To that woman in Camden who bought me chicken noodles (shouting back, everyday sexism)

Here’s a specific one for you

To the guy asleep in the park wearing a plastic subway bag like a boxing glove,
I’m sorry.

It was us who took your empty coke can,
filled it from the fountain and placed it
like gyroscopes or jenga on the flat of your forehead.

I wasn’t around to watch you wake up and spill it,
but I’m sorry for how much I would have laughed.

To the dog who walked past  us,
I’m sorry I said the line on your head made you look like a shit zebra
(she called you a wank badger, which is better, but she can apologise for herself).

To the boy playing with his friend, he was in fucking bushes! Couldn’t you see his feet?
To the girl watching the boy, your shoes were untied.
And to the wobbly paving stone I used to see-saw on years ago,
I know that was you! And fuck you for getting fixed!

To the two women who got wolf whistled by that guy who announced he wanted to
“dip his wet in you both”.
I’m sorry that I thought you shouldn’t have left.
I’m sorry that I just thought you should have laughed at him,
or thrown something,
or taught bees to hate the sound of his voice.

But then the woman who bought me chicken noodles told me what it’s like.
That it polices her sometimes.
It decides where she can go at what time.
And that when she’s out in town and a guy walks up to her…

And here’s the thing, I’m still trying to flirt with her.
I’m that totally inappropriate guy,
I haven’t given up.

I said “you must feel like you’re watching dice walk a tightrope,
hoping he’ll be worth talking to but needing a double six.”
And she said “No.”

I said “you must feel like you’re playing musical chairs
with all the nearby women and
just praying it won’t stop during your favourite bit of monster mash.
‘I don’t want to sit down yet. Let some other girl sit down,
I’m doing the fucking monster mash!”
And she said “No.”

And I said “then how does it make you feel.”
And she said “frightened…”

And so to the woman who bought me chicken noodles,
and sat with me in the park, and made fun of that shit dog and those dickhead children
I’m sorry that I saw you and wandered over
I had no idea,
I’d never even considered that I could be frightening.

You were on your own,
and you looked bored,
and I had an hour to kill,
and I thought it would be fun,
and I didn’t think that I could be frightening,
I didn’t think
and I’ve never thought,
and worst of all,
I might not think again.

Because it was fun.
It was fun when you threw that ball
to try to make the dog land on the coke can balance man.
It was fun, watching you remember that “Holy shit, short circuit!”
And yes, I’m now really worried
that you bought me chicken noodles because you were frightened of me,
but more than that, I just really hope you had a good time.

I could tell you that I wasn’t trying to pick you up,
that I wasn’t trying to “dip my wet in”
but I don’t have to.

The reason this isn’t a love story is that
you shouldn’t have to care what my intentions were,
you shouldn’t have to care whether or not I’m just talking,
You shouldn’t have to care.

I want to say that most people aren’t a threat.
And I want to say that trusting people is good.
That there’s fun to be had and that you’re in control,
that you are the don,
and that you don’t have to care whether I mean what they say or not.

But I’m not sure I can say that.

Because I’ll never know what it’s like, really.
I join in with these feminist conversations,
they’re important to me, and they hurt, they do.
What men like that do to women like you makes me absolutely crazy.
But I also have to acknowledge that I’m a man.
And I might even be that kind of man.

I can’t really swim in it.

So I’m sorry that I can’t know what it’s like,
and I hate not knowing that.

But I’m trying.

So I’ll just say thanks.

And I’m not sorry, that I got to know you.


~ by Sandy Nicholson on June 20, 2013.

3 Responses to “To that woman in Camden who bought me chicken noodles (shouting back, everyday sexism)”

  1. It isn’t your fault if she was frightened. It’s the fault of men that make it necessary for her to be. I don’t want anything to mean a man can’t tell a woman she’s beautiful. All it should mean is that he shouldn’t expect anything back from it. He shouldn’t use a woman for gratification – physical, emotional, to pass the time, whatever – unless she authorises it, consents to it.

    If you walked up to her and she wouldn’t look at you, or seemed even remotely uncomfortable, I trust you’re the kind of guy who would have left. If you said to her “Let’s talk” and she said “Okay…” instead of “Okay!”, I trust you’re the kind of guy who would have left. If she felt uncomfortable, it’s because you might not have been that kind of guy. It’s the fault of those other guys existing, who create the possibility of a good guy being a bad guy until you know for sure, and who make it hard to even want to know for sure instead of just feeling like you want to RUN.

    I hope you don’t ever feel like you can’t talk to someone, anyone. That’s a lovely thing to do; it’s not a creepy thing to do. Telling someone “You’re ___” isn’t the same as telling them “I’m ___”. Just some people forget that. On both sides.

  2. If you’re still worried about the line, you want to read this:

  3. It’s not worry so much. I’m definitely not going to stop. But I do think it’s just important to keep it in mind, and to keep acknowledging that there are things about it that I can’t know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: