The White Shirt

I knew that the white shirt I was wearing was a pretty one. I knew because I had just worn it that weekend for the first time in a few years, and the weight that I’d dropped agreed with the new way that this shirt fit me. When I showed up to see my boyfriend wearing that shirt, his eyes got a little bigger and he said “That’s a nice shirt.” From him, that was the equivalent of screaming on top of a mountain “Holy shit-you look really hot.”

So I wore it a few times in a row. Sue me. Doing laundry when you don’t own your own washer and dryer is expensive and I wanted some mileage out of the shirt. On this particular day, I coupled it with my skinny jeans and great brown boots that had a manageable heel and little bit of attitude. And I gotta admit- it did make for an awesome outfit. I looked good. Normally, I look fine. That day I looked good. Really good.

Of course, it was the day my boss asked me to walk a few blocks to the post office to drop off some letters in the afternoon. No big deal. I actually love the excuse to walk somewhere in LA. It makes me feel like I’m back in Chicago again- except without all the stress of having to bring three change of clothing options for any possible weather pattern that may occur in the ten minute walk. So I headed out the door. Great outfit on.

Now keep in mind, this is Los Angeles- a city where women wear heels like sneakers. No…literally. High heels while going running or playing tennis. I know I’ve seen it. The heels are everywhere. And having on a good outfit is expected around these parts. I walked out with my hips a-swaying and my head held high.

So why, then, did I suddenly feel like I was the only female walking through a giant construction site filled with men who haven’t seen a woman in five years? It’s literally a six minute walk to the post office. Within the first minute, I’d been cat called. I was walking by a car repair shop located right next to my day job’s office and I could feel their eyes on me. My boss once suggested I go to this place for an oil change. I tried. I got the creepiest vibes ever and decided to drive 45 minutes one way to my regular shop instead. That’s how much I don’t like this repair shop.

Someone made a whistle sound with their mouth, and I knew I was the likely subject causing it. There was nobody else around and- even though I didn’t want to look over- I could feel the eyes. Another whistle and some laughs or grunts. I couldn’t tell the difference at this distance and I was sure as hell not going to look in their direction to find out. These men creep me out when they’re not looking at me, let alone when they are.

Why the whistle, anyway? Am I a bird that responds to a high-pitched mating noise? Has anyone ever actually responded to a cat call and started a meaningful relationship from it? Has anyone ever started any relationship at all because of it? What’s the point? I can only imagine that women who have extremely low self-esteem would ever respond to that type of interaction with any interest. And the types of women who would respond to that are certainly not the types that men like to have around- needy, insecure, unsure of themselves, constantly needing approval… you get the idea. So, really, no good can come out of that whistle. Why even do it then? I guess I’ll never know.

After the second whistle sound, which secured my notion that these men were- in fact- starting at me, I started to feel self-conscious. I suddenly didn’t know how to properly walk. Was I walking sexy before? Should I change up my walk? How can I somehow change up my walk to retain the confidence I have in myself yet get rid of the supposed sexiness that is causing all this attention in the first place? But I had to do it in a way that doesn’t change any part of my movement at all so as not to let them see that they’re affecting me at all. It’s impossible. Instead of worrying about it too much, I kept my hips a-swaying and my head held high. And I hold out hope that a woman in heels and a dress comes along soon to distract them. Surely this white shirt isn’t powerful enough to detract attention from a woman in heels and a dress. That’s like car repair shop cryptonite.

After pressing on and making it past the car repair shop, I had to cross a six lane street. Yes, I had a light, silly!  I’m not some superhero! If I were I would have just flown above the car repair shop, spit down on the workers so they wondered what hit them and flown away giggling before they could see that it was me!

The problem with crossing this street now is that I’ve already started to feel a little self conscious. I knew I looked pretty good, and those workers made me think I must look like a total babe, so now I had to walk across a line of cars who are stopped, staring forward, and have nothing else to do but watch the slow pedestrian in front of them.

Whatever. I keep my hips-a-swaying and my head held high. I finally make it to the post office. Normally, this would feel like punishment because it is the US Postal Service after all- the place where hope and dreams go to die. But on that particular day, it felt like a relief. With all the freaks and weirdos wandering around in and out of the post office (most of them employees), I could disappear into anonymity again. If you ever want to feel ignored, the post office is the place for you.

I headed inside. Just as I was about to open the door, a young man yelled something at me. He said, “Excuse me?” My hand on the door, I turned around.

I know better than to turn around. I’ve talked to enough weirdos and freaks in my life to know not to engage random people on the street. You very rarely meet a soulmate that way. But I can’t help it. I am, after all, born and raised in the midwest…so of course I turn around.

After living in major cities for a while, though, I have developed one protection mechanism. I have a totally annoyed look on my face. Creepy people hate it when you talk to them with an annoyed look on their face. They’re known for picking up on subtle human social cues. So I turn around, annoyed face, and answer, “Yeah?”

