Musings, North Dakota Living

There are Plenty of Fish in the Sea, but Mostly Sharks Where I Live

Our little corner, the very far northwest corner of the Midwest, is not a bad place to be. The economy is booming, unlike most areas of the country. Help Wanted signs are posted daily. Money is flowing; local commerce is expanding. The streets are bustling, which is saying something, since five or six years ago it looked like we were heading for Ghost Town USA. I should mention that most of the bustling is males. I wish I had statistics on the ratio of men to women here, but I bet it would be a fascinating number. I’m no statistician, and as an English teacher I know I should be looking for credible and reliable sources, but as a practiced exaggerator I’m just going to assume it’s along the lines of 287 to 1.

Girls here will generally agree that going out in public can sometimes feel like swimming in shark-infested waters. By “going out,” I mean going to the grocery store, the bar, or even walking down the street alone. My younger brother Joey was with me one late summer morning, helping me carry things into my classroom. A white pickup full of oily men parked next to the high school was hurling very inappropriate comments my direction. By the fourth or fifth time I walked by, Joey was ready to say something to them, but stopped when he saw me stomping toward the pickup. When I get mad enough, my ears turn bright red and I swear I’m seven feet tall. Let’s just say I was eight feet tall that morning, and after some choice words and index-finger-stabbing in their direction, the pickup was kind enough to leave the premises of the high school. I was just looking out for the safety of the school, I swear… but I’m still happy my administrators didn’t walk outside and hear some of my… choice words.

I can’t always blame these guys. With the lack of women, I have no doubt these men would like a little female attention. But some of the things we hear!… They are real gems. My friend A. and I came up with a short list of some of the best lines we’ve heard since living here:

  • Once, while I was walking down the main street block where one of our two grocery stores sit, a red pickup pulled up next to me. This was one of the variety that I like to call the “tool pickups,” which run rampant in the oil field. (Tool here does not refer to the hammer variety, just to be clear.) Tool pickups are any of the innumerable vehicles drawing an outrageous amount of attention to themselves: they might be jacked up, embellished with smokestacks or Cherry Bomb exhaust systems, slathered with stickers proclaiming genius things such as “Roughnecks: Rednecks, only Tougher!” or “Be a Flirt: Lift your Shirt,” or generally made to match their drivers in classiness levels. (Sorry if I offend you by mentioning you here, guy with the “Lift your Shirt” sticker, but really, you did have a toddler in your pickup.) Anyway, this jacked-up red pickup pulled up beside me. The mustached man in the driver’s seat rolled down the window, said, “Hey baby, I got a song for you,” and blasted from his sound system – wait for it – “You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals.” This is a true story.
  • A. was once approached by a young man who said nothing more than, “Do you live alone?” Thankfully, she did not tell him. We might not be friends anymore. Mainly because she would probably be kidnapped by now.
  • I once had a man sidle up to me at the local bar, slide his finger against my arm, and say in an astonishingly oily voice, “That is a lovely pumpkin colored jacket.” Once I was able to quit choking on my drink, my reply was a mumble along the lines of, “Thanks… um… I think it’s more of a mustard…”
  • Along these same lines, last fall A. had a man run his hands through her hair and say, “You have sexy Goldilocks hair.” While A. does have beautiful golden hair, I feel as though there are better approaches to complimenting women.
  • A. and I were both approached one evening and told, “I work for the New York Times. Could I interview you for the paper?” We looked him up and down. He was wearing muddy boots and canvas pants. He had tattoos covering his forearms. He had several piercings. He did not look the New York Times part. Perhaps he was just trying to fit in with the locals, but somehow we still didn’t believe him. He didn’t get his interview.

These are only a handful; there’s more. Ask me sometime. But really, do we sound like cold local girls? (Or if I can make a super lame metaphor, “cold fish”?) Possibly we do after all. But it wasn’t always that way; I used to be a bit more friendly to the males species. Trust me, a girl learns quickly when to be on the defensive. As evident in the above examples, a girl is wiser not to encourage sharks by throwing them bait in the form of smiles and winks if she wishes to enjoy the rest of her evening in relative peace. So we stick together, wading the waters, hoping to find the ones worth keeping. And there are a few of those around, if you can find them.

Just for fun, I created a poll (mostly to test out the polling feature), so choose the smoothest pickup line by voting below. Or for the girls (and guys I suppose!), feel free to comment with some of the best pickup lines you’ve heard!

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