In today’s mail bag, I ask an American hero for help, send a postcard to a congressman, and try to catch up with an old friend.
Letter Talk is a short (~10 minutes), comedy podcast where a I (@alyssapants) write letters to anyone about anything, and I’d be honored to write one to you.
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- Letter Talk is written and produced by me, and my sister Amy edits my writing. This episode features music from Kevin MacLeod.
Read the letters after the jump!
Dear Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,
I’m writing to you because you seem to me to be the de facto leader of American men. For some time now, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about cat calling, because it’s always horrifying and disconcerting. Being a woman who is of an average to smaller size, it’s easy to be on edge, worrying about your safety.
As much as I feel that I’m a strong lady, I admit that I’ve made concessions to try to avoid people shouting at me. I wear loose flowey skirts because I have gotten too many people screaming about “dat ass” and the like. If I don’t have a skirt, I try to look pretty fucking dumpy instead. Loose unflattering sweats, hopefully stained with butter or grease, and my trusty beanie. If anything I’ve toned down my dress over the years because I’m just tired and don’t want to hear it.
So far the best option has just been to wear earbuds and keep walking — but I feel guilty doing this because it doesn’t change anything, does it? Can we really expect that after being ignored enough these dudes will stop shouting? Or maybe they will shout so much, they lose their voices and then learn sign language to say “Ey yo ma — you booful!” As much as a part of me finds the accessibility of that possibility appealing, I feel like it’s still a future where scary dudes think it’s ok to comment on our bodies.
I’ve tried other things. Once I screamed “FUCK YOU, SHUT THE FUCK UP!” … which is decidedly uncharacteristic of me when I’m sober. But I had already had a mental breakdown about death and the eventual mortality of all my love ones that day, so I was already in danger of going super saiyan, just sayin’.
I recounted my tales of street harassment to a guy I knew and he offered to relate to me by telling me a story of him crossing a street. A man in a car who was trying to make a right turn shouted at him, “Don’t worry, the cars will wait for you!” Obviously implying that he was being slow and absent-minded. The storyteller than fumed for a few minutes about that man yelling at him. I was dumbfounded that even told me that story, partially because he was likely getting shouted at for doing something wrong. Dude was slow as shit, and some dude needed to be somewhere, who knows? The car was probably an ambulance and he was too absent-minded to realize he should speed it up and be aware of his surroundings. Just like he was too absent-minded to realize that it wasn’t a very good attempt at empathy. Part of me wanted to respond, “Ok, now imagine that you didn’t do anything wrong and also that guy made you feel threatened physically, sexually or otherwise.” I told my sister Amy about the guy getting scolded by the motorist and she laughed her head off at the story.
Another approach I’ve taken is to calmly and concisely tell them to stop. I would say, “Please don’t do that. It’s really mean.” Me, of course, believing that most people are reasonable and just don’t realize that what they’re doing is unwanted. I walked by a man who was throwing pretzels at birds. He was sitting outside of a sandwich shop. (An aside: I will not name said shop because I need free sandwiches before I buzz market any sandwich eateries in my illustrious podcast. I’m not immune to sandwich sponsorships either. I will wear gym shorts with your logo if it means I get free sandwiches.) The man shouted, “Hey, you pretty and cute.” I turned him and while I kept walking, I calmly said, “Please don’t do that. It’s really mean.” and of course, being a reasonable man, he responded, “WHAT’S MEAN ABOUT THAT! YOU PRETTY AND CUTE!” and he just kept screaming “YOU PRETTY AND CUTE” over and over after me. Thank god he didn’t follow me. I didn’t turn around and look, but I’m sure all his bird friends were holding him back saying, “She’s not worth it, man!”
I was still a bit shaken up as I was walking, admittedly, because I always am when people shout things at me. I began to think about what I could do to avoid this stuff that happens so often. I began to wish there was some sort of Trojan Horse-like rolling structure I could hide in so nobody could really see me. Then I realized I accidentally invented the car.
My next experiment will be to yell that I have the constant shits or maybe give them a pamphlet about Scientology and tell them they can find me at the Scientology Church. But otherwise, I think I will go back to what I was doing: having earbuds in, pretending I didn’t hear them and scooting away in fear as fast as possible. But this is why I’m writing you for help. I’ve told catcallers that it’s unwanted, and that didn’t work. Granted, it may be a pipe dream to want to reason with people who think shouting at strangers is acceptable behavior. Since I know every man in America looks up to you, their humble king, I think you could tell them to shut the fuck up and they’d listen. Or maybe you could tell them to at least tell their friends to stop this. Please layeth the Smackdown on their candy asses, which that phrase, oddly enough is what catcallers have said they want to do to me.
Thanks in advance for your help and good luck in your upcoming presidential bid.
I gotta admit, between you and French Stewart, you’re my least favorite “French.” I think you’re also the only two “Frenches” I know.
Anyway, I think you should make like the actual French and support reasonable gun laws! Kaboom! That’s a “kaboom” of progress, not the sound of a firearm.
I still love 3rd Rock from the Sun,
I’m just writing to ask how you’ve been. I haven’t seen you in a while and me and crew are worried about you. I used to see you every time I went out. You’d be out and about… in most shopping centers, near gas stations, and around the corner from the mall. But over the years I feel like I haven’t seen you as much.
I looked up where you might be in my area, and it looks like I’d have to drive out to the suburbs to see you. I’ve enclosed a map.
What happened, man? You used to be cool. You should be downtown with all the hipsters. You had those commercials with the gremlin things. It was tight as fuck, but now I just see you out in the neighborhoods where people go to raise their families.
I thought that’s where you might have gone, you know? We’re all getting older. I’m getting to a point in my life where my friends are married and have kids. They’re moving to the suburbs to start the next step of their lives. I figured you might be one of those, Quiznos. I mean, the further along I travel in life, the more I realize that it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen to anybody in the future. I thought I’d always get to go downtown and get a sick, hot, toasted melty sub from my dudes at the Q, but you know, sometimes it’s just not meant to be.
Anyway, man, please let me know if you’re ever in downtown Baltimore again. I’d love to see you again. I’ll make sure to make a special trip out to see you, too. The thing about friendship, is that it’s a two way street, and if you want to keep your friends, you gotta put in the time. And really, our friendship is something I’d never want to let go of … especially since the last time I saw you, you made a me a lobster sub that was tasty as fuck.
Hopin’ to see you around soon, my dude.