Ladyman (Bad Lines: Part Four)
Lunchbreak. Walking through the concourse below my office building. Always a cast of skeezy characters loitering, but this guy, I didn’t smell him coming. He was swaggering in a mildly idiotic way–he’s King of the World, a true man among lesser men. A gift that ladies should be so lucky to unwrap. Ugh. Veering a little closer, he tosses me a line, casual and suave:
“You’re a good looking lady, man.”
As in, I am an attractive transvestite? Take a look–no Adam’s apple bobs behind my scarf. Or, I’m an effeminate guy? Ok, my chest is modestly endowed but I hardly look like a dude. Or, is this just very bad diction, a vocal tick, “man” tacked onto the end of each sentence? It’s all in the inflection.
A girlfriend once told me the thing she loves most about New York is the way men compliment her like they are simply delivering a public service. Like she ought to know she looks fine and it’s their duty to keep her informed. No lewdness, no propositions, no attempts to get her number. Just a man telling her that today, she looks quite pretty, then carrying on his way.
In contrast, we agreed, Toronto men tend to the other extreme–shouting through car windows as they speed past, “heeeeyyyyy babyyyy wanna fuuuuuuuck?” Sucking their teeth, staring and nodding like they’re sizing up horses at the track. Pick-up lines that sound like subliterate text messages said aloud: “Baby U R hott 4 real.”
Of course, these are both grand generalisations. I’ve been hit on by more than a few unclassy New Yorkers, and captivated by my share of men here at home. Really, it’s all in the delivery–there’s no such thing as a good pick-up line; its success lies in how the line comes across. Now and then, someone cute saying something stupid can work like a charm, if he says it just so.