Saturday, March 1, 2008

Minor World-Quake

I just got whistled at again.

It had been a while--months, in fact, since it hadn't happened at S---- (look, Les Miserables-style vaguerie!) before. I had forgotten it made me this uncomfortable. There I was, having a perfectly ordinary afternoon. I push the cafe doors open and walk outside, turn right to go on my way. Whistles from behind me, and bam! my composure is shattered. Wanting to look back and see what was going on and who was there, wondering who? who? but, if in fact they were whistling at me, not wanting to give them the satisfaction of seeing my face. Not knowing at all what's about to happen. Not that anything ever does after I get whistled at, but still. An anonymous whistle coming out of nowhere immediately makes me feel powerless. I don't ask to be noticed, commented on, whistled at like a dog.

Not that I really think whistling at a girl is like whistling at a dog. But to me, it is dehumanizing. It could just be that I care too much about maintaining the illusion that my life is primarily my domain, under my control. My kingdom, where things go as I will them to. It isn't really. I'm just one fragile girl in a world of strong men, quickly moving objects, towering buildings, snowstorms, machines I couldn't operate, motives I can't fathom.

Fortunately, it all falls under G-d's domain. Acknowledging that I control very little doesn't mean despairing about the course of my life.

Still, every reminder that utterly unexpected and, worse, unexpectable things happen makes me deeply uncomfortable. Proof: my automatic attempt to recover power by blaming the whistles on my clothes. Which makes no sense. I am wearing a t-shirt and jeans like always. (Never mind that it's winter in New York.) But that is what runs through my mind when a guy whistles at me--what can I wear so this doesn't happen again?

What runs through the guy's mind when he whistles at me? I'm not sure I want to know.

I don't know why getting whistled at always feels like such a major event. But it shakes me up, every time. Perhaps I should install some better braces to keep my shelves of emotions from falling over in the event of a more major world-quake.

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