On a recent gorgeous April afternoon while visiting New York to search for apartments and job leads I found myself with 30 minutes to spare before an interview in Nolita standing across from an empty park bench, ice cold Diet Coke in hand, sun glaring. Pleased with the opportunity to rest my feet from a full day of touring the city in my favorite 7 inch boots I sat down, took a deep breath, a heavy gulp, and watched the citizens of my soon-to-be hometown pass me by, a comfortable gaze washing over my face recognizing that I recognized nobody, could categorize nothing, no one was the same and everything seemed different. When it was time to go I quickly uncrossed my legs, straightened my face to business blank, adjusted my tits in that low cut probably too tight blazer and bounced up to start walking towards Prince Street. After not nearly 15 seconds I heard a bustle of footsteps behind me and felt a light tap on my shoulder. A tall well-dressed man smiled warmly and said, “Excuse me. I think you’re absolutely beautiful. Would you like to get a drink?”
I’ll give a firm No to moves like that every time, it’s totally insane and presumptuous and out of line, a little stalkery, but it still felt fucking great. Good for that guy, really. There’s a way to creep appropriately and maybe someday it will pay off for him. Just not with me, you fucking maniac. What was really so thrilling was that this was the third time by the second day of my trip that a man had made an advance on me, now a total stranger point blank! Though I didn’t accept any of them, that is more action than I had gotten during the past nine months in Chicago. What’s in the air here. What’s in the men. What’s in me?
I’ve lived in New York over a month now. You know what’s in everyone here? Hustle. That’s it. It’s simply the need to get shit done. The romanticism of being asked out just for walking down the street looking lovely has quickly lost its touch. Yeah, sure, I’m getting a lot of attention. But so is everyone. Maybe in Chicago the men are all pussies. Maybe in Chicago I was mad all the time so I looked unapproachable. But that doesn’t mean that I moved to a magical city where men love women and are going to fulfill some Long Lost Lady’s Dating Dream. As I saw on that park bench I’m simply in a more dense, diverse, and integrated population where guys are willing to try just about anything until the right move works because no one has time to fuck around so bam bam bam just go for it, why hesitate, make a move, give it a shot. I’m no stranger to bad lines and ridiculous come-ons, it exists everywhere. And since I’ve lived back on the East Coast I’ve noticed some particularly draining trends that not only trap me socially but leave me wondering “Does anyone have Game anymore?” Which inevitably leads to the constantly nagging question: is Game even relevant at this age?
I know one thing. Relevant or not there are plenty of ways that men have tried the art of the pickup here that fall flat every time. Maybe I’m too particular, maybe I scrutinize too harshly, or maybe it’s just so fucking clear what they’re doing that I lose patience and either try to get the hell away or turn around and fuck with them when there’s no escape. Though getting caught with a man you don’t want to talk to seems commonplace and the scenarios know no limits, as a new transplant to New York there’s one particular type of interaction that I’ve had about enough of. And that’s all this goddamn Questioning.
