Girls Are Right Not To Talk To You In The City

Girls Are Right Not To Talk To You In The City

“How’s the writing going?” he asked.
 
I could feel the mist of laughter crawling up from my intestines.
 
“What?” he asked, wondering why I was smiling.
“I got bombarded last night,” I replied.
“Why?”
 
“I shared a short story about how I sat next to a girl at the train station and how after a few sentences, she got up and left, and I said how that’s not a reflection of me, that’s the reflection of the city we live in. I posted it up online and people began leaving comments in the comments section that weren’t exactly too pretty.”
 
My friend leaned back in his chair, tilted his head one way, and lifted his shoulders as if to emphasize how the air was slowly climbing his lungs, inflating them, and releasing the air through his nostrils.
 
“What did they say?” he said, reluctantly.
“Well, there was obviously a few crazies,” I said, “But, the typical notion was that maybe she just didn’t want to talk to me.’”
“Well, maybe she didn’t.”
“Yeah,” I said, lifting my eyebrows and nodding. “She didn’t.”
 
My friend’s head tilted back as if my words pushed against his forehead. The unlikely precedent that I would actually agree with him on such a subject appeared to be unexpected. He must have been expecting the typical preordained argument.
 
“So, you agree with them?” my friend said, nodding as if doing so would persuade himself that he was making progress.
 
“Yeah, completely,” I replied, “But, that’s not because of me. That’s because of other people. All she knows about me is that I wear an expensive coat and a nice scarf.”
 
My friend rolled his eyes.
 
“Well, you might have come off as direct,” he said.
 
“No. I don’t come off as direct. I come off as tired, condescending, and uninterested in people. Other people come off as direct. They go around failing everywhere they go, saying things to themselves like, well that girl just has a stick up her butt. That doesn’t typically happen with me, not on an individual level. I tend to be quite unpopular in group settings because I’m so different and I don’t connect with everyone, but on my own, people tend to be quite accepting. When someone asks how your day was because you both have to wait for a train, they don’t just get up and leave, not unless you’re in a place like San Francisco, or New York, or Paris. Everywhere else, people just get bored of talking. People run out of things to say. It’s normal. It’s natural. But, in a place like San Francisco, a few sentences is a threat, so much so that people get up and leave before people could really say anything at all.”
 
My friend was attentive, but it was obvious that he wasn’t yet convinced.
 
“You know why we say hi to each other in the workplace?” I asked.
“Because it’s nice,” my friend replied.
“Exactly. We don’t just get up and leave. Why?”
“. . . because that’s rude,” he replied, feeling cornered in having to respond.
“Exactly,” I replied, “Could you imagine if some girl goes into a store and asks a question, and the guy that works there decided he’s not interested, so he just leaves.”
“Yeah, but these are places people work at,” he replied.
 
“Yeah, they are. There are social guidelines so that everyone feels comfortable. Now, let’s move out of the workplace and into the real world. Let’s say you ask for directions. Do you just put your hand in front of someone’s face and walk away. No, you say that you don’t know or you help them. Let’s say someone asks for the time, do you come up with possible scenarios as to where this might lead or question his intentions before doing so. No, but you do in San Francisco. In a normal place, you just tell them the time. If you’re stuck waiting for the train and someone asks you how your day is going, do you just get up and leave? No, but you do in San Francisco. An old man with a cane sits next to you anywhere else, and starts talking to you about how the train station was built back in the 1950’s, you sit there and listen. A guy comes up to me and tells me he likes my shoes and asks me where I bought them, I tell him where I bought them. And then we talk until I realize that that guy is hitting on me and doing so in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable. Then I leave. Same if it’s a girl that I’m not attracted to. But, if someone asks me how my day was and the first thing I do is think of excuses as to how to leave that conversation before it even starts, I’m just being rude.”
 
“Well, yeah, of course people need to be nicer to other people,” my friend replied.
 
“No!” I exclaimed.
 
My friend’s head jolted back.
 
“What do you mean, no?” he asked, befuddled as if I was going directly against everything that I was saying.
 
“She was right not to talk to me,” I exclaimed. “Do you know how many weirdos are in San Francisco? You could be nice anywhere else, but we’re here. We’re in a city where almost everyone we meet has hidden intentions. There are parts of the city where we’re not even supposed to go to because of how bad it is. I’m not complaining that this girl got up and left because I asked her how her day was. I respect it. Anywhere else, anyone would have responded like a normal person and said that they’re doing okay. Here, people get up and leave. That’s just the way the city is. There’s no hope for kindness amongst strangers in a place like San Francisco. That’s a fiction. Why would you open your heart to a city where everyone is desperate and constantly trying to take advantage of you? I might be a normal person, but the issue isn’t that I’m a nice person, the issue is that the next person might not be.”
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