I was with a friend the other day, and we somehow started talking about the random things strangers have said to us as we go about our day, traversing the sidewalks of NYC. After swapping a few of our most memorable stories, she stared at me and said, "Wow. People say the weirdest, most f**cked up shit to you."
I don't know if this is true, and I'm sure there are others with stories that top mine. But it is true that many people feel comfortable just passing me and saying things to my face that astonish me.
Here are the 12 most memorable things people have said to me on the sidewalks of New York City, the neighborhood where they were said, and the time of day. Some are funny. Some are puzzling. All were said to me without any provocation from myself.
1. "Hey hey, I like fish, I like sushi, I want to eat out your sushi, gimme that sushi."
-- Young man, Washington Heights, Morning
2. "Chinese! Chinese girl! Do you have take out? Chinese!"
-- Young girl, Red Hook, Afternoon
-- Man, Upper East Side, Night (Note: He also bowed as he said it. This is what made it memorable).
4. "What do you have against me, is it my big, black dick?"
-- Young man, Gramercy, Early Evening
5. "Are you on or off? When do you get off? How much?"
-- Cab driver, Midtown Manhattan, Early Evening
6. "You people are horrible. You are filthy, you ought to have been all killed with the bomb. You are disgusting, you disgust me, you ought to all be wiped out."
-- Older woman, Columbus Circle Manhattan, Early Afternoon
7. "You gotta get off the stuff, man, it'll ruin your life. For real, you gotta get off the stuff."
-- Man, Subway as the train pulled into the Times Square 1 Stop, Afternoon
8. "Can I sing to you? I want to sing you a love song I wrote." *Sings song* "Thank you, have a lovely evening!"
-- Man, East Midtown Manhattan, Night
9. "If you and your boyfriend are having the sex, you should listen to this man, and the sex will be good, very good."
-- Cab driver, Washington Heights, Evening
10. "I don't care how sexy you Asian women are, I like my black women, you hear, I like my black women."
-- Man, Stuyvesant Town Manhattan, Night
11. "Are you 13? You're 13, 14 right? Do you have a boyfriend?"
-- Cab Driver, Midtown Manhattan, Day (Note: I was 23 at the time).
12. "See my friend over there? He really likes Asians."
-- Man, West Village, Evening
As I look back at these words that have been seared into my brain, the reflection back is so distorted I can't even see myself.
But that's the thing, I suppose. It isn't me. It's other people projected onto me, turning me into something that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with themselves.