I’m going to give it to you straight. I’m not unattractive. But I’m not a looker, either. Most of the time, I walk through life unencumbered by the burdens of the beautiful—no one tries to pinch my buttocks, there are no demands for phone numbers, no jaws drop or heads turn when I walk in a room. I’m in my 40s now, but it’s been this way my whole life. I’m quite comfortable with being average looking, at most, kind-of cute.
However . . . put me in a chess tournament and suddenly Shark Girl is hot.
Oldest Son plays competitive chess, so I find myself in chess contexts a fair amount. At the last tournament, I was “hit on” more times than in the entire previous ten years of my life combined. “Hit on” in a chess context encompasses a broad spectrum of weird compliments, strange confessions, and awkward put-downs of my absent husband.
Apparently in chess circles, Shark Girl is smoldering.
Perhaps it’s because I come from good chess stock, and these guys think I will breed good chess babies. (I do, by the way . . . both my boys got trophies today!) At one tournament, a chess enthusiast hovered around the edges of my personal space, complimenting my son’s prowess until he found out he knew my brother and nephew who are both high profile chess players. Then, he went in for the kill. Chess Enthusiast entertained my restless children, mercilessly showing me how “good he was with kids.” He bragged of expensive chess accoutrements, and even let my clumsy son play with them, feigning not to be really angry when Son spilled a drink all over the high-end wood. He questioned where Husband was and commented that he, Chess Enthusiast, would never leave a woman of my caliber’s side (presumably until his chess match was called).
I’ve had someone tell me, “Hey, I was looking at you from behind and I thought you were a teenager! You’ve got quite nice hindquarters for a woman of your age!” Let’s not get into why he was checking out teen-aged behinds.
Yes, I am what you call “chess hot,” meaning that most of the male populace passes me by without notice, but for some reason, chess nerds find me irresistible. Is there something about my jiu jitsu physique that drives them wild? Do I have some heady BJJ pheromone exuding from my pores, alerting all nerd-type men in a hotel-lobby radius that “I play chess, baby, but horizontally”?
I guess I’ve got to take what my average-perhaps-cute-and-aging person can get. So today as I prepared to take my sons to another chess tournament, I pulled on my best Land’s End sweatpants and a ratty fleece pullover, threw my shoulders back and strutted into the lobby prepared to lean over the skittles table like some super-sexy chess diva. Take that, soccer moms!