Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Art of Picking Up ... cat food

Gorgeous! c. 1985
I'm buying cat food.

And this guy asks me, "So, do you have cats?"

"Yes,"  I decide to humor him.  I'm grocery shopping and what I want to say is, "Why the f*** are you talking to me?"  But then I think, in theory, I really like a conversational, personal society where we interact like humans should, even flirt a little, from time to time, if called upon to do so.  
"I have 152 cats."

He stares then says, "No you don't."

I laugh, "You're right.  I actually don't have cats at all, but I have this really great coupon for cat food."

And he stares at me. 

And so I say, "Well, now that I look at the coupon, it's not that great.  It's a cheap coupon, one of those, 'spend $100, get 50cents off' deals.  Makes me feel cheap, you know?"

And he stares.  So I say, "I have two. Cats."

And this fits his expectations and he asks, "What kinds?"
 "Kinds that don't get along." 

Sena and Lewis Stremler c. 1950 BC
I was being silly and I thought I was being funny.  And although it probably wasn't something you'd buy tickets to at a comedy club, they were passable jokes. Right? But this man reacted like a squirrel in Prius head-lights. And I wanted to take him by the hand, sit him down, and warn him about the facts of life:
1) when you strike up a conversation with a random woman at the grocery store, you kind of need to be ready for anything.
2)  If you are trying to hit on me, or some such non-sense, you should be so nervous that whatever comes out of my mouth with a lilt, should have you exploding with nervous laughter.  The quickest way into a gal's pants is to laugh at her jokes, even nervously. This is why Huck and I are still together, because he laughs so hard he cries at the drop of one of my mid-quality one-liners.  Listen, random dude, I am talking to you out of the sweetness of my open soul to humor you and you are such an A**hat, you really can't humor me in return?
3) This might have worked out if I'd been a "dog"-woman, but I'm a "cat" woman; we don't do as we're told, we don't fulfill expectations, and we don't dumb it down.

And lesson #4) Don't try to pick me up. 
A) I don't like it. I am grocery shopping, not sitting on a bar stool looking forlorn and bored. I am usually wearing barn pants, crap-covered barn shoes, and frequently, a baseball cap pulled low over my eyes so I don't have to look you guys in the eyes. This outfit is not a subtle cue that I am desperate, it is a clear indication that I don't care what you think.  
B) It's pointless, unless it's funny. I am mostly happily married, although realistically some days I am annoyedly married and some days I might even be boredly married, but it's mostly happy. I'm not jumping ship for some unlabeled can-o-man I found at the corner store.
C) It confuses me.  I can't figure out what is going on half the time. For one, I don't perceive myself as being all that pretty.  I still have the ugly little kid I grew up as inside, so I'm always surprised and suspicious when hit on.  Huck has me because he had the clarity and boldness I needed to hear.  And also, he threatened to beat up a guy horning in on us on the dance floor.  (I know!  I know! screaming red warning lights of a jealous, violent type! But he clearly wasn't and the thing is, I'd never had a date willing to risk personal safety in order to keep hanging out with me, and in this very primitive way I found it irresistibly attractive.  That is how I knew he really meant it.)

Freda and Ed Roosma Dec 6, 1946
Of the many examples of my confusion in the face of overtures, a few stand out as striking: The mixed U2 love songs tape: "Thanks!  I love U2!  How thoughtful!"  I don't want to sound arrogant, but I've since concluded that the boy probably liked me. 
A gazebo in the middle of the lake, which was, Surprise!  set with all my favorite foods when we arrived.  What a kind friend! 
"Have you seen the new Batman movie?"
"Are you going to see it?"
"I don't know."
My coworker asked later, "Has he asked you out yet?"
"No, but he was asking about that Batman movie a lot." Turns out she'd done some very bad coaching with him on how to ask me out.
Lets fix that right now.
How to Ask a Girl Out 101: "Would you like to see the new Batman movie with me this weekend?"  But honestly, I probably still wouldn't get it.

In Mexico, they were really clear and really not serious about any of it.  As I would walk to work along the boardwalk, the line of taxi drivers would say things like, "Nice Mango!"  because I'd usually be eating a mango on my way to work, and at first I might say something like, "Thanks! I got it at the market on 5th," but as I gained experience I might say, "Thanks! I got it at the market on 5th" AND wink. Mexico taught me to enjoy a little fun enhanced by the fact that it obviously wasn't going anywhere.

But when someone whistled, it would annoy the hell out of me because I'd be waltzing along, fully engrossed in my own mind, and someone would jolt me out of it with this shrillness, and suddenly I would be plunged in to self-consciousness: what am I wearing? why are they whistling? Am I in danger? Suck in your gut, girl, all the world's a stage!  And I resented it.  I am not here to entertain, or please or amuse. I am just being alive for the glorious sake of being alive. It doesn't really have anything to do with you guys and my sense of purpose and meaning is in no way buttressed by the fact that you have seen yet another female (me) who's mango you like.

Men are not all that picky.  Their appreciative glances are about has hard to earn and highly prized as french fries, not the gold medals they seem to think they are bestowing.  Having seen Pretty Woman at an impressionable age, I thought that if a man thought you were hot, that meant you were as gorgeous as Julia Roberts.  But then, I saw a real working woman and although she was a full fledged human with a beautiful soul somewhere inside, she was no Julia Roberts.  And then I realized how picky men aren't.  Huck being attracted to me did not impress, but Huck willing to risk something to be with me, now that was something worth looking in to.

Huck and I marrying ourselves Sept 22, 2001

I consulted with an astute friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) who noted that the random grocery guy was  "looking to for some pussy!"  Cat food, indeed.  But she also noticed that it is difficult for guys to hit that happy medium between being clear about their interest and being a lecherous ass.  The thing is, though, that much of it is in the eye of the girl.  If she likes you, stalking is romantic.  If she doesn't, you could get sued.  Arrested?  Maybe, it depends on how seriously your local police take your safety and how the local prosecutor interprets the laws.  (Said unmentionable friend also noted, as we puzzled over the rioting of Muslims, "What do you expect of a religion that promises every man 72 virgins in heaven.  Not 72 women who know what they're doing, but 72 inexperienced virgins." It's clearly not about pleasure, but ownership. And where do these virgins come from?  Is this their hell?) 

Puzzling it out with Huck later, after the first cat joke (which Huck rightly and wisely found side-splitting hilarious), Huck says, "Oh shit, you are so out of that guy's league, baby!"  And that, good citizens of the world, is why I don't need to be hit on.  It will be 11 legal years on Saturday.


  1. Hilarious and insightful as always. Happy years, legal or otherwise! If anyone deserves happiness it's you.

  2. Oh dear god! This is so wonderful and I want the whole world to see it!



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