged part of your subconscious will continue to know it is true.

At one point I had an inspiration. I could be a Lesbian! I wasn’t sure, to be honest, what Lesbians did with each other, but I knew I was already built for the part. All it would take was one of those shaven hairdos and perhaps a silver stud through my tongue. My niece – she of the pink hair, the Doc Martens, the many exotic tattoos and, sadly, now, the failed kidneys, once shared a flat with a gaggle of Lesbians and it didn’t seem to do her any harm. In fact my exotic niece seems to have had an awful lot more fun in her life than I ever did.

Anyway, so I looked around at women and attempted to find at least a few of them attractive but, inconveniently, could not. (My old friends Rose and Daisy will be relieved to hear this.)

And now – well, now things are better. I don’t feel obliged to attract men at all, and certainly not in that competitive, trophy-hunting, 1960s kind of way.  I like men – mostly and I like women – mostly. And mostly people are just people to me nowadays. I treat them alike, whatever they are.

And – bonus – the National Health Spectacle Frame is no more – abolished, I believe, by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. I can wear any specs I like. I can send for them through the post, I can try them on at home and send them back if I don’t like them. I can have three pairs. I can have purple ones, or tortoiseshell, or knicker-pink.  I can go Dame Edna or John Lennon. I can – what else can I do…? Oh well, you know what I mean.

nhs

19 thoughts on “Men Don’t Make Passes… full stop.

  1. LOL, oh, it’s always gonna be good! I could be wrong, but it seems to me that, somehow, you went from eyeglass frames/chauvinism to Oh yeah?/Lesbianism, and then onward to Genders Are Overrated and I’m wearing any damned eyeglass frames I want, including knicker-pink. LOL!! I’m still thinking about Thomas-the-3-Legged, actually, and how I think you should order some men’s deerskin mittens for tending to Thomas’ fights, and that I hope you’ve got that clumping kitty litter which is such a mind-saver, because even tinkles clump like crazy and are easily scooped out, no need to change the litter for at least a week. (Two, for me.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was a bit of a wild ride, that post. I just write it the way it comes into my head. Re the fights, I just let them get on with it now. Can’t face another fortnight of drives to the hospital for antibiotic injections. Actually, they were both asleep on the same bed this morning, so maybe they have calmed down a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had the pink NHS ones with sticking plaster. What with that and ginger hair put into ringlets by my mother every night you had to be tough to survive with some self esteem intact…
    My father was a fervent supporter of the NHS..and public education…. all I can say is that while the latter turned out to be superb those blasted glasses were not!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, well. I had the national health glasses, too. And went to an all-boys secondary school, so with a single, younger, brother, it meant my experience of girls was almost nil. They certainly didn’t rush over to introduce themselves to me at discos!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Boy did you nail teenage angst! I was also blessed with childbearing hips, very little experience with girls and grades that we considered unsexy. Honestly, I think if we can survive our teenage years, we can survive anything. But only you can make it sound funny!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, now that I read my comment, I realized I meant “very little experience with boys.” But I guess it works both ways, since I wasn’t sexually attracted to girls either. Still, it shows what happens when I try to type a bit too quickly.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I spotting that but knew what you meant. I find firing off quick replies to comments on this not-very-smart-phone the most dangerous. The leprechaun that lives inside it puts all sorts of things I’m sure I never typed.

        Like

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