I’ve never been catcalled before, at least in the traditional sense. But yesterday I’d say I was non-sexually catcalled.
I’m at an intersection, waiting on a walk signal. It’s a shade under 60 degrees. A little cold, a little windy. I’m wearing an Under Armour t-shirt and khaki shorts. These details will matter later.
A guy approaches me on my left. “Yeah, spring isn’t here yet.” He nods towards my shorts. “It’s just not happening.”
I’m taken aback by this. I look at the guy and after the briefest of mental scans realize I don’t know him. Then I examine his statement. “Spring isn’t here yet.” I’m confused at first, but realize he’s commenting on my choice of attire. I can’t figure out why anyone would comment on a stranger’s clothes, but whatever. It seemed innocuous enough.
“Yeah,” I chuckle. I then say, “Well, hopefully soon!” in that tone of voice you use to be friendly yet also give the impression that you want this interaction to conclude as quickly as possible.
“Nah,” he replied, “It’s just not happening yet.” Then he followed me, pace for pace, through the intersection. I had to invent a reason in my head to justify ducking into a Duane Reade to lose him.
What’s going on here? I like to think the best of people, but I can’t come up with a logical reasoning for him saying this to me then being emphatic about it. The best I could come up with is that he is in fact a pants salesmen out looking for shivering marks in shorts. “Mike I can tell by the item covering your legs you thought it was going to be warm today, but guess again! You’re in luck though, as I’m offering a special on these custom made pants that go ALL THE WAY DOWN to your leg! It’s a bogo deal! The brand name is ‘Weird Guy Who Talks to Strangers’ Jeans!”
Also I didn’t get why he had such a condescending tone. Almost accusatory. He seems like the type of prick to go up to people without umbrellas in a thunderstorm. “Hey bro? So this ‘not having rain’ weather? NOT HAPPENING. You are stupid for not being prepared and deserve to be made to feel stupid. Luckily for you, along with the pants I sell, ‘Weird Guy Who Talks to Strangers’ Jeans has expanded its brand to include umbrellas as well. I’m offering a deal: buy one pair of jeans, get an umbrella half off.”
Then he hands the guy a hard with his company’s tagline:
“Weird Guy Who Talks to Strangers Jeans: We Figure Out What Item of Clothing You Need and Don’t Have, Ridicule You For Not Having It, Then Try to Sell it to You!”
Oh and to close the loop on the whole “inventing a reason to duck into Duane Read: I ended up trying the new white chocolate M&M’s, which were a revelation. So I guess I owe the weird weather-shorts-comment guy a debt of gratitude. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t know how the 20th-released off-brand M&M flavor would taste.