There is a wonderful black-and-white photograph of my grandparents when they were a young couple in the 1930s. Grandpa Nat sports a confident Sinatra grin, his arm around the younger Barbara who stands thin and prim, wedge heels tight together and her body wrapped in a long wool coat. A man and the woman he courted, taking on life in the face of the Depression and the coming war that would draft him while she was left behind to nurse their newborn son, my uncle.
Eighty years later and we have the easygoing hipster couples I see here in Portland with nary an opinion or a spine between them. He has no muscles, she has no ass. He wears tight jeans, she wears tight jeans. He wears plaid flannel shirts, she does the same.
They both have tattoos that are more lifestyle accessories than signs of hard living or military camaraderie. They like the same kitschy folk bands that are not fueled by testosterone but accented by the pings of xylophones. The only way you can tell them apart is that he has a beard and she has bangs.
Meanwhile in the general female population seen downtown or in malls, they all wear the same provocative outfit regardless of age: tall hooker boots made of synthetic leather, sleek tights that show every curve and crevice in titillating detail, and some cute, cheap top from Target that accentuates the best features of their bust. From behind you can’t tell if they’re 15, 30, or 45. (If for propriety’s sake you’re “lucky,” at least they’ll be wearing a monochrome “skirt” made of the flimsiest t-shirt material.)