Friday, July 15, 2005

Bitch Shoes

The other day, I made them shut up, and I knew that day that I had won. This is what I wore:

A simple hot pink, sort of sparkly tee shirt from Anthropologie, which is cut well, accentuates my bust while slimming my waist
Also well-cut Seven jeans. These used to be tight, but are looser now since I lost a few pounds, but like any quality clothing item, they still fit well
Hair curly & up in pins, in my signature style
Jangly silver bangles
My Perfect shoes

I have worn this outfit a thousand times since I first assembled it last summer. It's my sort of signature backup, something cute to throw on when meeting friends for drinks, in which I always feel good. But really, it's nothing special.

I saw them from a block away, clustered in the usual spot, on the corner of Gainsborough and Huntington, right by Symphony Market II and Burger King, waiting to shake their cups in my face and ask me for change. These men are the worst and most frequent kinds of sexual harassers. They want my attention, and they want my money, which I guess gives them special license to call me anything they want. You never know what you're gonna hear.

Sometimes they just call me pretty. Sometimes they call me sexy. Sometimes they call me pretty, then sexy, then bitch because I don't give them any money. No matter what, they make me feel about as big as a mosquito. I hate it, And for different reasons, I struggle each time with denying them change. We both know I have money and they have none, so why shouldn't I share? Then they call me whatever it is that day, and my guilt vanishes, replaced by shame, anger, frustration, and fear. When I walk past these men, I am at once degraded, and degrading.

But the other day, I won. I decided to take anything that happened in this interaction for the team, because I now want to write a book, and I can chalk up any pain/embarrassment/anger/frustration I feel to "living" and "research". So I held my head up high, kept my steps long, and kept walking. I made every effort to wipe any trace of openness from my face: the curling remnants of a smile, faint happy wrinkling in the corner of my eyes, raised eyebrows--all of these, erased. I replaced them with a firm, angry looking mouth, and a glare that I assume looked accusatory. I wasn't trying to look like mad, per se, but I presume that I did.

But I think what cinched the deal were My Perfect Shoes. These are shoes that I bought on sale last summer from Diesel. They are slightly platform, open toed, and sturdy in structure, with a curved heel and shabby chic fabric. Perhaps it was the way these three inch heels pitched me forward, or the thunk thunk that their wood heel makes along the sidewalk. Or perhaps it was just the extra three inches, with the added height of my Prom-tastic up-do, plus my very formidable posture, which can make me seem about 6 feet tall at times.

So there the men were, shaking their cups, commenting to people as they walked by, craning their necks in an effort to make eye contact with these rich strangers. But as I approached, the men grew silent. As I stalked by, I could feel their faces looking directly into mine, eyes searching. As I passed them, I knew they were carefully observing my ass. But all I heard was one brazen sole whisper to a friend: "I ain't saying anything."

I walked on and smiled. Because that one day, I won.

It must have been the shoes.

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