1. The earnest, high-hippie admirer. Dreadlocks, fit-my-life-in-here-sized hitchhiker backpack and all. This guy really exuded wide-eyed wonder, but that might have been due to something other than my apparent beauty…
Dude: You’re pretty.
Me: Thank you.
Dude: No. Thank YOU for being pretty.
2. The hopeful racial profiler. A middle-aged Chinese man smoking on the corner looks up hopefully as I approach.
3. The expectations subverter. I’ve been asked this question before…
Dude: You got a phone?
Me: Uh.. What do you need it for?
Dude: So I can give you a call!
4. The throwaway complimenter.
Dude: Nice thighs, girl.
I will say that all of the above are better than what usually happened when men were being leery in New York. There, it was all “konichiwa,” “ni hao ma,” “Hey China doll,” and other racialized catcalls. At least these San Francisco creeps guys (and these) put a shred of effort into it.
Hmm. I actually never noticed this difference before, and now I’m left wondering what accounts for it. Why would men in New York be more likely to hurl racially inflected catcalls than San Franciscans?
Maybe it’s a function of city culture. For one, the times I’ve been approached by men here have been far fewer than in NYC. And usually in SF they are actually attempting to make conversation rather than just throwing out a catcall. Plus, I’m usually at least willing to respond to the overture if not engage in conversation. Whereas in New York, the default reaction is just to keep walking on, stonefaced. So maybe people use racially colored language to try to get a quicker rise out of someone–which is, after all, the whole point of catcalling.
Whatever the rationale may be, it doesn’t justify the action. Racialized catcalls were one of the things that most annoyed me about the crush of the city; for one, it took so much effort to tune it out (hence why my modus operandi was to ignore everyone). Secondly, I found it disappointing because it seemed like someone who lives in New York City should know better. Whenever someone hollered at me based on my race, it was a latent reminder that even in one of the cities with the most concentrated diversity in the world, diversity meant superficial coexistence but not actual understanding.
Well, I didn’t expect this post to get so deep. But there you have it.
In sum, lame as these pickup lines were, the final word is that SF > NY.