I decided to write this on a Tuesday. I have a love-hate relationship with Tuesdays. On the one hand, they hold the promise of a brand new day. The other hand, however, is ever groping for the proverbial shoe to fall from the sky. Anything that can go wrong, will — usually on a Tuesday.
The Tuesday in question seemed promising at first. When we were homeless, Drew and I discovered the Stealz app and began collecting points on it with McDonald’s. 5 points may be exchanged for a free small fry. 10 for a single, free Big Mac. We collected points as often as possible, hoarding them up. Once we had enough, we would go to a participating McD’s and have a meal for a buck. And I do mean a $1 bill, give or take a few coins. We’d buy a large drink to split. We don’t collect or use points quite as often anymore, but lately, McDonald’s has been the one place we can afford to “go out” to eat — thanks to these points. As lame as it sounds, this wasn’t just any Tuesday. It was an afternoon date of sorts.
We were bound for the library, holds waiting. We’d just sold a box spring on Craigslist, which added to the day’s possibilities. Before leaving the house, we’d listed off all the things we’d wanted and needed, identifying the precious few that fit into the day’s meager budget. We get to buy real spaghetti sauce… [read: not that bland-ass canned shit] and we’re having chili later in the week with actual sour cream and cheese and crackers. I was elated.
We arrived at the bus station sometime after noon and had to wait on our next bus. Downtown is a network of Pokémon Go stops; I was on level 20, trying to find or hatch several ‘new’ critters for my Pokédex. Drew stayed in the bus depot as I made the rounds of nearby stops.
I passed a rock wall and continued by a line of shops, doors and brick buildings. A narrow alleyway was up ahead. Local shopkeeps (I assume) park their vehicles there by day, cutting down on the space one has to walk through the alley. My phone vibrates — another Clefairy. It’s only the 9th one today [or so it seems], nothing compared to the hordes of Rattatta apparently residing in my apartment complex. Management has been notified, and I await their response to my on-site, pest-control application.
As I’m walking past the alley, a riotous shade of red fabric obstructs my periphery. It’s glaring in contrast to a white vehicle in the alley. But that’s not why I’m startled. It’s paired with a distinctively male voice, in pretensively seductive tones, “Hey baby, how you doin’?”
“…you, on the other hand, COULD ACTUALLY DIE.” Marquis had told me that in May. I can’t ignore this. But I must. RUN, but don’t run. Don’t run, Laura. DON’T RUN!!! Pretend you heard nothing. Walk on. Check the shop windows for him to follow, then act…
Four years ago, this man would’ve thought twice about speaking to me, or restricted his comments to, “Nice dog, looks good! What breed is he?” But Georgi’s not here anymore. Men
can’t won’t let me pass without saying hi, and they certainly don’t jump back and ask if my Growlithe bites. I felt so safe with Georgi… he passed away in 2014.
I’m not a violent person — and when I do have a large dog, it won’t bite anyone unless provoked. But I considered spinning around and kicking this man for frightening me. Plugging my ears with my earbuds, I resolved not to speak to anyone else except Drew and my favorite bus driver the rest of the day. And I didn’t. I also decided to write this; y’know, once my anxiety gave way to anger.
This is for the women, but you men need to see it, too. There’s nothing wrong with a neighborly hello. But if I’m walking and I don’t know you, any exchange between us is so not about your manhood [or potential lack thereof should you pick on the wrong female]. Your cutesy nickname for me is rendered useless, sugah-dumplin’ honey-pie [see what I did there?].
- I’m not a man hater.
- I’m not afraid of all of you, nor do I automatically run upon noting that you are, in fact, male.
- While I don’t believe your lack of control is directly proportional to my modesty, you should recognize that I don’t dress immodestly or in a manner intended to tease you.
- I honestly would love to get to know some of you, but this whole “hey baby” thing just isn’t working out for either of us, so…
…a few pointers:
- You need to accept that happy marriages exist and that if I [or any other woman] is attatched, or wearing that ring, you need to just not flirt with her. I imagine you’d be pretty ticked off if you were with a woman and another man tried to talk her into his bed. So don’t be that guy.
- What is a “neighborly hello”? Let’s try something simple. You see me on the street and we’re going to meet at some point. How about you just say, “Hi” as we pass. I’ll likely respond in kind and keep walking. We’ve no further need to converse.
- What if you need to talk to her? What if you’re looking for directions to the Emergency Room or need to warn her that her shoe’s untied before she breaks that beautiful face? Try “Excuse me, miss / ma’am…” if she ignores you, walk on unless she is in absolute peril. I pause for polite chaps.
- You may have resting-Halloween-mask. Imagine you’re walking and see something gorgeous — a REAL DOLL. Now, hold your expression and check a mirror. I’m half-joking.
- Finally, in such fleeting meetings, don’t comment on her body grotesquely. If it’s something you’d say about your Mama’s best cooking, a pet, an athletic trophy or something you think when you walk past Victoria’s Secret – just don’t.
- What if you are so taken by her beauty, you simply must compliment her? “Excuse me, I just wanted to let you know I think you’re beautiful. Have a nice day.” And then walk away content you’ve let her know.
- The goal is not to get her number. The goal is to respect, be respected and perhaps open the door for conversation and future friendship or romance. Stop treating women like Happy Meal toys, begging for us only to break and discard us in under five minutes.
A few days later, in the early evening, I was out walking again. Another man approached with a similar swagger, asking how I was. I was prepared this time. Earbuds crammed in my ears, sunglasses on. I just pretended to not hear and study my phone. But I didn’t have music playing — I wanted to hear what dude said. “Aw, that’s how it is?! It’s all good, I ain’t even mad.”
Good to know, because it’s not your place to be offended. It’s mine. You, know what, meat-stick, let’s call it like it is. You “ain’t even embarrassed“. You “ain’t even remorseful“. But silly me, how could you be — you’re just sausage — you haven’t feelings…
…except that you do have feelings. So do my sisters and I. We’re not play-things, merchandise, punching bags or female dogs. We’re not to be used, abused, or mistreated any more than your boy bits are meant to be idiot handles or leashes or worse, mistaken for bacon and slightly burnt to a perfect crisp in my grandmother’s iron skillet!
Phew… good talk / rant. We’ve covered body parts, name-calling, and scaring females by addressing them inappropriately. Share at will.