Thursday, July 8, 2010

Just don't say "Hello."

I would be lying if I said I wasn't flattered when I walk the streets of Harlem and my mere presence passing a man evokes a smile; a "God bless you Sister"; and my favorite, "You get home safe now." Old men and young men, hoodboogers and business men alike will stop mid-sentence and break their necks to see me pass. I'm not quite sure what it is about seeing a young woman pass that makes scruffy-young-dude-with-his-pants-hanging-off-his-behind-and-seems-like-he-never-been-inside-a-church-a-day-in-his-life say "God bless you" but he does, and I usually blush and smile.

But every comment I get isn't so tame or respectful. In fact, I'd venture to say that two-thirds of the time comments are either wildly cheesy or wildly out of line.
"You make me so disappointed in myself... Disappointed that I'm not walking down the street with you." 
"Ooo girl, I want my baby in your stomach." 
Yes, somebody really said this stuff to me. Yet, I have learned that these comments can be kept to a minimum or all together avoided by simply ignoring the baiting "Hello." I had to learn the hard way that responding to "Hello" (or the like) opens the door for any and all kinds of ridiculousness to ensue. Cue the old man mack at the grocery store today.
Him: You are so beautiful.
Me: Thank you. Moments later.
Him: Have a wonderful day.
Me: smile. You too. (MISTAKE made.)
Him: runs after me. May I ask what this beautiful flower's name is? Because you know I think all women are just like flowers. They bloom and open up like the lillies, orchids, roses... Would it be imposing if I asked you to lunch or dinner? 
Me: Yes.
Him: Do you have a boyfriend? 
Me: The only safe answer: Yes.
Him: I hope he treats this beautiful flower well.
True, today's incident wasn't so bad (just corny as hell), but if I had just kept walking and pretended I didn't hear him I could have avoided a 55+ year old grocery store worker hitting on me. The thing is, passing someone on the street and ignoring them when they speak goes against my instinct and my home-training. According to my daddy, you ALWAYS speak. But Daddy, lemme tell you, NOT IN NEW YORK!

The dilemma is this: If I speak, then I may become unwillingly detained as they start talkin' crazy, and I am left nodding, making awkward faces and plotting my immediate escape.  If I don't speak, then I scurry down the street fast as my little legs can take me and hope my ears don't get raped in the process. Ignoring the offenders usually gets me called stuck up and a few other things my mama didn't name me, but I still pretty much always take my chances with the latter option. Writer and blogger Sister Toldja put it best in her tweets this afternoon (@sistertoldja):

Yes, Roscoe, its true. I am not trying to stop and chat with you. I bet if I looked dirty, you'd feel the same way about me.
It's amazing how astounded some of these dudes get when you don't want to talk to them on the street. False sense of entitlement much?

    I whole-heartedly agree. I mean, I guess I can't hate on a brotha for trying, but don't you see how briskly I'm walking? It means I have some place to be, not here listening to your weak game. AND how dare you get mad at me when I don't express interest in you? Isn't that my right?



Kelli With An I said...

What do you mean your rights! You're a woman and if you harm the ego of a man you deserve a fate worse than death! lol Good blog, I understand compeltely, I met the most obnoxious men in NY. That's where I learned my "head down, cellphone to ear, I'm in a REAL good conversation" look to avert crazy men tryna hollahollahollaholllalemmehollaatcha! lmao

Unknown said...

As a gentleman, I do find it slightly offensive when my hello is blatantly ignored by anyone, especially a female.

As a southerner, I definitely have been baptized in the doctrine of "speaking when spoken to." Then again, I understand New York is quite different.

Most of the time, it only takes a millisecond to decipher whether or not someone has the time or is willing to talk to you and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at judging between the two.

I do realize, however, that everyone does not have the same good sense or manners to not push their luck. It's truly a catch-22.

I will say that you've given me something to think about the next time my ego takes a hit when a female, especially an attractive one, decides not to speak. Good stuff!

Sydnie Mosley said...

@sjg8504 your ego should never take a hit when a woman doesn't respond on the street. It's not about you, it's about self defense on her part. She's just trying to get from point A to point B, safe, sound and unbothered. I'm this was an eye opener for you.


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