LTR Piropos

6 Sep

My relationship with the construction worker down the street is advancing to whole new levels these days. I see him every day on my way to and from work, ever since they started construction there. It’s been at least a month, so we’re already into long-term relationship mode.

We were taking things slowly. First he just whistled at me. Then one day an older man was walking down the street at the same time as me, in the opposite direction, and I told the man, “Creo que le está chiflando a Ud.”- I think he’s whistling at you. I thought he’d laugh, but instead he nodded seriously. Maybe he didn’t get it. I don’t know if he went to complain to the construction worker or what, but soon after that the construction worker started yelling, so I’d know his whistle was intended for me and not other old men, or, say, the dog walking by at the same time.

“Guera!” he calls out after the whistle, “guera” meaning something like “light-skinned person, feminine” (guero being the masculine version, and both words being slang only in Mexico, I’m pretty sure). Still I ignored him, because, well, I didn’t have anything to say to him. Without getting into all the personal-political ramifications, I’m pretty convinced that catcalling of this type is much more about posturing for other men than it is about expecting any response from the woman.

But Friday morning he stepped it up a notch. He whistled a couple times, and then shouted, “Guera! Te amo!” Wow! He loves me! He said he loves me! Considering the fact that I’d never even turned to look at him, it’s a pretty drastic statement. If he’s already capable of loving me and we’ve never even locked eyes, imagine what could happen over dinner and a movie!

Even though I don’t respond to his unsolicited attention, I have to admit that his declaration of love brought a smile to my face. First of all, it’s beautifully absurd. He didn’t even say “te quiero” which could imply wanting me as much as loving me. No, straight to the verb amar, pure love. Did I mention we’ve never been closer than 10 feet to each other? So it’s pretty funny.

Secondly, it kind of reminded me of the piropos – the catcalls- in Paraguay. There was never any crudeness to it. Paraguayan men would whisper things like “Qué hermosa sos”- how pretty you are, or “Bonitos ojos”- nice eyes, or the really outlandish, “Hola, linda”- hello, pretty. They’d say stuff like this as they passed me, not being hostile or intimidating. Or they’d invite me to drink tereré, the national green tea beverage that people share from the same cup and straw. I even did stop and drink tereré with strangers a couple of times. That’s how comfortable I felt in the situation. (Granted, I don’t know if all men in Paraguay always catcall in this polite, respectable manner or if I just got lucky in the couple of months I spent there.) Of course, there’s still underlying sexism and rape culture in the fact that men feel entitled to comment on women’s bodies/attractiveness constantly, which is anger-inducing and wearisome when it builds up on you. But if it’s going to happen anyway, let it be Paraguay-style, please! Or let it be someone professing their love to me like the construction worker down the street!

It’s much better than some of the straight-out-of-a-porn comments I’ve gotten in the U.S. It’s much better than hostility. It’s much better than the aggressiveness, like the young guy on the scooter the other day, who asked me where I lived and tried to insist on accompanying me home.

So on my way home on Friday, when my construction worker yelled “Guera!” at me, I actually turned in his direction. I laughed a bit, because I was still thinking about his great love for me. He waved from the roof and said “Adios! Guera, adios!” There’s a piropo I can live with long term.

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