Yeah, I get it - see a pretty face you want to know my name where I’m from what I do get your friendly basics. But I’m not sitting down to a machine gun Q&A session where you have nothing clever to say so you’re just going to shoot off one inquiry after another hoping that some sort of conversation will evolve. You don’t need to know where I live, my address, cross streets, and zip code aren’t helping you get to know me. Names, birthdays, places of residence of my siblings aren’t particularly necessary either, what were you going to send them a card? Should I write it down for you then? What you really don’t need to know are the things I don’t want to tell you. When details of a question are avoided you don’t have to ask again for more information, kind of like when you ask to see pictures of the dog I left behind or the work I don’t want to talk about or the general conversation I’m trying to end. I’m not being coy, I actually don’t want to tell you all of this. See, we don’t actually believe that you’re interested just because you’re asking us about ourselves. It’s insulting the way it feels like a drill or a requirement to fill up on facts as if you give a fuck. Whatever happened to normal human interaction. Whatever happened to responding to what you’re given like a thinking processing adult instead of just trying to get more as if that means you’re invested. If you keep up with this shit you know I’m just going to have to get real with you. “Ok Bro, I moved here because I fell in love with someone I couldn’t have so instead of making his life miserable I left town. I’m heartbroken. You don’t stand a chance, no one does right now. No I don’t have a job, you want give me one?” Motherfuckers stop asking so many questions and tell me a joke about pizza or some shit. Everyone likes pizza. No one likes personals. Why not just go ahead and buy me pizza right now, that’s a winning move right there. Interview dates alone are pretty exhausting but after experiencing a night long of multiple interview pick-up attacks last week I think I’ve seen relentless male feigned interest at it’s height. I gave them everything they asked for. As if I cared enough to expose myself. Then as soon as I saw movement in my ladygroup I’d interrupt mid-convo to get the fuck up and leave. Women can pretend to be interested too, guys. Sharing goes both ways. Eventually sharing can become lying. And I’ll start telling everyone I’m an accountant from Delaware. Sadly this will probably still lead to a million questions about nothing anyone cares about just so they can keep me there while they pretend to want to learn more hoping this will encourage me to trust them enough to allow access to my naked body. Let’s not forget the real objective here. I didn’t meet you motherfuckers at Columbia’s biannual panel on climate change. We’re at a club. The music’s so loud I can barely hear your dumb questions at all. Is that my friend walking away to use the bathroom? Sorry, LATER.
One singular type of question deserves attention on its own. Most certainly not unique to this city but the frequency with which I’m bombarded by it has increased significantly since the move. Men. All men: I didn’t get tattoos for you. They’re not for you. Meaning I’m not going out with the goal of discussing the way that I look as if this was an intentional ploy to get people to talk to me. Maybe that’s your tactic, but it wasn’t mine. All tattooed women everywhere face this daily. It’s the burden we take on for this one specific stylistic choice, just one out of all the possible options we have to prune, primp, style, decorate, dress our beautiful selves. This aesthetic in particular, that sadly we can never be prepared for until we look the way we’ve always wanted to look, presses upon us the ever-present price for female self-expression: That we’re going to have to deal with a bunch of fucking losers trying to get our attention by bringing all that attention to our bodies as if having tattoos is a universal symbol for Fair Game. Ladies you know how it goes. No matter how much or little ink you have any spec of color is enough to give them an in. None of it is original, all of it is routine, and it reads objectifying as fuck. Do you really want to know what my tattoos mean? I just pretend the one with logs and beaver teeth is a symbol for Vagina Dentata and see if they get the hint to leave me alone. No I’m not a Scorpio. Are you really going to inquire further? Because that should tell you enough right there. Oh how nice of you to wonder what kind of flowers these are, they’re not roses, they’re dahlias, I know that must have been driving you crazy, given your clear interest in horticulture. No, if you sensed my tone you'd know that doesn’t deserve a round on the dance floor. Go away. That also doesn’t mean stand next to me for 10 more minutes looking over while you try to think of a better line. It means DUDE GO THE FUCK AWAY. I don’t know how many tattoos I have but that’s a good question. Should we go in the bathroom, get naked, and count?? Because you’ve definitely asked already if I have any more so you could picture this scenario precisely. Sometimes we chat about your plans for your own body art and shit gets real trippy. One time a guy told me about a piece he wanted to do on his back of a deer stand (for hunting), a cathedral, stained glass windows, maybe some guns, and a big sun or Jesus or something. I was in Wisconsin at the time, obviously. But dragons with double lion heads spitting fire into wormholes and riding sharks with swords that hold scrolls of their mother’s favorite bedtime stories all seem pretty standard when you’re learning about someone’s tattoo he’ll never get. I just smile and encourage it whole heartedly. At least the focus has shifted to someone else’s skin. Maybe I can convince him to actually get that Shark-Riding Dragon. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a compliment on my look when it’s genuine. I’ve encountered plenty of men who have told me they liked my tattoos, I smile and say thanks, and the topic ends there. It’s like complimenting a dress, or a hairstyle, or a new pair of shoes. No man has ever asked me where I buy my shoes or how many pairs I have, what they mean to me or which are my favorites. And that’s a subject I’d gladly dive into. But unless he’s picturing me naked wearing only shoes it just doesn’t come up. Am I wrong? I’m not wrong.
