Put Down a Pickup and Keep Creepers at Bay


Published: April 9, 2009

One of the first things a lady learns when she moves to New York City is that, just like pigeons and subway rats, creepy men are a token part of the landscape. Back at home in the suburbs, there was your occasional senior citizen who would get a little too friendly or a lonely construction worker who might reach out for some decidedly inappropriate human contact, but New York City creeps are a whole different breed. Though they come in a variety of ages and ethnicities, they all have a few things in common: they’re not cute, you’d never date them and they make you feel completely uncomfortable. Since you don’t have your dad or an older brother with you at all times to scream, “Do you want to die today?” at the landscapers whistling in the distance, you’re going to have to develop some street skills. Wearing a turtleneck, a full-body snowsuit or even a sign that reads “I’m married with three kids” won’t deter this persistent bunch, but if you’re armed with these few simple tools and subtly discouraging actions, you’ll be able to fend off these lusty “suitors” without having to call for backup.

The Bar

If you’re not already aware, bars are breeding grounds for pick-up line aficionados and drunken idiots. You must always go into a bar prepared for battle.  One weapon that should always be tucked into an easily accessible area of your purse is a cubic zirconium version of a stunning wedding ring. You may not really be dating anyone, but guess what, now you’re engaged. Your fiancé is a weightlifter, a boxer or some other equally buff threat. If you’re trying to fend off a guy the size of a professional wrestler, your fiancé has recently been released from jail for aggravated assault. He may have rendered the last guy who hit on you incapable of walking, but you still love him. A lot. In fact, you talk about him so much that even the drunkest of creeps will find your endless raving impossible to sit through. Before long, he’ll head to the back of the bar, where he might have some luck with a girl on the verge of alcohol poisoning.

The Street

The enemy will strike at unexpected times, like when you’re minding your own business, speed walking to work or taking a stroll to the grocery store with your list in hand. You hear “Hey baby” and turn to see a smirking creep standing in the doorway of a nearby building. What’s wrong with this scenario? Your first mistake is that you heard this weirdo in the first place.  Headphones are an invaluable tool when you’re walking through the concrete jungles of NYC. Even if you can’t afford an iPod, or somehow don’t enjoy music, you’ve got to have an extra pair of headphones lying around. When entering a questionable area, make sure your ears are covered, and to walk looking straight ahead. Though men may not refrain from making comments, they’ll quickly become disinterested in a girl who can’t even hear their lewd remarks and they’ll promptly move on to the next victim. One point to keep in mind: when your hearing is disabled, your other senses need to be on high alert. You don’t want to walk into oncoming traffic or be assaulted from the side because you’re oblivious to your surroundings.

The Store

Most college-aged girls don’t enter a deli looking for a love connection with the butcher cutting Boar’s Head behind the counter. Unfortunately, sometimes the man toasting your bagel or heading into the back room to find your size in those adorable sandals is looking for a good time on the job. Saying “Here you go, sweetie” is one thing, but if he’s sizing you up and asking if you like to dance, it’s time to get on defense.  Baby pictures should serve as your initial line of fire. Get your hands on multiple pictures of a niece or nephew, a friend’s child or a baby from the Pampers commercial. When your admirer starts getting personal, whip out the photos, proclaiming that you have no time for enjoyment because you’re busy taking care of your five kids. In the rare case that this is a turn-on, resort to Plan B—a picture of a fluffy little dog that is fully clothed, shoes and all. Explain that because of your pesky children, you don’t have enough time to take your darling Princess for her weekly manicure. You’ll seem like a nut job, but that’s a small price to pay for an easy escape from this misguided Romeo.

What Not to Do

A while back, I learned the hard way that it is senseless to attempt to reform the men who insist on making their physical attraction verbal on the street. After he made a slew of sexually explicit comments to my friend, I decided to show one particular creep that he couldn’t scare us—by yelling back at him. The smirking middle-aged man began to walk toward my friend with his arms outstretched. I shouted for him not to touch her, but he was determined to make contact. As he came closer, it became apparent that his eyes were bright red and he was undoubtedly under the influence of something other than love. A brief shouting match ensued, resulting in my friend and I sprinting away from this intoxicated weirdo. Though I was proud for attempting to preserve our integrity, the frantic dash toward safety and lingering fear that he had followed us wasn’t worth my temporary satisfaction.

Though you may feel demeaned or frustrated, it’s almost always a better bet to ignore salacious comments made on the street. What does he know anyway? You could be deaf or from a country where the English language is spoken by less than one percent of the population. Although you should look the other way, you don’t have to feel powerless when met with unwanted advances. Stay equipped with your weapons of mass discouragement; be alert and be satisfied with knowing that these men will never have the pleasure of your company.