Have you ever said something and immediately afterward - or within 10 city blocks - wished you had said it a different way? Anyone who follows this blog, even semi-regularly, knows that I have. And often. Or has someone ever hit on you, and even though you weren't interested, you wished you had responded differently?
Being a woman in New York, we become used to more than our fair share of assholes. So when a nice, slightly attractive and fairly dorky-looking man in a business suit simply said hello while walking beside me on 42nd Street, my emotional wall was already going up. I glanced at him through my black sunglasses, nodded and said hello. After a few steps, he asked, "Can I buy you a cup of coffee?"
Without thinking, and only half-looking in his direction, I replied curtly, "Thanks, but I've had a really long day."
He shrugged and said ok and a few steps later, he was turning south on Sixth Avenue and I was waiting at the intersection to continue west on 42nd Street. I watched him walk away in his nice suit and thought about my bullshit response. Then, I imagined how much courage it must have taken for him to approach a stranger and invite her for coffee. And I wondered how often he might get turned down when he does. I didn't know what it was about this particular encounter, but suddenly I felt bad.
As I walked up Eighth Avenue, I thought of all the things I could have said. It's not that I feel the need to cater to everyone's ego; it's just that when a nice-looking man finally offered something more pleasant than a lousy catcall or trite whistle, I shot him down with a lousy, trite excuse. I could have sincerely thanked him for the invitation and politely declined ... and maybe even asked his name and said it was a pleasure to meet him. Is that the South in me - still rooted in my gut two years later?
It reminded me of a dream I had once, where I walked into the Sean John store on Fifth Avenue and Diddy was in there talking to two of his sales representatives. In my dream, he glanced toward the door as I walked in and basically looked right through me as if I did not exist and without skipping a beat in his discussion. In the dream, I hated the feeling of being invisible, not worth noticing - not that I would ever expect or care if Diddy looked at me twice on the street - ok, maybe I'd be flattered if he did (I mean he's Diddy), but why he was the landmark in my dream, I may never know since he is not exactly a significant idol of mine.
Maybe I could have at least made the slightly attractive, fairly dorky-looking man in in the suit on 42nd Street feel like his name was worth knowing - and he was worth noticing - as a thank you for not looking me up and down like I was a tender cutlet.
But what's done is done. And while I'm not narcissistic enough to believe that he was still mulling over our brief encounter by the time he got to 41st Street, I just want to use my blog as a temporary platform to say to the gentlemen in New York City: Don't stop inviting women for coffee just because we are used to dealing with assholes on a daily basis.
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