Monday, October 19, 2009

So Many Fools, So Little Time

Walking home from the neighborhood grocery, I heard a man say "Hi!" I turned around to see a man on a bicycle who wasn't addressing me but a very attractive young woman walking behind me. He dismounted and wheeled his bike onto the sidewalk to walk with her.

"What's your name?" he asked.
"Josh," he said, extending his hand. She shook his hand and kept walking.
"How was your day?"
"Not very good. I'm a teacher and..."
He finished her sentence: "The little rascals."
She continued, "my mother is sick."
"Did you have a good weekend?"" he asked her.
"No, I just found out my mom has cancer," she blurted. "I really have to go." She walked faster. So did he. Without missing a beat, he said, "What do you do for fun?"

At this point, "we" were at my corner, walking abreast. Nicole and I exchanged the kind of look women understand which cannot effectively be translated verbally, but which means, basically, "This guy is a jerk with the finesse of a moldy boiled turnip and I don't want him to know where I live."

It seemed obvious that she was only being polite because she was in shock from her mother's bad news, and because she is very likely a kind person as well as beautiful. I considered inviting her to my place as if we were friends so the guy would leave her alone, but with strangers there is always that hesitation since I couldn't know for sure that she wanted to discourage him. I would have liked to offer my sympathy and say something hopeful about her mother but hesitated to interrupt, no matter how it seemed. But I do hope that all you gentlemen out there, in a similar situation, would realize that this woman, and all women, exist independent of your amorous intentions. The jackass was so hot for Nicole that he couldn't even manage the basic niceties, which, strangely, might have given him a better chance with her. Even though I'm pretty sure he wasn't riding the bike for exercise, but for transportation.

Can you say "stupid," children? I knew you could.


yinyang said...

There was a big discussion a couple weeks ago over at Shapely Prose about this sort of behavior. And, yeah, it's pretty stupid.

Laura Lee said...

A friend of mine went so far as to let someone take her picture in the forest. The next week the same guy was arrested by police in the SAME SPOT for lewd behaviour in his car with pictures of various tourists etc. There's one born every minute.

Hey, I loved that book! Adventurous and shows that people generally look on the outside when they are supposed to know you better.

nick said...

Thanks for that link, yinyang. That post is absolutely excellent, I've never seen such a good piece on how women see strange men. I'd recommend it to people except that (I hope) none of my male friends need the advice.

I wish I knew why men feel they have the right to approach strange women and pester them and make demands of them regardless of the woman's wishes. They are just gormless arseholes, period. The fact that he didn't even acknowledge Nicole's sick mother is pure crassness.

I'm just sorry that women have to be prepared for this sort of behaviour every second they're out on the streets.

And if you'd invited her back to your place, then the guy might have latched on to you as well. I hope she managed to shake him off.

the walking man said...

The funny (odd not humorous) is that Josh was too typical in that he didn't hear a thing Nicole said.

Maybe we need to start communicating in one finger sign language to be heard.

yes I can say..."stupid."

Maria said...

Ugh. And you know, not to blast men...but it is almost always men who do things like that. Most women (and good men) would have immediately shown some sympathy and their hopes for a recovery.

Pamela said...

My recent experience: I a guy's picture and he starts talking to me about how he knows the DJs from when they were kids. Blah blah, and mentions something about a long time ago, and that there's no way I could know about it. Then looks at my friend P, and says, well you're old enough to know, right. I just looked at P with my mouth open - Oh My God! I turned to him and said, you know we're the same age right. And instead of apologizing, he looks at P and says, there's no way you're the same age. I just looked at her, she looks at him "you know you just insulted me, right?". He still doesn't quite get that he should just run away, so I finally waved him off with a 'you're done'.

Cecilieaux said...

I went to the post and discussion at Shapely Prose that was cited by Yinyang, above, then read the comments here. I am disturbed by the one-sidedness of the way the event is presented and the conclusions drawn.

Yes, let's stipulate that, at a minimum, the young man should have stopped when the young woman said "I really have to go."

