After I read the new, improved opening to Fast Lane, one woman in my writers group nodded and said, with a faraway look in her eyes, “Women can be so insecure about the way they look. I really get that.”

To her, showing more evidence of Lara’s insecurities was evidence that the opening to Fast Lane had, indeed, gotten better.

Not that I can’t identify as well. Men have these insecurities, too. That’s why you see ads for Rogaine, Cialis and weight-loss elixirs during NFL games. Sometimes we even confront these insecurities in literature, movies and plays.

And rock ’n roll. The Rolling Stones sum it up nicely in Beast of Burden: “Am I hard enough? Am I rough enough? Am I rich enough? I’m not too blind to see.”

At no time do these insecurities raise their ugly heads with more ferocity than during the teen years. I come from a generation that was forced to take showers after gym class. The strong with the weak. The skinny with the ripped. The hairy with the baby smooth.

Thank God I’m old enough now to not give a damn. If I’m in a locker room and need a shower, I’m in the shower—I don’t care who’s hanging around. And since I work out at a college rec center, who’s hanging around is always some buff young lion. Heading for the sauna with a swimsuit on and a towel wrapped around his waist.

Then there are the old lawyers, lollygagging in all their glory for hours with towels draped over their shoulders as they try to out-Republican each other and argue about a hinder call someone made on the racquetball court three months ago. I once heard a comedian ponder this very phenomenon by asking, “Why is it that the older you are, the more naked you have to be in the locker room?”

I know why. The older you are, the less you fret over blemishes and bulges—or lack thereof.

I don’t know if it’s like that for women. But I know this: Riding my bike past a popular Lake Michigan beach the other day when the temperature was ninety-four (a coincidence, I swear), I noticed that a significant number of younger women seemed not to be pathologically concerned about how they look in two-piece swimsuits, even though their bodies did not resemble, shall we say, Angelina Jolie’s.

Which I take as a good sign.

Maybe somewhere there’s a Rubinesque twenty-two-year-old woman who’ll read Fast Lane on the beach wearing a skimpy bikini and say, with a faraway look in her eyes, “Why can women be so insecure about the way they look? I don’t get that at all.”

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