Monday, May 5, 2008

Saving smiles for people I like

Last Saturday I was in line at the grocery store when I was startled out of a daze by the guy in front of me. “You could smile, ya know,” he was telling me, staring at me with a goofy grin on his face. I’ve heard this from men many times before, although less often since college, when my general temperament was actually even angrier than it is now.

“You look a lot prettier when you smile,” they say. Excuse me? WTF are you and how do you know what my smile looks like? Maybe I have no teeth. Maybe my dog just died. Maybe I don’t like taking beauty advice from f-ing strangers.

It’s my belief that this comment stems from a few main ASSumptions:

  • I exist for the viewing pleasure of random dudes
  • I care how random dudes react to my appearance
  • I appreciate any and all attention/critiques from random dudes

All three are incorrect. Usually I get these smile requests when I’m walking down the street, but since this one occurred when I was stationary, I decided perhaps I should poke MYSELF into someone else’s bubble and give him a piece of MY mind, since he felt so entitled to tell me how I should control and display my own emotions.

And so I let him know that actually, random men telling me to smile is a pet peeve of mine. He seemed confused and kept repeating that I’d look prettier if I smiled, that he was just trying to give me a compliment, that he wasn’t trying to hit on me. A compliment? Would he consider it a compliment if I told him he'd look a lot more handsome if he updated his hair and wardrobe? My aunt, mother, sister and niece joined the conversation mid-babble and threw him off even more, which I found amusing so I gave up my attempt to make a point. (Okay maybe my niece didn’t technically join the conversation, but I’m sure when she starts to speak in complete sentences she’ll have a lot of opinions.)

I actually think, though, that his confusion was genuine. These unoriginal turds really believe women have never heard that line before. Oh but he said he wasn’t trying to hit on me—I think he may have made that claim after he realized I was traveling with my estrogen entourage. But regardless, whether it’s a line or a genuine piece of advice, I’ve heard it before, and I don’t appreciate it.

I was pretty proud of myself for finally talking back, but now I’m thinking I probably took the wrong approach. I probably should have just followed the advice my mom used to give me when my older brother was picking on me. “Just ignore him. He’s just trying to get a rise out of you,” she’d say.

Because really, deep down, instructions to smile, whistles from the car, gropes on the train—aren’t they all just part of big brother’s attempt to keep us from getting too greedy in the toybox of life? Or at least keep us preoccupied enough playing Pretty Princess that we don’t care or notice that we’re not getting our fair share.

6 comments:

Greg said...

This post made me ... frown.

Caroline said...

Unoriginal turds.... estrogen entourage.... My two newest most favorite Amyisms....

PS I disagree with the idea that keeping quiet is the best response. Since you did not raise your voice, or appear upset, I would argue that he did not get a rise out of you. And speaking up lets those unoriginal turds know that you have a brain, and you aren't intimidated by or attracted to them. So good for you!

Dr. Bob said...

A former bartender at the CBI told me the story of when she was shopping at the Dollar Store. She gave a little acknowledgment smile to some guy passing in the aisle. That was the guy's opening to start talking to her. Her take was to not smile at strangers ever again. Mine was to never shop at the Dollar Store.

I wonder if this turd wanted you to smile so he can think you like him. I think it's easier for him to tell his parole officer that you wanted him.

And I agree with you that you should ignore idiots like this, AND with Caroline that they need to hear your displeasure. Some will make it obvious they are hitting on you despite the protestation, so there's no educating them. Others might be saying it from archaic beliefs of a woman's place - you might be able to enlighten them.

Zipporah said...

Where can I get an estrogen entourage? Sounds handy.

Amy said...

I think they're in the tampon aisle.

doubtful dater said...

I hate it when guys do that!!! Oh and I laughed so hard with the '...if I told him he'd look a lot more handsome if he updated his hair and wardrobe!' That's the best thing I've heard all day! I might have to steal that!!

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