I know I'm going to get rotten tomatoes, but in the unspoken language that everyone is allegedly supposed to use, isn't there a certain way of dressing and walking that clamors "pay attention to me" and "look how desirable I am"?

Do we know that the "very attractive young woman" wasn't dressed and didn't have the demeanor in question?

If not, what made her "very attractive" even to our esteemed blogger?

Moreover, in my native New York City we always knew never to make eye contact with any stranger, male, female or mineral.

So why did she engage? There is no law that you have to tell every random stranger who appears in your path your name upon request.

I submit that there are two sides to this and similar stories.

TechnoBabe said...

I walked through this experience through your ears and eyes. Your first reaction was to help. Mine too. It is so irritating to listen to someone who does NOT LISTEN. Nicole needs some get tough lessons and I hope she doesn't walk alone all the time.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I think that the whole circumstance has less to do with an amorous stranger and a beautiful young woman and more to do with this:

Consideration, respect and common courtesy.

None of which were shown by Josh. He was in very poor form for those reasons alone, regardless of what Nichole might have been wearing or doing. Those things do not negate basic fundamental social skills.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Wow. That was an excellent piece! Thank you so much for sharing it here.

Laura Lee,

Now that's scary! I'm glad your friend didn't get hurt.

It's a charming book. I just used the picture because Eager Josh was a dirty dog to ignore Nicole's grief, which I'm sure she only mentioned because she was so upset that her guard was down. (And by the way, I would be the last person on earth to malign dogs, which I adore. But dirty rhinoceros doesn't quite get it.)


Yes, that post Yinyang steered us to was amazingly good. She eloquently expressed how it is to be a woman and feel like a piece of meat thrown to sharks.

I would have liked to save her if she wanted saving, but sensed that she was set to push on home, shut her door and cry.


Sadly, all the guy could hear was his own instincts talking, loud and clear. The one-finger sign language is usually just as loud and clear but most women are conditioned to be too well-behaved to employ it.


I think that most men would also have at least given lip service to her stated concerns, but her privacy was violated which makes you wonder what else would have been, if the opportunity presented itself.


Omigod is right. I cannot believe that jerk thought it was ok to insult one woman to gain favor with the other, and not even to backpedal when called on it. I love that you told him he was done. Maybe he learned something, although such depths of stupidity are probably beyond help.


No rotten tomatoes, but I am going to politely disagree with your contention that Nicole's attire, bearing, etc. were an invitation because that is along the lines of blaming a rape victim for her attack. She was a highly attractive young woman, and she was dressed in flattering clothes. But are you really implying that if she did not want attention, she should have been wearing a burka? I know that you are an intelligent man and that you do not despise women, so I'm going to assume that is a "no."

I am convinced that she shook his hand and provided her name because she was so upset about her mother's illness, of which she had just learned, that she responded by rote to his questions.

Again, I am surprised that you would even state that her desirable appearance was a blanket invitation to be approached. Look but don't touch is the principle here. And just to be clear, she was not dressed provocatively, but beautiful women really can't help looking good in the same clothes that no one would even notice on a plainer woman.

thailandchani said...

Ultimately, when a woman says "no"... (or a man, for that matter)... to any kind of advances or unwanted attention, it means "no". I don't care if the person is stark naked. That's just not the point.


heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes, Nicole should learn to be less polite. We all need to learn that sooner or later because there are so many jerks out there ready to take advantage of our good manners.


You make some excellent points. It has always enraged me that beautiful women are less likely to be respected than other people, and that's just wrong. As for common courtesy, it is probably time to drop the "common" part of that phrase because it has become quite UNcommon of late, and we are all the poorer for it.


YES. "NO" means NO under any circumstances. To state otherwise is to pass the buck. It is never someone else's fault if one acts idiotic. We all need to take responsibility for our actions and stop finding excuses.

nick said...

Cecilieaux, I can only agree with Heart and reject that old old chestnut that women are "asking for it" because of "the way they dress". However a woman is dressed, it never entitles a man to force himself on her. It's just another line that men trot out to excuse their own lack of self-control.

Cecilieaux said...

