When my boyfriend and I were searching for a new apartment in Brooklyn last year, one of the main draws of the place we live in now was its proximity to Prospect Park. A mere two blocks away from our building, the park was a huge bonus for me -- an avid outdoor runner and detester of funky gyms. What I didn't sign up for was the excessive attention from the men who I have to pass on my way back home after each run.
Something about being sweaty, gasping for air, and looking extremely unapproachable says to my harassers, “Yes. Go for it.” So I’ve mapped out some potential responses aimed to stop them in their tracks.
The Faux Encourager
What he’ll say: “Girl (it’s always “girl”), why’d you stop running? Keep going!”
This guy is particularly aggravating because he’s also the cousin of the man who will tell you to smile after a stressful day at work. They think they’re making your life better by barking commands at you, but no. They are not. This is not the NYC Marathon and I do not need shouts from the sidelines. If you ever encounter the faux encourager, try one of these techniques:
Respond [drily, for effect]: “Thanks, coach, but I’m done for the day.”
Yell [channeling Kanye circa “Spaceships”]: “You don’t know my struggle! You can’t match my hustle!”
Ask [semi-sincerely]: “Oh, how many miles did you run today?”
What he’ll say: “Hey girl, can I run with you?”
Despite the fact that the run is over, as evidenced by the walking home part, Sir Tag-Along is not deterred. Not even his dress pants, messenger bag, shoes, or coat can stop him from a spur-of-the-moment jog. When he asks, you can either:
Let him down [easily]: “No, I doubt it.”
Let him down [harshly]: Laugh your loudest laugh
Challenge him. Start running immediately and shout back: “Yeh! C’mon! Let’s go!” I promise he will not join you.
The Sexual Grunter
What he’ll do: Grunt sexually, simultaneously infuriating you and grossing you out.
What you’ll do: Shame him with a blank stare. This will work.
The Horn Honker
What he’ll do: Lay on his horn until you acknowledge him.
What you’ll do: Do not acknowledge him. Unless his car horn plays “La Cucaracha.” In which case, dance.
The Random Compliment Giver
What he’ll say: “Thank God for women!” or something similarly perplexing.
What you’ll do: Match him in ridiculousness by responding, “Yes, Praise God!”