I'm Drinking Red Bull 'Cause I Want Your Body
Diatribe of a disgruntled New Yorker
By Hannah Levine
Cat Call (-kôl?) : (Noun) When a guy gives the wert whirl whistle or yells at a babydoll for the purpose of getting attention and in hopes of a future hookup. This is usually done out of the window of a car. Typically a Pontiac Firebird, or Camaro.
- Urban Dictionary
I wonder if anyone is currently walking the planet as the result of a cat call. If one day, the skies opened up just as the schlub on the corner yelled, "Hey Mami, you look so good from behind [insert whistle]!" and the woman he berated turned around in a passionate embrace and made love to him, right then and there.
I find this very doubtful. In fact, I would be utterly aghast if a single cat call in the history of cat calls ever got someone laid - or ever got them a date. Yet, everyday, like clockwork, I get at least one car honk (bass blasting, of course) followed by a "Damn, baby, you lookin' good in those jeans/ boots/ earmuffs/ Eeyore-pajama-pants-because-I-just-woke-up-and-am-only-outside-to-get-a-bagel, dickwad."
I sometimes feel inclined to carry a boombox on my shoulder, Do The Right Thing! style, while blasting the breakdown to En Vogue's "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)," every time I pass by a group of construction workers. Just as a preliminary measure. Never gonna get it. Never gonna get it. Never get it. You'll never get it.
It's funny how the cat calls differ by neighborhood. When I was living in Spanish Harlem, the protocol was the "pssst...pssst." Unlike the "Hey, baby," or the whistle, the "pssst" is not just a one shot deal. The "pssst" usually follows you down the block, until you get on the subway, or enter a bodega, or flip the bird and run away. In Washington Heights, I got a lot of kissy sounds, i.e., "I love you, sexy! [insert excessive slobbery lipsmacking]."
In Bushwick, the calls often focused on my eyes, my hair, and well, the expected body parts. Sometimes, the misogyny became extremely creative with its use of similes. "Your body is like a garden, ma. I want to plant my seed in it." "Girl, your eyes are like sunrise." Dude, I've been staring at the pavement since Halsey Street because of people like you. There's no way you even caught a glimpse of my eyes. They might as well be neon pink.
Recently, as I waited for the light on 1st Avenue, an older man in a Corona sweatshirt that did not fully cover his Corona gut strutted right up to me, leaning back to get a better view.
"You're gonna' need that Red Bull," he said, "after what I'm gonna do to you!" Green Light. Fast walking away. "Save that energy, baby! Save that energy for me!"
That's right, stylish Corona Gut Man, I'm drinking Red Bull just for you! Not because I haven't slept a wink in three days, was writing a paper on gender and sexuality in politics last night until 6 a.m. (I'm sure you could enlighten me on this topic) and now have to act alert at work. Every single one of these 500 milligrams of caffeine and 39 grams of sugar is for you, you sexy beast. I've waited my whole life for this moment.
So who are these street-corner cat callers, anyway? And why are they up at 9 a.m., other than to inform me of the value of my nether regions? Seriously, as someone who is not alive until I inject the proper two cups of caffeine, it is unfeasible to me that anyone could exert that amount of energy for the sole purpose of being a douchebag. Especially without the slimmest chance at success.
I figure it must be the thrill of the call that compels these creatures to populate outside of deli awnings and subway stations. Since there are often packs of them whistling, the phenomenon could be, at least in part, a contagious social disease.
After Corona Gut Man, I began to wonder if these callers would even know how to respond to a call-back. I decided to test out this theory on 64th Sstreet and Lexington Avenue.
"What's goin' on, beauuutiful?" the first construction worker called, as I crossed the street to where the five of them were taking a (perpetual?) cigarette break.
"Bow chicka wow wow," the second one followed. Of course, the other three began whistling (Social Disease Theory: proven).
I strolled past them down the block to the tune of "work that ass, ma!" But once I neared the corner of 63rd, I turned around, abruptly.
"Whose ass?" I asked. "Mine?"
All five creatures looked dumbfounded. "Are you talking about my ass, gentlemen?" I raised the question once more. Hesitation. Silence. Success! I strutted away, victorious.
But four seconds later, I heard another whistle. "You look damn good from behind. Get that ass back over here!"
Oh well. I guess you can't change these creatures in one day. After all, animals are trained by repetition. I hope this will at least inspire you ladies to call out your cat callers' bluff (under safe circumstances). And if that approach doesn't appeal to you, I also enjoy sticking out my tongue, making the ugliest face possible, and yelling at the top of my lungs like a monster.