I'm responding on my blog.

heartinsanfrancisco said...



heartinsanfrancisco said...


Ah, I didn't get the blogger e-mail that you had responded. They're getting downright sloppy. I'll be right there.

Anonymous said...

Let's count on one finger the number of times his line has proved successful with women. No cheating now.

What an asshole, and how unfortunate for her.

Molly said...

Yes Miss Heart, we can say stupid. Very loudly too. Hopefully he will hear us and cease and desist!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


He must be an incurable optimist.


Oooh, a picture. You're beautiful, just as I always suspected!

Jocelyn said...

You handle dialogue as deftly as everything else, Dear Heart. I was there on the sidewalk with all of you, trying to help angle Nicole away from the clod that was Josh.

Now I have to follow yinyang's link.

But not before I mention that I've missed you and am sorry I've been an even worse blog follower than usual.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That link is a terrific piece of writing. I was impressed.

And I've missed you, too. I haven't been commenting much lately because of a keyboard with a spacebar that sticks. My new one should arrive soon.

Thisis what happenswhen Idon'tgobackandseparate words. See?

LittlePea said...

Ugh! This kind of thing infuriates me. Obviously she didn't want to talk to him otherwise she wouldn't have mentioned something as awful as that kind of news. An intelligent peson would say,"I'm so sorry to hear that, I hope you're having a good day and I'll pray for you, etc." I don't even tell men my name because it's always the creepy ones that try to talk to me and I had to learn to start being "rude" for my own safety. I'm sure she would have been so grateful to you if you had acted as if you knew her. We women are always brought up to be "nice" and being "nice" can sometimes lead to a dangerous situation or at least an umcomfortable one.

Warty Mammal said...

I've had so much fun reading the responses to this post.

My contribution was watching a male parakeet try to mate with an uninterested and unwilling female. My husband interpreted the proceedings thusly:

"Hey baby hey baby! Wanna do it? No? How about now?

No? How about now?

No? How about now? ..."

Well, you get the idea. Sounds like the fellow on the bicycle had about the same level of subtlety and brain cells.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sweet Pea,

I couldn't agree with you more about how disadvantaged we women are because we're trained to be "nice."

I used to pretend I didn't speak English when approached by strange men, but now I just ignore them, although at my age, perhaps I should thank them instead.


Our boy Josh would have made a good parakeet.

I once watched a whale love triangle at the Coney Island Aquarium- the girl whale was in a tank with a boy whale but she clearly preferred the boy whale in the NEXT tank, who was unable to get to her. They pressed themselves against the grill separating them while the odd guy out tried w/o success to interest her in him.

And then I took my toddlers for ice cream cones.

Jo said...

Boy, there is someone any woman would run from as fast as she could. I can just visualize the look you two exchanged...! Knowing..! :-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Whether or not she was thinking clearly, she gave him the perfect opportunity to demonstrate his sensitivity, but I guess you can't demonstrate what you don't have.

Tom Head said...

GAH. Anyone who would defend Josh's behavior on any grounds is a misogynist and/or in dire need of basic social skills. Responding to a stranger's "my mother has cancer, I need to go" by following her and asking "so, what do you do for fun?" is creepy and, yes, will make you come across as incredibly annoying at best, and a potential sexual predator at worst. EPIC FAIL, as the kids say.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think that basic conversational skills should be taught in the schools so that people learn to listen to others and not just to wait for a break in the soundtrack to speak. (Or worse, to interrupt.)

Our boy Josh was so blinded by his own desires that he failed to acknowledge Nicole as she really was, someone's suffering daughter. Women appreciate being seen as more than their bodies, which is rarely an issue with men who usually get respect regardless of their attractiveness quotient. We still have a long way to go, baby.

Thank you for your visit. I would enjoy reading your blog which seems to be by invitation only.

Anonymous said...

My great fear is not being foolish or a jerk but, rather, being ignorant, or clueless as to what is obvious to so many around me.

As a man, I am sorry for the behavior of so many clueless men.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I know enough about you to state unequivocally that these concerns are a waste of your energy. But as a woman, I accept your apology on behalf of your less enlightened peers.