I went to the dentist today. On the way there, I was walking with my head up, enjoying the hot autumn day. Perhaps I even had a smile on my face as I watched the sunlight filter through the light reds and oranges on the leaves around me.

At one point, I made eye contact with a male. It wasn’t on purpose. I was just curious about the world. I wanted to look up and around and at all the places that weren’t 3-4 feet in front of me on the sidewalk. I wanted to see things. I wanted to examine. It is a perfectly natural desire, to examine, and yet the ever-examined can rarely indulge.

I looked away, quickly. I put my eyes back where they, “belong,” but it was too late. Somehow, in that 3 milliseconds, the man had seen me looking, at him. Which, of course, must mean that I am interested in him.

His face curled up. He turned from blank to lascivious before I had taken another step.

Lascivious. Honestly, I didn’t know the exact meaning of the word. I had to look it up. It is one of those words that bounces around in my vocabulary based on feeling instead of logic- the wet of the s, the exposure of the v. It slithers off the tongue, leaving a gross trail of sludge behind it.

Imagine my surprise when I looked it up, and learned that the word does not imply anything gross, or an ill behavior. It is simply feeling or revealing an overt sexual desire. I am lascivious multiple times a week. My husband is lascivious multiple times a day. Yet… we aren’t.

The history of the word, the context in which I have always experienced, comes when someone expresses that overt desire without permission, without invitation, without provocation.

Lascivious. I want to rescue the word. Empower myself and turn it into something sexy. Something intimate. Something I control. But all I can think of is the wolf-like way his lips curled and the violence in his eyes, and the crude words he said as I passed.

I passed. It was over. Just three steps on the sidewalk and the turn of his head. But then, so were my wandering eyes and the feeling that the day was light and full of promise.


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