I got a cat call the other day. I was out walking the dog when a young guy in a passing car made an approving noise out the window at me.
I can remember when cat calls began. My girlfriends and I were maybe 13, walking down West 140th Street in Cleveland, and guys started yelling out the window to us. At first, there was confusion. Were they talking to us? Then there was a little thrill. They were talking to us! Of course, even at that age we knew that the proper response was to roll our eyes and look disgusted. Who did they think they were, talking to us? (But they were talking to us!)
When we grew a little older, the feminist instinct kicked in. How dare they objectify us? Didn't they know that women are not impressed by cat calls, despite the commercial for Mr. Microphone where the guy says, "Hey good looking, we'll be back for you later!" much to the chagrin of his female companion? Pigs.
But I'll be honest with you. Completely honest. This 44-year-old mother's initial response was "Thank you thank you thank you." I admit it. I was doing a little dance inside, even though I quickly remembered to roll my eyes. I couldn't quite conjure up the disgusted look, mostly because I felt sorry for the driver. I'm pretty sure that once I looked up and he saw my 44-year-old mom face, he drove straight to the stress center for psychiatric help.
I haven't thought about cat calls in a while, primarily because, well, I haven't heard them in a long time. Somewhere between the feminist and the mother, I segued from a walker to a driver to a soccer mom. Guys in cars typically have their windows closed to keep in the air conditioning, and their stereos would drown out any cat calls. And let's face it, I'm long gone from the typical cat call demographic. The feminist in me doesn't get too worked up about them, either. I get more worked up when women are objectified on TV or through the internet.
Then I realized something scary. My daughter is almost the age I was when the cat calls started. There's a very good chance that she and her buddies will be the recipients of a cat call this summer. Some 25-year-old will be driving by and see their gorgeous legs in their short shorts, and their cute little bodies that haven't had a chance to sag or wrinkle. They're not going to see the girls who aren't quite ready for that sort of attention. They're just going to see the women they're becoming.
And suddenly, cat calls are more than just something to roll my eyes at. A word of warning to the next guy who considers yelling out the window to my daughter: If I'm anywhere nearby, I'm going to jump through your window and wrap my hands around your throat. That's my baby girl you're cat calling. Don't even think of it.