sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
I had an unpleasant encounter a couple of weeks ago in Davis Square. I was angry about it for days, even though it takes longer to describe than it did to occur. I was walking to meet a friend at Porter Square Books, reading Nicholas Stuart Gray's The Apple-Stone (1965) while navigating around pedestrians, street signs, and parking meters; I was on the block of Elm Street between Amsterdam Falafelshop and Goodwill when I met a man coming the other way. We're not talking some kind of collision course. In keeping with the intermittent rules of American foot traffic, I was on the storefront side, while he was closer to the street, and it was a relatively clear stretch of sidewalk—specifically, he had no one on either side of him, which is how I know he did what he did deliberately. When we were just about a stride apart, he stepped directly into my path. It was like being body-checked. I had no time to dodge. I had to stop short or run into the chest of a total stranger who took up more space than I did and as I stood there on the bricks, he leaned forward and said into my ear, "Sorry about that, baby." And then he stepped around me and walked on. As creeper moves went, it was pretty brilliant. No touching, no profanity, deniable as all the best microaggressions, maximally gross. I wanted to yell after him, but it had been such a startling invasion of personal space that I had no idea how he would react: keep walking, turn around and curse me out, try to smash my face in. And I had a friend to meet. So I kept walking and was angry for several days.

Today, I was not having a good afternoon. I had left the house in plenty of time to get to my doctor's appointment in downtown Boston, but the bus had completely ghosted on me—it arrived both late and Not in Service, with no successor scheduled until well after the point at which I needed to have caught a train—and my efforts to pick up a taxi at the stand near the ex-Star Market came to nothing when the driver made eye contact with me and then drove away. I was going to be late if I walked to Sullivan Square, but I couldn't think of a better plan. So I was just passing the fire station on Broadway when I realized a male voice was shouting at me from the street. It took a moment to register: maybe it wasn't me he was shouting at, odds were against him shouting anything that would improve my mood. It was the driver of a municipal garbage truck. He was very definitely addressing me, because he smiled and repeated himself as soon as I saw him. What he was shouting was "I love your hair! It's awesome!"

So I shouted back, "Thank you!"

Dudes who whine that women's dwindling patience with street harassment means it is no longer possible to compliment a strange woman in public, please take note: it is completely possible, even during a five-second flyby at the wheel of a garbage truck. His comment was enthusiastic without being objectifying; it did not imply that I was put on this earth to be a sexual decoration or that I owed its author anything for his discernment in appreciating me as such; it was not anatomically involved. "Awesome" is not a carnal adjective. It was unexpected. It made me feel better.

And then a taxi went by me and I flagged it down and made the train and was not even late for my doctor's appointment.

After the appointment, I got a bagel with cream cheese and hot-smoked salmon belly from the Boston Smoked Fish Co. at the Boston Public Market and finished Jean Potts' Home Is the Prisoner (1960), of which I need to find a more permanent copy than this attractively pulp-covered but sadly disintegrating Berkeley pocket edition. After I got home, I spent the latter part of the afternoon lying on the couch with rotating shifts of cats and reading David Goodis' Dark Passage (1946), of which I need to find a print copy at all—I didn't expect to find a complete text freely available on the internet, but I'm not complaining. Now I want to rewatch the movie. (I am amused that the book stops exactly where I would have ended the adaptation, on a note of hope but no guarantees. Hollywood, of course, goes one happy ending further.)

[personal profile] spatch just got home, bringing me a pork-filled tamal from Tenoch, steamed in a banana leaf, with mole poblano on the side. I am going to ward off the cats—who got their own dinner an hour ago!—and enjoy how much less my evening appears to be sucking than the first half of my day.

P.S. [personal profile] selkie, that is indeed a fine and accurate translation. It's in the first person in the original Latin, so a working translation might look like "I'd rather my friends sucked me than my enemies face-fucked me," but it sounds more proverbial the other way.
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