Monday, February 2, 2015

"Yo! I Could Getcho Numbah?"

When I was a teenager, my mom claimed I would someday long for the catcalls and leering eyeballs of strange men and boys on the street. "No one hollers or looks at ME anymore," my gray-haired mother told me wistfully. "I'm too OLD!"

I have to say, this is one pearl of motherly wisdom that's failed to ripen in life's oyster for me. I can't say I miss the sort of catcalling that would routinely befall my ears from ages 15 to 25, on the way to school, on the subway, or on the streets of New York City--directed at me and my friends. 

There was a playground construction zone that was rife for the catcalls right on the path two friends and I took to school every day. Some of the workers' statements were nothing short of hilarious, awkward, and grammatically preposterous. And somewhere in another borough, a different friend reported that she heard, "Yo! I could getcho numbah?" And "Hey, wanna french?" as actual propositions made to her on the stoop of a brownstone and in a college dormitory.

For my own part (and as I have mentioned earlier), a guy sitting next to me in law school once asked me if Joan Baez and Bob Dylan were my parents, and the following day arrived with a Bob Dylan CD in hand. A different guy in law school noticed I liked to chew a certain brand of gum, and one day handed me a stick of it with a wink and the statement uttered in a thick Brooklyn brogue: "Hey ... Big Red ... it's yah favorite, right?" And once on the subway, a hipster in a fedora tried to make me go see his band. I told him I was on my way to a Halloween party with my boyfriend, who was dressed as Michael Moore. I gestured to my boyfriend and the hipster said disdainfully, "Who? Michael Moore over there? Ugh!" 

These were only slightly less successful than the dudes in college who tried to impress women with their sensitivity by working for a rape crisis hotline and listening to Ani DiFranco. (Wolves in sheep's clothing, all).

Anyway, there's been much ado lately about public spaces and how wrong it is that women are subjected to sneering, leering, and jeering. I want to join in the chorus of indignity, but I feel that doing so would be hypocritical. 

That's because on the very same route to school I mentioned above, my friends and I would pass by the local FDNY fire station and absolutely SCREAM inappropriate cat-calls at the uniformed firefighters, at the top of our teenage lungs, like: "HEY BABY, I'M ON FIRE! COME PUT OUT MY FIRE!" and "LEMME SLIDE DOWN YOUR POLE!" and "MY PUSSY IS UP A TREE! COME RESCUE MY PUSSY FROM UP IN THIS TREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!" 

You know. Stuff like that.

Well, actually. Let me clarify that I didn't PERSONALLY say any of these things. Several of my "friends" did though, and you know, it's guilt by association. So I feel it would be unfair to take a stand against public cat-calling now.

Don't you agree?


  1. Libby, I just came across your blog. Hilarious, please keep it up. I totally know who you're talking about re: rape crisis hotline and Ani ... hope you are well! Jaclyn xo

  2. Agreed, hilarious and please keep it up. It is where I come to laugh and laugh.


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