Advice to straight men: don’t do a woman a favor and then expect that you are owed a flirtation in return.
I think that’s what just happened to me in the grocery store.
Two lessons for the dude behind me here: 1) never underestimate a somewhat slight, pale girl in glasses buying a 12-pack of beer on a Monday evening.
2) kindness is not necessarily flirting. Neither is smiling. I know it seems bizarro, but some people are actually just nice. Some people believe in the niceness of others.
And just because a woman is taken doesn’t mean she stays at home all the time and waits for her husband to go out to buy groceries with her. Oh, for heaven’s sake! Maybe I should just go to the store and buy beer myself! I tire of waiting politely at the dining room table, apron on, for my Knight in Shining Armor to come riding home, briefcase in hand.
I am grateful though, for some of our society’s cultural norms.
I was leaving my summer job this summer (natch) and grabbed lunch at Panera in some strip mall. Heading outside, I heard some guy yelling “EXCUSE ME!” The last time I’d heard that sort of cadence of someone yelling as such, I was in another Publix and saw a cart go flying down the deli aisle. Some dude was about to start some shit with another dude in the cold cuts line. Eeek!
So the “EXCUSE ME” followed as I walked, and I don’t start shit with anyone (ever, not even last week when I got rear-ended – I hugged the dude as he blubbered apologies) so I kept walking. He couldn’t possibly be yelling at me. And then everyone else cleared out, and I still heard “EXCUSE ME!”
It had to be directed at me. Damnit.
So I turned around, luckily leading with my left side, and then heard, “Oh, I’m sorry, I was going to call for you, but I see you gotta ring.”
You’re damn right I do, fella. And even if I didn’t, what makes you think that shouting at me in a strip mall parking lot when I’m walking as though I have somewhere to be is going to stop me in my tracks?
I laughed it off and told T-storm later. He thought it was pretty funny, and said about the ring, “So it’s like your talisman.” Yes. It totally is.
But seriously. I’m not telling guys that they shouldn’t pursue women where they please. Or maybe I am. If you’re sitting next to her in a bar and you quietly say hello, then okay. But if she’s got her arms full of stuff and is swinging her keys in the air, then leave the lady alone – she has to go back to work, or buy some cardstock or do something else. Or check her stock portfolio. Or go run a 10k. Maybe when I was 16 and had no effing clue what I was doing, public displays of being hit on were more appealing.
Now I’m old and (almost) married and I just want to go about my day. Or I want to buy oh-so-craved milk and cookies at the gas station without the cashier asking me if I’ve got a sweetie. (That happened this summer, too, when T-storm was outside pumping gas.)
This is part of why I love living in a gay neighborhood. I have taken to wearing way more short shorts and way fewer bras since moving here, mostly because no one gives two shits what I wear. I don’t do it to be skanky, I do it because that’s what’s lying on the floor and that’s what I have been sitting around my apartment in. I’m not going to put on a burqua to change the laundry out, or take out the recycling. My neighbors are sweet as pie to me. That whole fear of being objectified is so not one little tiny bit an issue in Wilton Manors, and that thrills me to my core.
Let’s settle it – I’m not telling men how to hit on women. Where to hit on women. Certain things cross the line, yes. Big time. And barista boy, I guess you’ll never know if the cutie getting the Rooibos latte is single unless you make an inquiry.
But how well does that really work? I mean, really? I suppose some women find it endearing, but most women would just rather be left alone while ordering tea.
Opening doors, kind. Okay. Minor compliments, i.e. “you look very pretty,” okay (although more likely to come from my neighbors). Although I am always cordial, almost to a fault, I don’t owe anyone anything for their kindness.
Insisting that I put down my beer ahead of your jug o’ wine in the express lane, and then looking eagerly to initiate more conversation. You know, that hungry, “I did this for you, now what are you gonna do for me?” look.
*I read way too much Jezebel anyway, and it’s been littered with glorious 90s references lately. As has everything else I’ve encountered. Thank you for the indulgence.