I was taking the train to dance class last Monday. It was a basic medium hot Los Angeles day, and the train stop is about half a mile from my apartment. I like to walk. Now, seeing as LA seems to like to not have trees appropriately planted along their sidewalks (they settled for palm trees but that's another rant), I was getting smacked in the face with the desert sun. Still, walking and jamming to Sam Cooke on the iPhone made the ten minutes to the train breeze by.
That's what I could have used, a breeze. I was 'glowing' to use a word. As I get down to the subway terminal, I pull out my hankie and blot my face. This man, I use that term loosely, comes up to me and says, "You're sweating? You should get your blood pressure checked." I had my headphones in, so I took one out. I only pop one out when I don't really want to talk to someone and I said 'excuse me', because I didn't hear him. He repeated himself.
He was an older man. Tall, skinny, my complexion. Kind of a caramel Snoop Dog, who looked hispanic. He reminded me of a soggy cigarette, as in he looked used and haggard. He was about 50ish and had no regard for personal space. I don't think he was a bad person, just an ignorant one and I didn't feel threatened, not at 6 in the evening surrounded by other people waiting for the train at least.
He kept talking, but I really was not listening. I was polite and some of the stuff he said was funny. More smile and not funny. I'd smile at him, but I learned you don't ask questions to people who engage you like this. They will never shut up. He went on to give a candid synopsis of his life: wives, kids, gang, shot, jail, etc. I had put my head phone back in two times and he still kept talking.
"Yeah, as big as you are, you should have your blood pressure checked. You should not be sweating. But you are young, and fine..." I had put my head phones in again. He tapped my shoulder and then began to comment on my lady parts. Now again, someone else might have been freaked out, but he totally meant it as a compliment. Ghetto thug poetry, if you will. Still, it was way over the line, especially since that was the second time. I began to step away.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said, smiling. "I'm just keeping it real, you're fine."
To which I said quite bluntly, "You can still be polite and 'keep it real'. I put in my headphones and walked down the platform.
Now, you might be horrified by that situation, and I can see why, but I shit you not, this happens to me at least once every 4 to 6 months. Older used up and gross men coming up to me and saying basically, "You're fat, but I'd still sleep with you." Gee, I feel so special being considered sloppy seconds by someone who is and I can say this with all certainty, beneath me.
This does not count the numbers of homeless men who make passes at me. That floors me. A friend said, 'they do it because it's not like they have something to lose,' but come on!? If it were a cat call like they do to the women they KNOW they have no shot with, I can perhaps grasp it, but some of these 'men' have walked up and just said the nastiest stuff. What am I, a skank magnet?
When I lived in San Francisco a few years ago, a homeless man followed me to the front of my building saying how he'd like to take me to a hotel room and just...(I think I just threw up a little). Thanks for the offer homeless man who smells like his own excrement and is so smiley with brown and missing teeth, but I think I'll pass, far, far away. I didn't feel scared, or threatened, I mean, how can you? It was sad mostly. I just looked at him as you would a child having a tantrum. I mean, what else can you do with that? I guess I fit a physical stereotype that seems to be quite strong out here.
Are bottom feeders all I attract?
The sad thing is, I never get approached by my peers. I don't physically fit the type who would be interested in the things I'm interested in (see my blogger description). I get that. I've understood that my whole life. When I see people out and about, I tend to look at them as a whole to grasp the type of person I think they *might* be. How they hold themselves, how they are dressed, how their hair is arranged, how does their skin look, are they smiling, what are they carrying, personal effects, etc. In a totally visual first encounter, that's all I have to work with. I can see some hipster dressed young people and might think, 'huh, they might be cool,' but people look at me, and I assume they don't look at the nuanced persona I display like I do with them. What kills me even more is it's not as if it is something that you can change about someone.
I know, I'm asking too much of the human race. :)
I forgot to tell you guys about the old African man who approached me at the grocery last month and told me God said he could tell me I was beautiful and that only God would tell him to say that to a woman if she were meant to be his 'Queen'.
Now, I have no idea what this queendom would entail, but I just smiled and nodded as he chatted me up for nearly 20 min. He even told me how he met Halie Barry and didn't say *she* was beautiful, but that I was. Again, I feel so special.