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A woman approached me yesterday and asked, “Do you like my tee shirt?”

There was a message on the shirt, stretched across her chest, which is always awkward for me.

Her request amounted to something like this:

“I’ve purchased a shirt with a clever message that I’d love for you to read and admire. Unfortunately, the message is stretched across the curvature of my chest, requiring you to essentially stare at my chest while reading, and you might really need to stare if the message is in any way obscured by the curvature of my chest, which isn’t exactly flat and ideal for messaging.

Of course, you know that staring at a woman’s chest is not at all appropriate. Your lifelong exposure to the “My eyes are up here!” joke has made that abundantly clear, and as a decent human being, you probably know this anyway. No woman wants to be leered at in that way.

Except this time. Go ahead and stare because I think the message that I’ve stretched across my chest might make you smile in a non-sexual way, so please. Stare away. As long as you need to. Just this time.”

And that’s when I’m specifically invited to stare.

Just imagine how fraught and perilous these situations are when there is messaging on a woman’s shirt that you’d like to read but haven’t been invited to stare.