I could feel his desert-dry breath brush against my recently exfoliated cheek; that’s how close he was to me. I could feel the impact of every syllable of his salacious words emphatically rush towards me like a wave of uninvited lust.
“I love the way you look, Baby.” Seven simple words dressed up in the clothes of street harassment. As the phrase exploded on my person like a verbal grenade, I had that moment of inner turmoil that is far too common to too many women:
How should I respond here?
I really want to yell, ”Who are you calling “Baby”? You didn’t birth me. You ain’t my man or my daddy. MOVE!”
Should I slap this fool being this dang close to my face? No, I can’t. What if he grabs me? He is close enough to pull me.
Should I tell him where he and his tired lines should go? No. He might call me a “B&%$#” and then I will actually have to slap him, and then we’ll be fighting, and he’s bigger than me so he might beat on me.”
As I turmoiled and he lingered in my personal space, I quickly uttered a contrived, “Thank you,” and walked out of the grocery store.
I thanked him.
I thanked him for violating my personal space.
I thanked him for reducing me to a mere object for his momentary pleasure.
I thanked him for making me feel so fearful of my personal safety that the only reasonable response I could think of was to say thank you so I would not be further subjected to harm, physical or psychological.
I thanked him as the fare for my safe passage out of his way.
And unfortunately, far too many women are forced to pay this passage as they’re met with these unwelcome situations daily.
So now I wonder: how should I handle these situations? What is the right response as a woman? What would you have done? Cause honestly, while I hate that I said thank you, I’m grateful I walked away safely from that situation.