I wasn’t going to tell this story because it didn’t become relevant until I got hit on by a crackhead in Midtown last night.
I met my boo Obaa Boni for a farewell dinner last night. Yes, my fair atheist, feminist maiden is leaving the Georgia’s hinterland for other shores and I wanted to fete her properly. We had a great (pricey) dinner and fabulous conversation which lingered on until the staff began to sweep and mop up around us. We talked until the restaurant shut down. It was like a scene from a 90’s romantic comedy.
After we apologized to the restaurant workers for forgetting the time, we took our conversation to the parking lot and talked for another 30 minutes where we obnoxiously let our voices carry as though it were noon, when it was in fact close to midnight. Piedmont Avenue is an interesting place. The process of gentrification has completed its metamorphosis, so there is an eclectic – and troubling – mix of Sperry sporting yuppies, the insane, and the drug addicted. The yuppies ignored us buxom African women whose conversation was sprinkled with phrases including “activism” and “liberation theology”. (Black) Men who had either fallen upon hard times or had always lived in this condition nodded politely at us, hesitating to interrupt our conversation beyond the acknowledging of our presence. I am always mindful to nod back in recognition of theirs. And then HE showed up.
The crackhead. Or meth addict. Or wino. Or whatever substance he was on that made him think he had the right to insert himself into our discourse in such a vile manner. I was captivated by the number of missing teeth behind his cracked lips, and aware of the shaking of his right hand. I never broke contact with his eyes though. You can’t be scared in these streets. His voice was low and raspy when he spoke. He interrupted Obaa in mid sentence.
“Good evening ladies, how y’all doin’?”
“Fine, how about yourself?”
“Yeah, yeah. I ain’t wanna trouble you. I just wanna (something unintelligible) and could you help a brotha out?”
Was this dude asking for money? That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Atlanta is overrun with panhandler. I looked at Obaa. She did not look at me. Like I said, we had just spent a small fortune in the restaurant that was our backdrop. I wasn’t in a generous mood in the least.
I answered his incomprehensible query with “We’re talking now, so you have a blessed evening now, okay bruh?”
Then he looked at me, right hand now shaking violently and responded with:
“Yeah…ok. Thank you. Bless too…I know (muttering something) and I think you’ll feel much better if you let me put this d*ck in you.”
Cool as a cucumber. No stammering, no stuttering. Surely I misheard him.
As I stood there trying to work out the words, their meaning and desperately attempting to banish the mental image of this 6’2” crackhead adorned with a painter’s cap putting his d*ck in me, I heard Obaa snap:
“Okay. That’s it! It’s time to go.”
Her lips were curled in distain.
We headed for our respective vehicles and just before I got into my car, I heard Obaa scream “Do NOT follow me!” and saw the lanky crackhead bolt down the street.
It’s okay to laugh at this point if you are. We laughed about it before we said our final goodbyes to each other. The cheek of it! This isn’t just a problem with crackheads though. This is a problem with daily interactions between men and women of a certain stature. What I am about to say may sound classist/elitist, but there’s the rub. There is no escaping it.
I am rarely out on the town without my kids, but on the rare days that I am, I prepare myself for a pass or inappropriate remark from men. It’s always been that way. I’ve accepted my truth. My kids are harassment repellent, however, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when they grow up and leave me. I’d hope that by the time I’m 50, I would no longer be subject to this reality, but a friend of mine in her late 50’s just shared how she was harangued by some dude who tried to swindle her for money while simultaneously confessing that she was a “glittering orb” or some such BS.
Last week I had the opportunity to get my brows done and my car washed. As I approached the salon, a dark skinned man sporting starter dreads, a faded striped Polo shirt, tinted sunglasses and 3 missing teeth asked me if I would support his artist by taking a mix-tape for a donation. Hustling mix-tapes from the trunk of the car only happens in “the hood”, and I was excited to be a part of hood culture up in Roswell. We’re finally getting some diversity! I gave him a dollar as he gabbed on about support, and making it, and blah blah blah.
“Hey sistah. You kinda beautiful. You married?”
“Yes,” I smiled. “With FOUR kids.”
(I always make it a point to emphasis the number of children I have, after some guy told me that he didn’t care that I was married. He wasn’t looking to get with my husband, after all.)
The man with the missing teeth then whooped his surprise, peppered me with more personal questions about my hair and nail regimen, called me an African Queen and let me go on my way. When I got to the car wash, the attendant took my money, complimented my hair, and followed my “thank you” with:
“So what do you do in your spare time?”
I guffaw, sending spit flying all over the dashboard. “I have no spare time. I have FOUR kids.”
Deflated, the attendant drops his shoulders and hands me back my card, telling me he hopes to see me around again.
“I’m sure you will. I have been coming here for 5 years.”
I enter the car wash tunnel and chuckle in amusement.
These people. Aba. How do you think you are qualified to talk to me in this manner? How do you see me? Haram!
Imagine if I go to Google today-today for a job. I don’t have an appointment. I have never sent my resume. I have just showed up at the door, wearing my Wednesday Worst. Somehow, I make it past the gatekeepers and score a 2 minute audience with Sergei Brin and Larry Page.
“Sergei! Larry! I have come to apply!” I shout.
“Okay…never heard of you before, but it’s cool. Can you code?”
“Can you write an algorithm?”
“Can you repair or design hardware?”
“Any sales experience maybe? Good at admin work perhaps?”
“I sold shoes part time once, but no. No high level sales.”
“Did you go to a top flight school? We only accept applicants from top flight schools…”
“Well, I went to community college for a year. Got kicked out for possession though. But yeah, I been to school.”
Sergei, Larry and I all stare at each other in silence. I break the silence with:
“Look, all I know is, I want this job, and you’ll feel much better if you let me put this d*ck in you.”
Should I be surprised when they have security roughly escort me out? Men have been told their whole lives that they have to “hunt” for women. Even that’s true (and it’s garbage), you can’t show up to the chase with toothpicks and napkins. You didn’t put in the work to chop some of the spoils. You are not qualified. Why are you here?
So please, gentlemen. Advise yourselves. Despite what patriarchal customs and norms have informed you, you are not all qualified to enter. Look at the woman/girl you are approaching and then look at yourself. Evaluate the data. Face the facts. Don’t let chauvinism delude you oooo! You are not automatically entitled to a woman’s time, attention or a response.