I was driving to pick up my kid from her Cross Country practice. It was nice outside, but also fairly warm. I was a little sweaty, but I had the windows all down anyway. It was an uneventful drive until I got to a small four-way stop. As I pulled up to the stop, I saw two dudes walking half in the road. I think they were probably in high school, as one was carrying a ruler and I don’t know who would do that except a white trash teenager still in high school. Or a math scientist. These guys were definitely not math scientists.
As I approached the intersection, I decided to embrace my inner mediocre white man and refuse to move my car over. They could walk their red faces right into the grass, thanks. I expected them to yell as I passed, trying to startle me for not getting out of their way. Instead, one looked in my car and yelled, “Hello, Beautiful! How are you doing?” as I drove past them.
Was he being facetious? Does he know that he can even be facetious? I looked in my rearview mirror and the One Who Yelled was still eyeballing me and my Kia Soul (name: Han Soul-o). They kept walking and I made my turn.
Uneventful, yeah? Well, maybe I’m not being completely honest.
As I approached the intersection, I saw the two teens and got nervous. I was not lying about being a dick and not sharing the road with them, however. I did worry that One With The Ruler would smack the side of Han Soul-o and then I would have to slam the car into park and try to beat the shit out of them with their own arms, which I would rip off their body as a start.
That didn’t happen, but I had on my trusty sunglasses and was able to get a good look at the two guys without turning my head. Then One Who Yelled did just the thing I said. He yelled, “Hello, Beautiful! How are you doing?” I looked in the rearview mirror, fearful that my lack of response or even acknowledgement of the comment would lead them to now damage my car or possibly try to get in through one of the open windows. They didn’t and I made my turn.
As I drove away, the thought that I was lucky to avoid consequences stemming from ignoring the yell never occurred to me. I wondered if I should be ashamed that the teen thought I was beautiful. Then I thought that he was just being funny, yelling that at a clearly unattractive woman like myself. Then I thought that my hair was greasy, so did he find me attractive because I look like some disgusting garbage person and he was into that?
I picked up my kid and drove home. Then I started thinking again about how I shouldn’t even still be troubling myself with such a non-event. That I was not harassed, really. I was scared because of what has happened in the past when such a comment has been yelled, slurred, or randomly hurled at me and I ignored it. I’ve been harassed into blurting out my phone number just to be left alone. (When he called, I answered and said I wasn’t home.) I’ve been harassed for smiling at a man who gave me a compliment at work. I had to go to the store manager and threaten to get a lawyer before they would force the offending co-worker to resign. He had made up an entire relationship between the two of us that didn’t exist, complete with fabricated stories and nude drawings he had done. I’m guessing it was my face on his imagination, but he was still showing these things to co-workers and spreading lies. All because I accepted a compliment.
So you’ll excuse me if it feels like I’m making a huge deal out of nothing. In most cases, it is Something. Something that causes a woman to be fearful or to seek help or to do whatever she can to avoid escalating a situation she never wanted to be a part of just because she dared to be attractive to a random man.