The Plaid Pencil Skirt

This morning, on my way to work, I noted near the end of my subway ride that some days one can leave the house, freshly showered and coffeed, feeling pretty damn good about the day ahead, but by the time one is midway through the commute, find that all that optimism, energy, and compassion toward one’s fellow humans has evaporated. It was one of those mornings.

So I’ll admit I wasn’t feeling generous about the people cutting me off on the sidewalk as I approached the office. As I came around a corner, I noticed a tallish woman ahead of me in a simple white shirt and a fabulous black-and-red plaid pencil skirt. Plaid pencil skirts! I though to myself. That’s a trend I could really get into. We were going the same way, so I followed her for about a block. I won’t deny that she looked great from behind with the skirt fitting her curves and a pair of chunky-heeled boots setting off her long legs.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed. As I walked by a deli/lotto/coffee shop, a large man (I’d say about 6′ 3″ and barrel-chested) in a suit came strolling out, crossing the sidewalk without looking to see if he’d be cutting anybody off. He did cut off several people coming from the other direction, but he didn’t notice. His eyes found the retreating form of the woman in the plaid pencil skirt, and they stayed on her as his massive body continued in a lazy and unpredictable trajectory across the paths of numerous other people. He was so busy staring at her ass that he almost ran me over.

Let me be clear: I was walking in a straight line that should have kept me free from colliding with a person easily three times my size. But he was so confident not only in his right to walk across the sidewalk at a leisurely pace without looking where he was going, but also in his right to blatantly gawk at a woman’s body as she passed by, unwitting, that he would have hit me if I hadn’t dodged out of his way just in time. I shot a loud “fucking douchebag!” over my shoulder at him, and I was very close to stopping, turning around, and berating him loudly for being such an arrogant prick that he could have actually caused somebody bodily harm because he just had to gape at that woman’s posterior. But I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I had, he would have laughed at me. Me, a 5′ 1″ little girl, presuming that she had the right to call him out on his unacceptable display of fuckery. Pointing out to him that the aforementioned pencil skirt was, I’m certain, not worn so that he could leer at it with obviously lewd interest. Pointing out that I have a right to the sidewalk, too. No, he would have laughed, and I would have left just more infuriated, and possibly not had enough time to grab something for breakfast before work. I didn’t say anything to him because I’m sure it wouldn’t have made one bit of difference.

But, you know, I can write about it. So there it is.

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