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A Life Reaffirming Ass Slap

January 21, 2013
Seriously, cannot recommend it.  Oh, and I didn't take this photo.

The is the 49 club, in all its (dubious) glory.

It was 3am on a Saturday night, and I was gyrating in the basement of a not particularly nice club in Soho.  My friends and I had formed a little dance circle, as one does, wiggling our hips and hands and heads to bass pounding techno-remixes of songs I had never heard of, mostly from the late 1980s. Hugh mocked and mimicked my belly dancing isolations with an alluring shimmy, Tali went as low as one goes, and Sarah showed off famous moves such as the hair pat or jazz hands.  It was misty and hot and the lights swirled around us in stars and sparks, cutting through the darkness in a meandering display of light and color.

Near us, another group of women dancing in short skirts and intense makeup decided to call it a night; they shrugged on coats and hats and gloves, their revealing club clothing in no way appropriate for the freezing cold and snowy London night outside.  In minutes, what were three attractive women became amorphous bundles of laundry topped by festive pompoms, lumbering their way across the room to ascend the stairs.

The last one, not yet armored up like her compatriots, stopped behind me and leaned in close.  Her eyes were large, brown and lined in kohl.  I instinctively moved closer to her as she opened her red rouged lips to speak.

“Just so you know, you are incredibly sexy.  Never let anyone ever tell you otherwise.”  Her voice was low and breathy and British and strangely impassioned.  Before I could stammer out a thank you, she slapped my ass lightly, and disappeared up the stairs.  I watched her leave, a small, confused smile on my face.

‘What just happened?’ mouthed my friend Pearl from across the dance circle.  I shrugged.

What did just happen?

I loved this movie when I was a kid.

You don’t have to look like Jessica Rabbit to make people’s eyes hop.

Every so often, I am struck by a bone-deep understanding:  We are all so beautiful at this age.  We have youth and nubile limbs that move the way we tell them to. We have hips, and a swerve of the shoulder, and the knobby line of the spine down the back. We have soft skin that hasn’t yet been yellowed or leathered by sorrow or sun or smoking.  It is almost painful to realize how absolutely stunning we are.

In high school, I used to not smile showing teeth because I believed it made my face look fat.  I hid my body in boy’s clothes and my insecurity in insouciance.  These days, I look upon photos of myself in high school and think about how crazy I was.  Now I dance in front of the mirror, alone in my room, Taylor Swift or Jimmy Eat World or Ke$ha blaring forth from my speaker system.  I watch my muscles move and marvel.  How is it that I possess such versatile, powerful delicacy of movement?  The ability to type on the computer and the ability to run, legs pumping across pavement.  The subtle strength of human architecture.

This understanding doesn’t last of course.  Not in the prismatic brilliance that the original revelation had.  It loses its emotional power, and soon I just remember it cognitively.  Youth is attractive, the human form miraculous, yeah, yeah, but look at that zit!  The stomach that isn’t flat, but has dimples of fat.  The hair that is at war with itself.  And soon I am back where I started, with a sense of personal, incomplete quotidian beauty at best.

And so I thank that random woman who slapped my ass.  She not only slapped my ass, she transformed it.  It is once again part of a goddess.   A human being in her youth, who is comfortable and casually joyful in her own body.   A slap on the ass reminded me that I should celebrate my physicality.  For age creeps upon us all.  Someday, I will admire and sigh about the young frisky bodies with their insecure gaits that pass me on the street, who are unconsciously vibrant, despite themselves.  I will smile indulgently when I see a girl pout at a camera, her lips tightly shut, her eyelids like blue shimmery butterflies with black fringed wings.  And I will love and rejoice in my body and its growing limitations- for I hear one of the benefits of age is the wisdom and ability to hold deep revelations close.

So, ladies and gentlemen, old and especially young, please remember.  You are incredibly sexy, and must never let anyone tell you otherwise.

Don’t make me slap your ass for you to get the message.

Copyright 2007 by Marty Katz

At my father’s wedding. Women of several generations jamming and dancing together.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2013 1:39 PM

    This is an absolutely beautifully written post 🙂

    One question to tease your heteronormativity: what if you were in the same situation, same group of people, and instead of three women, there were three men calling it a night, and one of them on the way out leaned in close, then said “Just so you know, you are incredibly sexy. Never let anyone ever tell you otherwise” and he slapped you on the ass. Would your reaction have been different? Would you have been as complimented and inspired, or would you have been offended by the presumption, the imposition, the objectification?

    I ask because I am fairly sure such situations happen to you frequently (being as you, being Luca, are extremely sexy), but more importantly, modern feminism is very tied up in the non-question question, often presented by men: “I’m just paying you a compliment, deary, why so upset?” And of course the answer often has nothing to do with the compliment but the cisgendered context and the frequency with which such encounters occur for the woman and her natural instinctive reaction to be on guard. I wonder if in this situation, such fears would have evaporated because after all, it’s a woman, so we don’t have to be as sensitive to sexual aggression.

    (There’s an added twist: what if the woman had been into women? Same sexual aggression, same objectification, same hunting posture. Would have changed the situation?)

    Or, perhaps you take an entirely opposite approach to this in which case I would like to hear your insight there as well!

    • January 21, 2013 2:16 PM

      This is very thoughtful Brian.

      In answer to your hypothetical: if a man had hit my ass, you are right, the response would have been very different. Unfortunately, women are on guard with men, and men rarely slap asses at clubs just to pay a completely non-opportunistic compliment. I would not have approved. So, yes, this is extremely hetero-normative, and unfortunate: only women can get away with inspirational ass-slapping.

      But if the woman had been into women… that doesn’t bother me. I am not even sure why, but maybe it had to do with the tone in her voice. It was a tone of solidarity, of trying to make a connection, of women to women connection. Even if she had been getting sexual visual pleasure from my dancing, it isn’t threatening to be touched that way by a foreign woman, no matter her sexual proclivities. Again, I know this makes no sense, but that’s how I feel.

      • bmmayer1 permalink
        January 22, 2013 12:01 PM

        Well in that case, we should figure out why a woman being sexually aggressive is so different from a man doing the same thing. I can tell you, having been hit on by gay men in bars, I am much more uncomfortable being hit on by men than by women. Maybe women are just better at it 🙂

  2. January 24, 2013 12:33 PM

    Luca:
    Love the post, the vocabulary and the rich tapestry it weaves to convey the experience. I got a special laugh from the imagery that “what were three attractive women became amorphous bundles of laundry topped by festive pompoms”. V. funny
    Regarding the dialogue with Brian, I can only weigh in that it might just be that a woman being sexually agressive is not threatening in the same way sexual agression from a man is perceived. And in a sweeping generalization :), being “the same species” as it were, women can connect and understand one another better than in a male/female dynamic. This allows a situation like that described in Luca’s blog to generate less feelings of there being a threat; it’s more of an affirmation from a kindred kind. Again, just my own take on this….
    And yes, Luca, you were always beautiful, even when your self consciousness didn’t allow you to own up to that!

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