Men have been smiling at me a lot lately. A lot. Young, old, fat, thin, alone or even while with a woman...it doesn't seem to matter to them. They stop talking, or worse yet the whole conversation reorients itself to watch me walk by. Men walk the length of a scaffolding on construction sites to watch me walk by
Today it reached new heights. I hope they've peaked. I can't take it anymore.
I went for a ride early this morning and as I crossed one street one of the serious road bikers saw me, slowed down and watched me ride by with a big smile on his face. To be perfectly honest I thought maybe he was laughing at me but I checked and there was no toilet paper trailing off my shoe and my clothing was all where it was supposed to be so if he was laughing it must have been some kind of road cyclist inside joke.
Then on the bike path a man I've passed quite a few times became even more insistent today, waving his arms around like he was drowning as we passed each other. I stuck with a subdued one-handed and once across the bike wave. He went by smiling like I'd just made his day, an impression I was trying to avoid but obviously gave anyway.
Those were just the ultra-weird moments. The worst moment was when I was walking to join a friend for coffee and a scooter riding abreast of an SUV and another scooter almost ran into them on a roundabout because he was busy looking at me. I know this because I watched his helmet slowly follow me until he was looking behind his shoulder instead of at the other cars and I wanted to point and yell but I was trying to pretend like I didn't notice that he was staring at me. And no one seemed bothered by this. Not him, not the other drivers. Weird. Oh no, maybe they were looking too.
Later, on my way home from the store an elderly man on a bike rode slowly by me and as his head swiveled to watch me walk by he leaned so far over that he almost fell off his bike.
In the last weeks I have watched men walk into buildings, into other people, and into the path of vehicles; they've stepped into holes in the sidewalk, off curbs and over tables. Leif wants to call it "The Leif Effect" because it's his theory that I glow from knowing how much I'm loved and it's impossible not to want to look at it. I'm wondering if it isn't something in the water or the air.
I don't mind a little subtle appreciation but it's reached a point where it's not only ridiculous, it appears like it's becoming dangerous. And I'm not the only woman this happens to. I see it happen all over town to other women. It's like a weird epidemic and we have yet to find the cure, although there probably isn't a cure for being an Italian male and if there was no one would want it. I've decided never to leave the house without an escort until this phenomenon ends.