A few days before New Years I was walking through Chapters, browsing books when the song “Seasons of Love” (from the musical Rent) come on the store’s stereo system. I started humming along to the song’s chorus:
“Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes…”
It’s a beautiful song and while listening to it I should have been having a misty-eyed moment about love and loss and everything that has happened this year but instead what popped into my head was: “That’s how long it feels like since someone has tried to hit on me.”
In truth it hasn’t been a year, it’s really only been about two months. Since arriving in my hometown for my extended visit from Toronto I haven’t been the recipient of a single cheesy pick-up line, cat-call or creepy side glance…at least none that I have noticed. Lately, it’s like I’m the Invisible Woman and it’s starting to freak me out. Without encounters with guys like Lunch Dude or Pervy Single Dad, where am I supposed to get inspiration for snarky blog posts?
This has only made me realize what a hot bed of sexual harassment and unwanted male attention the city of Toronto is. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I find it’s almost impossible to go anywhere in Toronto without getting hit on by someone.
Take my old neighborhood for example. Everyday when I’d walk by the Greek cafes where the old men would sit out front smoking and drinking espresso, some old fart would always holler some kind of incomprehensible but surely disgusting cat call (which always made me grateful I can only understand a few words of Greek). My neighborhood also had no shortage of low rider cars with drivers who would lean out the window and yell “Yo mamacita…how you doing?” over the pounding chugga chugga chugga bass of the reggaeton song blasting out of their car stereo.
Then, there was the Dufferin Mall where you could show up wearing no make-up and a giant parka and still be guaranteed to get hit on by a teen thug, someone’s baby daddy or an old Portuguese grandpa who will grab your arm while you’re lined up in the food court just to tell you in broken English that you remind him of his dead wife.
Last spring I even got chatted up in the waiting room of H&R Block which is just slightly more sexy than being hit on in the waiting room of the gynecologists office – something that hasn’t happened to me…yet. It’s a hot mess out there and Torontonians have no shame in their game.
I’m convinced that none of these scenarios would happen in my hometown. I’m not even sure if the opposite sex speaks to each other (unless you’ve known eachother since kindergarten and even then…)
My best friend and I have come up with a few theories on why male/female relations are so stand offish in Victoria:
1) People are either too married or too old. The myth about Victoria is that it’s the land of “the newly wed and nearly dead.” We have the highest percentage of retirees of all cities in Canada with approximately 6.4 percent of the population over the age of 80. Decent single guys who still have all their teeth get snatched up pretty fast.
2) People are too laid back. Between all the kayaking, biking, hiking, canoeing, boogie boarding, vision quests, endless coffee shop visits and crystal healing seminars who has time to hit on people? Rejection might like, totally harsh your chill vibe.
3) People are too stoned to care. Given BC’s reputation for it’s excellent marijuana and what goes down at my parent’s friend’s dinner parties, this is actually a very real possibility.
4) People are too politically correct. This is a government town. Lots of people work for the provincial public service which means they have to attend mandatory anti-sexual harassment awareness seminars. People are afraid. To say or do anything.
5) The problem is me. Have I let myself go and become fugly? Because seriously, I feel like I am sporting an invisible uni-brow wherever I go.[My best-friend interjected here and said it’s not that I look any different, it’s just that post-break up I’m putting out a clear “don’t fucking touch me” vibe.]
Well, it’s something because up until a few days ago this is the only thing I’ve experienced that comes anywhere close to “flirtation”.
It’s OK, my own life gives me nightmares too.
On New Years Eve, I got chatted up by one guy who revealed within seconds of the conversation he was from…yes, Toronto. This explains why he was talking to me however, it doesn’t explain why he was wearing suspenders and a gold tie clip. Was his outfit meant to be ironic? I never found out. I snapped his suspenders (probably giving him nipple chafing in the process) and told him:
“Nice outfit. It’s very 1980’s investment banker. Kind of like you’re channeling Patrick Bateman‘s wardrobe”
He wasn’t sure what to say. We chatted for a few more minutes before he asked “What’s your name again?” and politely excused himself. I’m starting to think #5 is true. Maybe I’m just a giant asshole.
I was still mulling this over in my head when I headed to McDonald’s the next day for my annual New Years Day Filet o’ Fish meal. All my questions from the past two months were answered when I went up to the counter to ask for extra napkins and the guy serving me said:
“Here you go…SIR”
Now I get it!
Everyone thinks I’m a dude.
This totally explains why the first thing New Years Guy blurted out as soon as he met me was:
“I’M NOT A HOMOSEXUAL”[Disclaimer: I know that sexual harassment is a serious issue. Making unwanted sexual advances on anyone is totally not cool. However, when your life already seems a bit out of sorts, you cling to anything that feels “normal” – even if “normal” for you means a pantless homeless guy jumping out from behind a bush to greet you on a busy street.]