sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-08-08 09:14 pm

But I've been sleepwalking so much, I don't remember dreaming

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.
choco_frosh: (Default)

[personal profile] choco_frosh 2017-08-09 01:56 am (UTC)(link)
a fine and accurate translation

asakiyume: (definitely definitely)

[personal profile] asakiyume 2017-08-09 02:20 am (UTC)(link)
You do have magnificent hair. I'm happy that someone knows how to compliment you on it not only in a non-assholic way, but in an actively good way.
jesse_the_k: harbor seal's head with caption "seal of approval" (Approval)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2017-08-11 04:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for sharing this.

I tend to offer this sort of complement when I'm in public--carefully avoiding the carnal adjectives--and I appreciate your reinforcing that it's not creeper behavior.
lilysea: Oracle (Oracle: wheelchair fighting)

[personal profile] lilysea 2017-08-09 02:38 am (UTC)(link)
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."

Urgh urgh urgh.

I am so sorry.

Christ, what an arsehole.

Edited (wrong icon) 2017-08-09 02:39 (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)

[personal profile] lilysea 2017-08-09 02:42 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, an appropriate compliment to a total stranger is one that would be appropriate for a man to give his mother/sister/aunt/grandmother/brother.

"That's a great dress!"

"That's an awesome backpack"

"I love how you've decoupaged your briefcase!"
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-08-09 02:52 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, and hair, dress, backpack, briefcase, &c &c., aren't body parts either. Well hair sort of is, but not as a wossname, secondary sexual characteristic.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-08-09 03:56 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, the whole thing about 'Can't a guy just compliment a woman anymore??' is, these aren't compliments -- they're demands, demands for the woman's attention and time, and a demand that she finds the guy fuckable. If this is denied, then it immediately flips around and the guy hurls the worst insult he can find -- that she's not fuckable. Whether or not she wants him to find her fuckable is beside the point. A compliment is like a social transaction.

This was a really good distillation
swan_tower: (Default)

[personal profile] swan_tower 2017-08-19 09:33 pm (UTC)(link)
A friend and I were at a concert once -- well, we were sitting out in the lobby of a concert, because we'd forgotten to bring earplugs and the lobby was the right place to be to enjoy the music without them -- and a guy demonstrated all the right ways to compliment strange women in public: he bopped over to us, halted a non-invasive distance away, crouched down so he wasn't looming over us, said "I just wanted to tell you that I love the skirts you're wearing!," and then after we said thank you, bopped cheerfully away. A++, would be complimented again. The attention to space and positioning helps; complimenting something that is distanced from the actual body helps; expressing admiration in a non-sexualized manner helps (i.e. there's a world of difference between "I love your skirt" and "you look great in that skirt").

It helped that I would lay cash money on him being gay, but a straight guy who pays attention to fashion could have done the same thing and it wouldn't have been creepy.
lilysea: Serious (Default)

[personal profile] lilysea 2017-08-09 04:12 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! ^_^

No, but mainly because I've never had a decoupaged briefcase! ^_^
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-08-09 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
I love how selkie has a #sonya tag for things just of that nature. And other neat things.

Someone described it well but the fucken wildfire haze gave me a headache so I can't remember it exactly -- but it's like the difference between someone demanding something from you, or taking something from you, and a gift. "You have beautiful hair" is on the gift side. Some dude demanding your space and attention either physically or verbally is not the same thing. Altho I can't think right now so that's probably not terribly convincing.
selkie: (Default)

[personal profile] selkie 2017-08-09 06:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, since LJ fell to the communists, or the opposite thereof, there has to be a place to put the internets one finds. I try to be discerning. I have failed at being apolitical.

If you're going to walk around Boston you need a really good hex for people. Clearly. Something with boils.
ethelmay: (Default)

[personal profile] ethelmay 2017-08-09 04:41 am (UTC)(link)
I have occasionally had a statement directed at me that could have been a gift by its phrasing, but in fact was deployed as a method of demanding my attention. That I don't care for.
ethelmay: (Default)

[personal profile] ethelmay 2017-08-09 06:33 pm (UTC)(link)
But the scenario first described above involved a "compliment" like "nice ass," which I think most people perceive as inherently aggressive coming from a stranger. I was proposing that even a compliment that could be a pleasant one under other circumstances could be, for instance, yelled almost unintelligibly out a car window to make one jump, or said in an unpleasantly meaning tone, etc. The distinction is perhaps not very important.
ladymondegreen: (Hair)

[personal profile] ladymondegreen 2017-08-09 03:42 am (UTC)(link)
I am glad the scales have balanced a bit from that first repulsive encounter. Also that there are positives like salmon belly, books, cats and especially [personal profile] spatch.
gwynnega: (Default)

[personal profile] gwynnega 2017-08-09 04:10 am (UTC)(link)
It never occurred to me that Dark Passage was adapted from a book, but of course it makes complete sense that it would have been.
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)

[personal profile] julian 2017-08-09 04:23 am (UTC)(link)
A) what a freakin' jerk.

B) Hey, good compliment, compliment giver!

C) now I want Boston Fish Market's bluefish pate thing. Next week, perhaps.
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)

[personal profile] starlady 2017-08-09 05:17 am (UTC)(link)
What an asshole.
cmcmck: (Default)

[personal profile] cmcmck 2017-08-09 07:22 am (UTC)(link)
Maybe it's something about dustcart crews?

I remember being amused by a poster on one in Paris and when I lined up to take a shot of it as it went past, the guys pulled the truck to a better spot and all piled out to line up alongside while I got the pic of it and them.

Made my day- although that isn't difficult in Paris! :o)
lost_spook: (Default)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-08-09 08:51 am (UTC)(link)
I'm glad you had the second encounter to at least balance at the former a little. (But, urgh, nevertheless. /o\)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

[personal profile] davidgillon 2017-08-09 02:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Grrr! on the arsehole.

The dynamics are different with sexes reversed, but I had something similar, bar the sexual overtone, a couple of years ago. There's a spot on Rochester High Street where the pavement widens to about 20 feet, and as I got to there, wheeling in the chair on the road side, the only other person anywhere around was a young woman coming the other way on the shop side - so about 15 feet between us. She deliberately cut diagonally across the full width of the footpath in order to force me to change direction, then carried on the way she had been going. Arsehole.

And your hair is awesome.
Edited 2017-08-09 14:41 (UTC)
sporky_rat: A setting sun cloudscape with sunrays through broken clouds (gonna explode into millions of sky dust)

[personal profile] sporky_rat 2017-08-09 03:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I have always found the garbage truck folks to be pretty decent. Good to see it's not just around here!
lillibet: (Default)

[personal profile] lillibet 2017-08-10 02:59 am (UTC)(link)
Wanted to offer solidarity for the confusion and rage of those awful moments. Hope it doesn't longer long.