Friday, May 18, 2007

I know what the gentleman wanted.

Yesterday I was heading into the main terminal at Grand Central Station, dressed for success, as I was on my way to New Haven to speak at the LifeTales reception. A man (thirty-something black guy, nice-looking, wearing a suit) stopped me and said: "Excuse me... Do you know if they made an announcement that Your Majesty would be here today wearing that beautiful dress?"

Didn't see that coming, did you? Neither did I, which is my excuse for not coming up with a snappy comeback. (I wish I could have seen the expression on my face -- I just said, "No..." and walked off, aloof as Marian Paroo, or so I hoped.) But seriously, what is the appropriate response here? I don't even know what the intended effect could possibly be. I suppose he gets points for creativity -- it beats "Hey baby, nice rack" -- but if you're going to hit on some random woman, why the false pretenses? Does throwing her off her game like that really increase your odds? Or was this guy just the verbal equivalent of a flasher? "Excuse me, I'm just asking you for directions OH NOW I'M COMMENTING ON YOUR LOOKS!" You thought I wasn't going to objectify you but guess what I am!

I would have assumed this was some sort of fraternity hazing stunt, except that the guy was too old, and he was far too well-dressed for a panhandler. And he looked like he should have known better, generally. But perhaps taking people by surprise is how this guy gets his kicks (although in that case, I would expect the "surprise" part of the sentence to be more crude and less fanciful). I wonder if he goes to bars and does the opposite? "Hey, baby, I've been watching you from over there all night, and I just had to ask... do you know whether the 2-3 is running express this weekend?"

I was meeting the fiance shortly thereafter, and I couldn't wait to tell him this story, but it took me a long time to manage it, because I started laughing every time I got to the "Your Majesty" part. (That guy must have rehearsed a lot to keep such a straight face.) And later that evening, I received a few genuine compliments on my dress (which is pretty, if I do say so myself, though not especially regal) from kind older ladies, and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. Or from saying, "Please, please: you may address me as 'Your Majesty.'" I have decided that I will now refer to that dress as "my imperial robes" or "my coronation gown" (e.g., "I'm glad my coronation gown is machine washable, because I have to wear it again next week"). And I have a feeling the fiance and I will be trying to ambush each other with hilariously convoluted compliments for months to come. "Did you already send in that deposit to the photographer, or should I do it right after I finish admiring how nice you look with your new haircut?" It's totally fun. Submit your ideas below!

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