I get hit on by homeless men.
Not hit by homeless men, which might make more sense because the guys hanging out around the transit center can sometimes be cantankerous. No, I mean what I said, hit on by homeless men, as in “Hey, baby, que paso? The passes come after I jump off the street car in front of the smoke shop and make my way toward my bus connection. They’re like beads thrown willy-nilly from Mardi Gras parade floats, landing at my feet.
My fan club doesn’t accost me every day, or even every week. But it happens often enough that it’s become a joke among friends, people asking if they should warn my husband about the gaggle of vagrants asking for my number. Such a bunch of jokers, my friends.
The comments usually start with what I’m wearing. My favorite was when one guy sidled up to me and purred, “I like your dress.” Tame enough – except I was wearing slacks and a blazer. In moments like that, you just have to smile … as you speed walk across the street.
The statements then begin to wander, anything from, “Not bad, honey” to “You’re beautiful” and finally on to the classic, “Hey, baby, whatcha doing tonight?”
I work at a university and, most days, am attired like someone who works a professional job. Thus, I don’t understand why a guy chugging a beer wrapped in a brown lunch bag, a beat-up backpack and mangy dog at his feet, would think I’d be open for adventure in a dusty desert wash. Or even open for a game of charades, for that matter.
Perhaps these men are extremely near-sighted and think I’m another street person up for some friendly “conversation”. Or maybe, in spite of being what many homeless people refer to as “house free” and “job independent”, their self-confidence is through the roof. Outsiders might look at them and think they’re down-on-their-luck, but the guys themselves are thinking, “I’ve still got it with the ladies!”
You have to admire that positive attitude, and perhaps I would if it wasn’t directed at me. On the one hand, its nice to know I’m still attractive to strangers – even if the strangers are day-drinking and sleeping on sidewalks. On the other hand, all this attention may mean that, in spite of my fancy-schmancy work clothes and my purposeful walk and my podcast-listening habits and my ability to feign attention when a researcher is boring me to tears, I actually look like I’m a street person in disguise. Talk about imposter syndrome.
My husband says I’m being ridiculous. Of course I don’t look homeless! I look great! Why else would the house-free fandom be shouting affirmations? Then, he wonders aloud (innocently, I’m sure), if any of the “less mature” women headed toward my bus get hit on.
I think for a minute, my head cocked like one of the Queen’s corgis, and realize that, no, none of the younger women get this undue attention. These leads me to jump to the logical conclusion: “You’re saying this is happening because I’m old? YOU’RE SAYING I’M OLD??”
My husband, who has never liked sleeping on the couch, quickly recovers. “Of course not! I’m saying, like fine wine, certain things just get better with age.”
Damn straight, I think, pulling on my house sweats and a baggy t-shirt. I’ve still got it, even if “it” is only noticed by a very small, uniquely qualified segment of society.