Last night during the First Friday Art Walk, for the first time in my life, I got hit on. As a woman, I mean, by a man.
It was at the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA. I was staring at the work “Sturm und Drang,” by Stacy Howe, when a strong masculine voice spoke next to me. “Powerful piece, isn’t it?”
He was maybe 60, casually dressed, with artfully unkempt grey hair and beard, full unsmiling lips like my father’s lips, and aggressive eyes. Despite our similar heights I felt loomed over. I arranged my throat for the feminine voice I had been practicing all day. “It’s intense and disturbing,” I agreed.
He began to explicate, pointing out features. His voice was deep, and he spoke loudly. His comments were insightful, knowledgeable, and stated as fact. I felt invited to admire his intellect.
As he spoke he contrived to step back and give me the full-body once over. I was rocking the femme: sandals to show off my lavender toenails, a swirly above-the-knee black skirt, a skin-tight curve-enhancing spangly purple top, big twirly silver earrings, and my new ultra-femme designer glasses. I had my hair clipped back for a soft over-the-shoulder fall, and had made up my eyes.
I listened with my arms fenced across my front and felt acutely my lack of experience responding to a man on the prowl. I wondered if I thought he was attractive, but I was too discombobulated to tell. All I knew was that I didn’t have a clue what to do, and that I wanted to get away.
This proved hard to do. He controlled the conversational rhythm. He would pause for an affirmation, but then cut in again, leaving me no chance to disconnect.
I saw another woman approaching, attractive, physically confident, stylishly dressed. She tapped him on the shoulder. He made an impatient “wait a minute” gesture and turned to her. Clearly at least friends, they greeted each other, hugged, bantered. I gathered from their conversation that he was an artist, and retired. I could have walked away, but I didn’t.
Then he was focused on me again. The other woman hovered. Scraps of coherent thought flitted through my brain: should I drop a hint that I’m trans? He certainly seems practiced at this. Hm, I don’t feel required to have any ideas of my own. What’s with the frown line - doesn’t this man ever smile?
The other woman somehow snagged him back again, and I saw my opening. I touched his shoulder. “Sorry, I have to go,” I said. “Nice chatting with you.”
“Nice chatting with *you*,” he said, like a last reaching out of a hand, and then I was away, feeling giddy, relieved, gratified, womanly.
Whadayathink: should I go back next month?