Last Sunday I was rushing to Toro for work, late. I was dressed totally incorrectly for the weather. It was glaringly sunny out so I'd assumed I'd be fine if I wore my short down jacket, hat, scarf and gloves for the fifteen minute walk from upper to lower South End. I was mistaken; the wind was icy & whipping with a surprising vengeance and after just half a block my eyes were tearing from the gusts and I was really, really cold. I felt lost without my puffy coat armor, with its cocoon-like length and its encompassing hood.
I turned left at West Dedham, rushing passing the post office and Villa Victoria, slaloming past a woman with a baby carriage and an old Asian man hobbling down the street in blue sweat pants. There were two young guys talking at the end of the street, and I felt them staring at me as I approached. I ducked my head down and tried to become invisible as I passed. For a minute I thought it worked! Neither of them said anything as I scurried past...
Then, once I was about ten feet away they started hollering: "Hey, snow bunny, where you goin'? It's gonna be alright! Damn, girl, you look good...." their voices faded into a gust of wind as I turned left to rush down Shawmut.
And there it was, that old familiar feeling: shame, embarrassment, one part anger, one part fear, seeping into my belly and up through my chest like terrible ink spilled on gleaming pale carpet. 100% usurping of my power. I realized as I walked: my puffy coat is more than just an armor against bad weather. It's an armor against catcalls. With its broad shapeless mid-section and its massive tent-like hood, my puffy has protected me from this feeling all winter long.
And underneath my puffy, my heart has grown soft. Spared from these comments all these months, I've let my skin get thinner, let myself become more open to this kind of verbal onslaught. A tiny little comment that should have rolled off like droplets of water slithering down a duck's feathers left me shocked, irked, vulnerable, and embarrassed. It really, truly made me feel like shit. As opposed to how I usually react to catcalling, when it makes me feel just a little bit like shit.
I cursed my decision to fore go the puffy coat.