It was a young man who’s a few feet behind me. He’s walking fast to catch up to me. I kept my hand on the door as if to show how I’m clearly busy and on a mission. He said, without really looking up, “Can you do me a favor?” I knew there is no way in hell I’m going to do anything for this man. There’s absolutely nothing I will give him and there’s no way I’m going to be even mildly inconvenienced by him. I’m already giving like three extra seconds of my life to listen to him! Why would I give anything more?

I stood there waiting for him to tell me what the favor is. I didn’t even answer (because I’m such a badass!) but I kept standing there (because I’m such a pushover!). He said, “I just wondered if you could do me a favor… can you go on a date with me?”

For any of you out there thinking “OMG, how cute is that?” Let me first encourage you not to use text talk in your head. It’s very important that- at least in our mindthoughts- we don’t abbrev. If we abbrev everything all the time, we’ll forget what the original meaning before the text talk was. So, rethink that now, please.

For those of you now thinking “Oh my gosh, how cute is that?” Let me thank you for changing up that thought to be more complete, and then tell you a little back story.

About three months ago, when I was first training for my current day job, I went to a grocery store around the corner from the office with the girl who’s job I was taking over. It was a few days before she was moving across the country to be with her boyfriend and start a new life and family with him. When we walked into the grocery store, a young man approached her and said, “Excuse me? Can you do me a favor?” Michelle, the girl who’s job I now have, stopped and said, “What?” and the man looked coyly at her and said, “Uh, can you go on a date with me this weekend?” Michelle laughed and said, “No, I don’t think so.” I answered, “She’ll be across the country living with her very serious boyfriend hopefully fiance at that point so… she’s busy.” He walked away and went about his day. We did the same- after making fun of his “do me a favor” approach for a minute.

Fast forward, and there I was not far from where this original incident took place. And there’s kid asking me the same question in the same way it was previously asked who looks a lot like the guy who approached Michelle in the grocery store. Can I prove it was the same dude? No. I didn’t take a picture or do a sketch of his face afterwards. A picture would have been weird and a sketch would have made him look like every other sketch picture I make…a blob with disproportionate features. Plus…it would have certainly been a lot weirder if I had gone back to the office after the incident and started sketching down the face of this guy for posterity. Who does that?

Having said that, I’ve probably talked to enough creepers in my life that I am likely a person with at least a couple sketches of my face in some back alley box somebody is holding onto for posterity.

Anyway, back to the post office. Ugh. The post office. So gross. So grimey. So sad.

Sorry what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, outside the post office. The dude. And the favor. Which- let me just add- is a pathetic and not charming way of asking any woman out ever. Even if he lucked out and got some really altruistic woman to agree to a date, it would be out of literally doing him a favor. How sad. The whole thing would be out of pity. Not a good way to start. Then again, I’m sure the same woman who respond to cat calling may actually appreciate a man with low enough self esteem to ask for a date out of pity. I guess these people exist. The magic only has to work once.

I didn’t have the heart to both embarrass him by calling him out on using the same line on both me and my friend a few months ago and then rejecting him. So I just said, “No, I don’t think my boyfriend would like that very much.” And walked away. Which is a lie. My boyfriend wouldn’t care. Sure, he wouldn’t be really fond of the fact that I would say “yes” to dates with other guys. That’s obvious. I don’t mean that. I mean that he would not be threatened at all by a man who would be willing to approach a woman and ask her for a date as a “favor” without even really having the confidence to make eye contact. My boyfriend is one of those alpha males, you know. Confident. Aggressive. Few words. Tall. Intelligent. Handsome. Strong. Pure masculinity. Mmmmmm.

What?

Oh. Sorry. I went away for a minute. I’m back now.

Another reason the line I gave was a line was because that wasn’t my reason for rejecting him. Boyfriend aside… (aw man! Now I’m thinking about boyfriend again. Tall. Handsome. Mmmmm. I’ll be right back…)

Anyway! If there were no other outside factors keeping me from saying “yes” to this man, there’s still no way I would do it. Too pathetic. Too obvious. Too victim-y. Too weak. I would eat him alive. A guy like him coming up to a girl like me is like a gazelle wandering up to a hungry lioness asking directions to the shadiest spot in the safari. Many a gazelle has been killed that way. When will they ever learn? Come on, gazelles! Just get GPSes (GPSi?) already!

I walked away from the man- for his own good- and went to the post office to drop off my letters. And then started the long trek back. Yes, as I passed the car repair shop I heard more whistles. Yes. I counted. A total of five for the entire trip. Five whistles and one date proposal. That’s how nice this white shirt looked. Why did I count the whistles, you say? I am an actress, after all. I can’t pretend to not like attention.

Was it flattering? Truth be told, yes. It was very flattering. But I hated every moment of it. And I loved every moment of hating it. And I can’t wait to wear the shirt again and love hating every new moment of the attention it brings. I’ll wear it with a little heel to make my hips a-sway and keep my head held high. And I’ll disgustedly glare down any man who looks at me.

Ah, the complicated ways of we women.

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