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1) Tomatoes and bananas are indeed just as inexpensive at outdoor markets sometimes as they are at Publix and Publix never signed on to make sure tomato workers were safe in South Florida. Damn straight.
2) There are no Asian restaurants open before about 2pm on Sundays down here. Surely this would be different if we were in the more urban northeast, or definitely on the West Coast. But for as diverse as South Florida is, we are not the most idyllic place to be Asian, or to have a taste for Asian foods (like my husband who lived for a year in Vietnam). We went to a free Digital Underground show last night, with a number of Miami food trucks in attendance. That was pretty awesome, except for my husband’s inability to get the lo mein he so desired.
I guess we have to go to Orlando, where you can get GLORIOUS Asian food near Mills & 50, and lots of different types. Including the vegan-alicious Loving Hut (which also has its own traveling truck, and has for years). I really hope that development in Orlando never gets rid of those glorious places.
3) I think I had a priest compliment me today. We were walking to get some type of food, Asian or not, and a guy in some sort of religious gear said to me either “nice glasses” or “nice breasts”. I know that the fact that he was apparently a man of some kind of cloth doesn’t exempt him from being a perv, even on a Sunday (have you ever worked food service in a God-fearing town on Sundays? BONKERS). What made me relatively sure that he was complimenting my glasses was that we were in front of Java Boys, the most rainbow decked coffee shop I’ve ever witnessed.
As I’ve mentioned before, I could walk outside in my neighborhood stark naked and not be harassed. And I think unless you wear black leather and spikes to the club Ramrod, harassment in Wilton Manors proper is on the low side.
So was our Sunday morning jaunt about town.
One of the things I love deeply about living in Wilton Manors is that I never, ever, ever get harassed. Go deeper into straight-ville Bro-town Fort Lauderdale, and it’s all over the place. I was outside a bar called The Poorhouse (which has just somehow gotten into serving five star bar food…so many contradictions) this summer and some dude grabbed my ass in a walk-by. I shouted out as severe an obscenity as I could think of as loudly as I could down the street, but he probably still snickered as he walked away. Fucking asshole.
I wrote a few months ago about an odd fellow whose pick-up line in a Panera parking lot while I was on my lunch was “EXCUSE ME!” (Incidentally the same line I heard some dude yell in the Publix deli aisle as he was about to start a grocery store brawl – I was just trying to pick up fried chicken.)
But not only do I avoid harassment here, it seems, so does everyone else. All of the bars here make their intentions clear, whether they be Bear Bars or places with names like Ramrod, whatevs. But whatever happens indoors, it doesn’t lead out into the street.
One of the greatest mythologies that homophobes have, I think, is the idea that if they encounter someone who is gay, they’re going to get hit on and made uncomfortable. Having lived here, in the US city with the 2nd highest number of homosexuals per capita behind San Fransisco, for a year and a half, neither my husband or I have ever experienced anything remotely akin to this. I get hit on in creepy ways by straight men in lots of places, but neither of us is ever bothered here. I see women get hit on in compromising, uncomfortable ways all the time, but I don’t see anyone hitting on anyone uncomfortably out here.
Maybe it’s because the gay community knows what it’s like to be maligned, even bullied. But the streets of my small city are some of the safest places to walk at most times of either day or night, it seems. And not just in conventional ways.
I was reading this article a few days ago, and what I love the most about it is that the author brings up ways in which dudes can gather females’ attention without being creepy, stalk-y, and harass-y. One of the more important ones being of course, don’t touch her. (Re: earlier statement – just because my ass is big, whether I’m wearing something short & tight or not, does not mean it’s communal property. I have plenty of friends who I will freely permit to smack away. But I don’t know you from pig shit, so kindly back the fuck away.)
I have a couple more to add:
1. Smile. A smile from across the room is the simplest, most effective form of opening up communication. It’s an invitation to initiate conversation. And no, not in the Usher inspired “noticin’ you, noticin’ me” sort of manner.
2. Unless you meet at a fetish club/orgy party, sex talk can wait. At a coffee shop? Don’t make bad jokes about foam. At a bookstore? Leave out the “between the pages” talk. You get the drift. Don’t be a Casanova. Just be a person.
3. Compliment a conscientious detail of his/her style you like. “You have really cool glasses,” is obviously kind of a targeted line, but it works. Compliment something that you can tell the target of your affection picked out themselves. And yes, dudes, you can compliment a girl’s clothing choice without sounding gay, if you are needlessly worried about that. A dude I dated forever ago who is now one of my all-time ever best friends first caught my attention when he complimented my black and grey plaid corderoy pants.
4. Don’t be artificially nice, just be nice. I would advise from doing anything you feel that you can’t really keep up throughout the course of well, anything. Honesty is a good point to start from. Women, men, everyone is starving to meet people who are kind and who are also upfront.
5. Be thoughtful. Don’t reuse “techniques” or old lines. Think of something creative, but not too eager. And if someone wants to be left alone, as previously mentioned, take a hint. Sometimes women (or men or whoever) just want to be left alone. Sometimes people doing things individually are not starving for company. Sometimes they are eating on the way home from work while their husbands are in grad classes.
Just be cool. And maybe it’ll make the world at least a slightly more tolerable place.
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.