Cat calling

"Ay, mami"

It's been a while since I was cat-called on the street, probably because I don't walk very much here. It's hard to be cat-called when you're behind the wheel of a car. I had sort of forgotten what it was like. (In case you are wondering, it is not shiny.)

This is sort of funny in light of the story a woman I know told me recently: Her work puts her contact with the public a lot. A while ago, a client at her workplace said some inappropriate things about the boots she was wearing and what they signified about her. When she went to her supervisor, looking for some support, she was told she "should just hold on and ignore this kind of thing," because once she's 40 "it won't happen anymore." Yeah.

Today I was waiting to cross the street in Shaker Square. A man approaching me from behind called out "You sure do look nice in those jeans." I ignored him. He said it again. When he got to the corner, he said, "Did you hear me? Did you? I said you look nice in those jeans." I still ignored him. To say anything would be to say the wrong thing. And then he proceeded to mock up a little conversation. "'You look nice in those jeans.' 'Why, thank you.' Ha ha. You could say thank you." This is when I started to feel threatened. I didn't really care about the first comment, but now I was about to cross the street and turn onto a less traveled road. Was he angry enough to follow me?

Turns out, he just cracked himself up and he walked off in the other direction, but I was doing the mental map of how to adjust my route, where would be safe to walk and where to go if he followed me.

When I lived in New York, the Dominican men in Washington Heights had a regular patter. "Ay, mami," they would call. "You are so beautiful. I want to marry you." "Ay, mami. I want to make love to you." My friend Andrea and I took to calling each other Mami as a regular salutation.

As a pre-teen, I can remember wearing short shorts and being excited to have guys call to me from cars. It seemed like a new found power. But there is not really very much power in being a 12-year-old in cut-offs sexually objectified by some 23-year-old in a Camaro. Yet, this is part of the way girls learn about themselves as sexual beings. This is what scares me about being a mother.

The best cat call I ever was on the receiving end of was not really a "call" at all. I was walking down a street in the West 80s in Manhattan, heading towards Riverside Park. I have no idea what I was wearing, not that it matters. I think I was on my lunch break or had just gotten off work (I worked at Shakespeare and Co., which is no more, at least not in that neighborhood). A car pulled up to me and rolled down the passenger side window. It was so deliberate, I almost thought the person inside was going to ask me for directions. I kept my distance but I did glance over, ready to be a good samaritan. The driver leaned over and said, ever so politely, "Nice chest, miss."

Reading: Yes.

Writing: Yes! Thursday started with a great writing session. Unfortunately, the positive mood that created didn't hold. Very frustrated with the imperfections of humanity today. Which does go along with some of my characters, so maybe this is just method writing.

Dinner: Wednesday night kids cook was chicken skewers (marinated chicken, red onion, red bell pepper), rice, and box salad. This was one that took a lot of adult aid, but they did as much of it as they could. Z is starting to learn knife skills.

Tonight, I made ginger lentil soup, in quantity. Hoping to take a bunch to a friend who just had twins.

Soundtrack: Which version of "Road Runner" (the Bo Diddley song, not Jonathan Richman's, although that is a most excellent song, too) is best?

Random thing: I like how the birds are getting louder in the morning.


  1. My best catcall story came from when I was still in my 20s. I was carrying a bunch of files from the office down to the courtroom. Some dude assumed I was a secretarial type and was following me doing the "BABY! Nice skirt/shoes" (whatever) thing. And he followed me into the courtroom where he in very short ordered figured out I was in fact a prosecutor. It was astonishing how quickly "baby" turned to "ma'am." It was a funny story but it again illustrates that these things are about power. He wasn't the brightest bulb but in his mind he knew that this wasn't behavior he could exhibit toward someone who had some say over what was about to happen in his life. It's disgusting that he thought he could act that way toward "some random chick."


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