It was midday and I was feeling like a load from the bottle and a half of wine and 2 boxes of See’s Chocolates that I split with The Husband during a House of Cards marathon the night before. The salt that I sprinkled on my caramels in an effort to make them salted probably didn’t help that bloated feeling. Having finished the morning’s writing and not quite ready for lunch (as if I could ever be hungry again) I put on my sneakers to go for a walk.
I live around the corner from a middle school; we occupy the same, over-sized block. To go around this gigantic block is approximately .6 of a mile, a nice number that I can add up and feel a sense of accomplishment. (Two turns means I’ve gone over a mile. Four turns are almost 2 ½!) The school’s large athletic field occupies a corner of this superblock and I often pass the kids in gym class struggling to run laps and I resist the urge to yell in support, “I suck at running, too! It’s OK!”
On my second turn around today I walked alongside a threesome of boys playing basketball and as I walked passed them I heard, “Show me that ass!”
It hit me that this was probably aimed at me, and I was further convinced when I turned around, saw the boy looking at me, his hand cupped over his mouth as if he’d been caught saying something he knew he shouldn’t, but still with a look on his face like he thought he was hilarious.
I debated what to do. I thought I was just going to move on. The
kids boys had mocked me before on my walks, probably shouting out things that were borderline harassment and I had been in a kinder mood, or just too lazy to do anything about it. Kids should be able to do things like stand on a playground unsupervised and swear or be loud or whatever without having some unrelated adult such as myself narc on them.
But I was within steps of the school’s front office. And the memory of another walk, again in my own neighborhood just weeks before, when a group of men in a van pulled up alongside me, started driving slowing while saying things like, “You’re very pretty,” was still fresh. Seriously, Dudes! WTF! Do you think I’m going to think this is a great opportunity and just jump in the van? Has that ever worked? Or is it just about making me feel threatened and unsafe? Who’s to say this kid won’t grow up to be a creeper like this someday? Or worse? I want kids to be loud and swear and talk about sex and whatever the fuck else they yell about when there are no adults present, but I also want boys to grow up respecting women and not harass them. This is not a KIDS thing. Girls don’t stand on a playground and yell at men who pass them by, “Show me the dong!” And I guarantee if a boy is yelling it at me, he’s probably making similar rude comments to the girls he goes to school with, most likely the ones who hit puberty first, and that’s just bullshit.
So this is what I decided. I didn’t want to point the kid out. But I did go into the office and tell them what happened and that perhaps they could teach the kids about respecting women and not harassing them. I pointed out that if the kid said it to me, he was probably saying it to the female students, too. I decided not to bitch about the constant trash on the sidewalks and in the grass that those children generate and how someone should teach them about ecology, too, while they’re at it. Although I did wonder why I was bothering to recycle and preserve the Earth for the next generation when clearly they couldn’t be bothered. And then I cut my walk short.