So guys - if you see a chick on the street or at a bar or buying vegetables and she’s got a look you’re into yes - it’s ok to acknowledge that someone has it going on. She put effort into it, I’m sure she’d be glad to know it hasn’t gone unnoticed. But there’s a line between flattery and objectification. Sometimes saying You Look Nice is enough. Because I’m really not a Scorpio. The answer to the next question is that I’m a Human Scorpion. Is that really what you were looking for or are you only happy that you get to justify the act of staring at a woman’s figure with the fact that she has art drawn on it? My tattoos are not for you. Because my body was never for you either. Learn that now and you’ll have a much easier time talking to women in Brooklyn. Hell maybe some of them will actually trust you enough to tell you what their tattoos really mean someday. (Most of them aren't about biting dicks off by the way, some are just fucking flowers)
Many men may object to my critique of what seems like a simple attempt to get to know me. I understand, you need some way to learn about the woman you’re interested in, you have to find out if you’re interested in the first place. But my main concern has always been with a constant disconnect in authenticity. These men aren’t trying to get acquainted. They’re asking for personal information that has little to do with who I am and everything to do with basic uninteresting facts that require no intellectual investment in order to continue the conversation. We’re not sharing things we like or care about or listen to or look at or think or wonder or find entertaining. We’re not sharing anything. I’m being interrogated. I’m filling out forms. None of this is relevant. I don’t care if a man can’t think of anything better to say so he uses questions as a social tool. Or if everyone told him that women prefer good listeners or that we like talking about ourselves so pretend you want to hear what we have to say. How about we all decide that if you don’t have chemistry with someone you’re allowed to give up and move along. Why do we have to force a connection if there’s none to be had? I’m all for fucking upon first sight. I’ve picked up plenty of men at bars with barely a regret in all my years as a single adult woman. But selection still mattered. Walking away when a guy opened his mouth and didn’t live up to that beautiful face and body was not only healthy for my own social esteem but it ensured that I never had bad sex. Chemistry still mattered, too. Even if it was just masked misogynistic hostile chemistry coming from a stupid idiot that led to perfect rough dominating Amateur sex all night. I know when I know. And it takes about 30 seconds to tell. Though I've never completely given up on the practice of going out with the pure intention of getting laid the goal is to find pleasure, not to accomplish sex. Sometimes you just don’t find it, so you go home and get yourself off to that man you left behind and try again the next weekend. Good sex is never going away. Bad sex will always take its place if you forget why you’re fucking from the start. Men don't seem to care about the distinction. But I certainly do.
So stop asking me questions you don’t care about, why don’t you go find someone you do, and give me the time and space I need to figure out how to talk to this shy bartender over here. Because I wanna get to know that guy, and not where he lives, where he’s from, how long he’s worked here, what his tattoos mean, when he got them, if he has any more, if he can recommend a place for my next one, or if he wants to hear my plan for it. Right now I just want to know whether or not he’s going to let me touch his face. And if he's as slow and methodical when he’s making love as he is while making a drink. If he’s going to quietly tell me to crawl around on the floor or suck his dick or make him a sandwich. Maybe I’ll make him one before he asks. He deserves it. Because out of all the men I’ve met since I’ve been here only one has both shown a liking to me and respected my power by doing nothing to acknowledge, protest, worship, position, flatter, or desperately cling to it. I can’t switch roles to that of the Inquisitive Dick but in the name of denouncing the Game I am still left with one pressing question that will show my full hand and either end or begin this courtship all together, a question that needs to be answered now and I can only hope won’t objectify or scare him or make him feel like some sort of target behind that bar while I sit there and stare at his gorgeous eyes while he tries not to stare back at mine. I don’t care. It’s only one question. And it’s fair. And I just need to fucking know.
Do you have a girlfriend?
Just wondering. Never mind. You’re beautiful. Another Diet Coke please.