Dirty Old Men

“I want you to smile and be nice to us because even though we’re dirty old men, we’re still nice guys.”

The confusing request rang in my ears. What did I just hear? In front of me, sat five men with peppery gray hair, who looked at me wondering what would happen next.

“Am I not smiling?” I said, on the brink of annoyance but not one bit surprised at this comment. Of course someone had to tell me to smile.

The “D.O.M.” (short for dirty old men, according to them) said it looked more like a grimace and at that point, I walked away.

These instances have been more prevalent this year but it’s honestly nothing new. I know what teenage boys like to think about so it’s no surprise that those transgressions eventually hit the point of “dirty old men.” But this year, I’ve felt exceptionally demonized (almost like my senior year of high school) and it’s hard to be a woman, let alone a brown one, in sensitive times. In April, the very second day I walked to work in the city, a construction worker called me a whore from across the street. It was so loud I heard it through my earphones, so loud that I turned around and the workers who stopped to see the jeer, instantly turned around. I never walked that way again, nor have I liked going near construction crews again. (I was wearing black leggings and a gray sweatshirt).

Earlier last week, I placed a salad in front of my guests and the man exclaimed, “Wow it would take you a week to eat that.” I should have taken it as a compliment but the way he looked at my body just felt wrong.

So maybe these instances are just occurring more because I live in a strange city with even stranger people, but it doesn’t mean that I have to deal with it and neither should other girls have to “deal with it” too. I’m just asking everyone as a decent human beings to think before you speak to each other, especially women. Just at least try. We are delicate orchids that need to be misted, not shocked to the system with ice cubes. And a word of advice: Never introduce yourself to anyone as a dirty old man.

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