So last week I discovered that the absolute worst place to be on a warm Saturday morning is the bus station in Lugo. It is full of outrageously creepy old men.
I was picking my friend Mickal up, and I got there ten minutes early and her bus was ten minutes late, so I ended up standing there for twenty minutes total, which the men take as a sign that a girl is not there for vehicular reasons.
Two men talked to me in that time, the first one was absolutely unintelligible. He looked like that old man that Aladdin finds in the dungeon who leads him to the cave where the lamp is. All toothless and grinning. I told him I was not from here and that I did not understand. He went away.
A short time later, a less crazy-looking man, who was probably in his early 70’s, came up to me and said (all in Spanish):
“Hello good-looking girl. Where are you traveling?”
I would have talked to him and answered his question because I am an innocent idiot who doesn’t like to just ignore people who talk to me, but the “good-looking girl” put me on edge. So I just looked away.
“Do you want to come have a coffee with me?”
At this point I was grossed out and shocked and i chose a strategy other than ignoring him, which was pretending I didn’t understand.
“I’m not from here, I don’t understand,” I told him.
“Oh, you don’t understand me? but you are speaking perfect Spanish”
Here I almost told him that I’d learned enough to be able to tell people I didn’t understand, but just in time realized that would blow my rock-solid cover. So I said nothing.
“So if I asked you to come have a coffee, you wouldn’t understand me?”
“I don’t understand what you are saying to me.” Oh, fuck.
He totally realized that I was understanding every word he said and hung around me for a while, protesting about how I actually did speak Spanish and continuing to invite me for a coffee, but I just looked really uncomfortable and didn’t answer him anymore. After a while, he realized he couldn’t force me to understand him, so he walked away.
I was left feeling totally disgusting but also trying really hard not to laugh about how poorly-executed my pretending not to understand was. It was funny because it wasn’t scary. It was morning and a lot of people were around, so it wasn’t frightening, otherwise, it wouldn’t be funny at all.
But like, what? Did he think I was a prostitute? That is more acceptable to me than him thinking I was just a regular girl who would maybe want to go have sex with him. But either way, it’s really annoying that a man sees a woman and thinks that it’s in his right to ask for sex from her—that that’s all we are for. I mean, I am just assuming he wanted sex, because why would he just want to have coffee? And why did he think I would ever say yes? I don’t know. I am not quite sure how best to analyze this event to identify the exact reasons why it’s annoying and a sign of a sexist society. Help me out, seasoned feminists. You know who you are.