Spunk? Who Uses That Word Anyway?

On my way home from work, I jumped on the L train and took a seat next to a man trying to hog the space next to him by sitting with his legs spread. I don’t go for that kind of crap, especially during rush hour. He made room for me, but he kept looking me over and I just knew he was going to say something. Here’s how the exchange when down, by far the most heated and close quartered holla back yet:

Him: You have beautiful eyes.
I turn my head slowly and look him in the face.
Him: Your eyes? (he gestures to his own) They’re beautiful.
Me: (slowly and forcefully) “I don’t care what the fuck you think. I don’t need your fucking compliments. So shut the fuck up.”
He is absolutely astounded. “Who the fuck do you think you are, talking to me like that?”
Me: Who the fuck do you think you are talking to me at ALL?
Him: We’re on the subway together–
Me: That doesn’t give you the fucking right to talk to me.
Him: You don’t have the right to talk to me like that. Maybe next time I’ll say something derogatory. How bout that?
Me: Leave me the fuck alone.
Him: You need to watch the way you talk to me.
Me: Then why don’t you quit talking to ME?
Him: No wonder New York is so shitty…
Me: Yeah, because it’s got you in it.
Him: Oh, me? You’re nothing but a white racist.
Me: I’m not racist. I’m not even white. And you’re a sexist.
Him: Not white, oh, what are you then, orange?
Me: Now you’re going to tell me what race I am? [I should have said, “Oh, we got an ethnographer here!”]

At this point it just turns into a stupid repetition of the first few exchanges. I finally just ignore him and go back to my book. He is still reveling from my decline of his compliment and the demand for privacy and peace… Finally, after a few minutes…
Him: (Shaking head) Well I will say this, you got spunk.
Me: Shhh. (keeps reading) [Should have said: If you ever have a daughter I hope “spunk” is enough to keep her from getting raped.]
Him: Did you hear me?

Nothing else is said, but he keeps making these mock astounded gestures and huffy noises. When I get off I make sure to look him right in the eyes one last time (how sexy am I now, fucker?), holding my head high and slightly squinting my eyes in contempt. I don’t know
what washed over his face, surprise? fear? Well I’m not afraid of you, fucker. I’m not anything
you can wrap your tiny brain around, and I’ll talk however I want. That’s what you get when you try to assert your opinions on any given woman. And I’m not the only one who talks back, not by a long shot.

In retrospect, it really surprised me that he’d immediately jump to racism (I guess he was black,
maybe some Latino too?). Oh, because I responded angerly to his pathetic mack I *must* hate his race. I love that shit–a man alluding to equal rights. If I was a man he wouldn’t have said a word to me. If there was true “equality” I would be granted the same silence and respect as a man. I will NEVER take my silence, broken by clumsy implications of my alleged “beauty,” as a compliment. Never.

Submitted by Kate.

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