Pickup Lines that Have Not Worked Lately

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.

Dude: China?
Me: No.

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.

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7 thoughts on “Pickup Lines that Have Not Worked Lately

  1. I have never been hit on because of my race (white Anglo-Saxon European descent girl here) but I have definitely gotten some interesting pick up lines. Just this past weekend I went out dancing in NYC with a friend and this guy basically just extended his arm to me on the dancefloor and I was all, “Why not? He looks fun, even if he is a fratty bro and not my type!” While we were dancing, he asked me my name which unfortunately is not easy to catch in a room with the music blasting. When he finally caught on my name was Amelie, he yelled at me, “WOW! That’s such an interesting name! I LOVE IT! Tell it to my friend here!” When I repeated my name, his friend also exclaimed his enthusiasm, “That’s SUCH a great name! I LOVE IT!” I responded something like, “Yeah it’s not your typical Caitlin or Ashley, not easy to remember!” They then went off to the bar to get more drinks and I knew I wouldn’t be seeing them anymore. But it was rather hilarious to see their fratty bro reactions!

  2. funny. I completely agree about NYC having witnessed this behavior here so many times in this crazily diverse city – it makes people wall themselves off from others.

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