Catcalls: Dos and Don’ts

August 20, 2008 at 1:45 pm 7 comments

We’ve touched on this subject before, but in the past couple days I’ve had two experiences which exemplify the best and worst of on-the-street come-ons.


I was headed to the subway stop in my neighborhood, waiting at a crosswalk. A guy steps past me, hissing, “Blanca como leche.” He then proceeded to stand right next to me, also waiting for the light to change. He shot me a few sidelong glances, seeing if I would react.

First of all, I had to assume he thought I didn’t understand Spanish. The truth is, most of the time I probably don’t. My last Spanish class was 4 years ago, and I’ve only had a few opportunities to exercise what I remember of it. However, my rudimentary skillz were more than enough to immediately understand his comment. I wanted to let him know I understood what he said, but regardless of the language, there’s nothing a person really CAN say to that comment. “Yes, I am pasty almost to the point of translucency, thank you for your observation”? I had to remain completely impassive until the light changed and I could escape across the street. Not only did I have to put up with an oddly creepy comment, but I had no way to indicate that I even understood what he said, adding an extra layer of awkwardness.


On my way to work, I passed a construction site. Construction workers are notorious cat-callers for a reason. It’s pretty much impossible to walk by without some kind of comment. One of the guys was directing traffic at the corner where I cross, and as I passed, he said, “Your hair looks really nice that way!” This is probably the best way to compliment someone’s appearance without being lewd, and it gives the impression that you pay attention to them, even if you’ve never seen them before. It was polite and friendly and a welcome self-esteem booster. There was nothing I could do but respond with a friendly smile and a “Thank you!” Well done, anonymous construction worker. You raise the bar for men who shout things at women on the street everywhere.


Entry filed under: Betty, Miscellaneous Musings. Tags: , , .

Summer 2008: Open Invitation Justin Theroux

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joe  |  August 20, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Oh! oh! I spotted it: backdoor bragging!

  • 2. Betty  |  August 20, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Nope, actually just an excuse to post that Ron Jeremy picture.

  • 3. parkrangerolivia  |  August 20, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    last week I got an earnest “how ARE you?”

  • 4. Miranda  |  August 20, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I am so torn over this all the time. like, i feel really sad and gross when i get cat-called or clicked or hissed at but on the day i don’t get catcalled outside the shewin-williams is probably the day i’ll feel the way blanche deveraux did when she found out she was going through menopause.

    also, the most memorable lately was at the bodega, i was buying some ramen and these three guys are saying stuff like “hey girl, why you buyin that, let me take you out, somewhere nice, let me get your number” and the whole time i am ignoring them and completing the transaction with charlie, the owner. charlie is the nicest human being on the planet, a 50ish mousatchiod man from san bruno who pretty much lives in the store with his younger brother louis. anyway, i come back two days later for something else and charlie, who looked pretty chagrined last time i was there ,says that after i left he told those guys to never come back and apologized that it happened in the first place. “i just didn’t want to start anything in front of a lady.” charlie is basically my grandpa with an accent but wow i swooned.

    also also, my first thought was that that picture was of saddam after he got outta the rat-hole or whatever. hilarious.

  • 5. Betty  |  August 20, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    That story is adorable. That sounds like the greatest bodega ever!

  • 6. Tim Cameron  |  August 21, 2008 at 2:43 am

    Ladies, I just want you to know that if you’re bored tonight, there happens to be a party going on. In my PANTS.

    It’s horrible. Someone just stubbed out a cigarette on my junk, and there are kids making out halfway up my butt.

    I should never have announced it on Crotchbook.

  • 7. Seresecros  |  August 29, 2008 at 8:43 am

    I can’t even whistle, which makes catcallign awkward for me. I usually just blow a raspberry at girls I like instead.

    It barely ever works.


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