I recently did an interview with a fellow blogger in Argentina and among her questions was one about the cultural differences between how men treat women here versus how women are treated in the U.S. I made some smartass reply about how the male flattery is sort of charming here and that I don’t let it bother me too much.
Well, I spoke too soon.
The other night I was coming home from dinner around midnight. The bus was stuffed with people just starting their night, the smell of too much cologne and freshly washed hair temporarily overpowering the odor of the bus fumes. There was a guy who was drunk, crazy, unstable, who knows what exactly and itching for someone to talk to. With a mullet straight from 1977, disheveled clothes, and a bag that looked like he has fished it out of a garbage can somewhere uptown, I considered he might be homeless.
Two stops after me, a young woman dressed in painted on jeans, a powder white jacket and a tiara (and no, she was not a drag queen) got onboard. Homeless mullet began to try talking to her, but not in a nice way. He began saying nasty things to her and just generally being a pain in the ass. And no one did anything.
Tiara left, he got worse. Two young girls got on, no more than 16 years old, with heavily lined eyes and shorts that were perhaps half an inch more than your standard issue Daisy Dukes. The minute these girls boarded the bus, mullet man was like a wolf going for two little cublets. The bus settled into an uncomfortable silence as mullet man made disparaging comments about girls with the budding bodies of women, but the maturity of munchkin sized maidens.
They stuck together and scampered off for a seat right in front, next to the bus driver. I wanted to yell out, to curse, to scream at this fucker. But I also did not know how mullet man would react. I was a coward, unable to pull the words in Spanish from my gut.
There were two boys who were nervously gigging at mullet man’s demeaning diatribe and to them, I shot daggers. They couldn’t even look me in the eye and stopped with their girlish giggles before too long.
Finally, mullet man got off on the edge of Palermo and we were all free from his sexist terrorism. But this incident changed my mind about the “charming flattery”. Fuck that – it’s the sweet nothings that paved the way for the mullet man to act with impunity and yes, it does bother me.
To this end, my own Spanish homework is now my fuck you, leave her alone speech. Will share soon.