Friday, December 4, 2009

A Colectivo Catcall

Yesterday I got hit on by a bus. No, not hit BY a bus, hit ON by a bus. Biiiiiig difference. I was on my way to the parks to go running, and as I was crossing a major avenue a bus (the number 12, I believe) whistled at me. (You know, that whistle people do in movies when a dressed-up woman walks into a room…it’s a bit difficultl to express in writing, but I’m sure you know which one I mean!) And not just once, not twice, but thrice did it whistle! I had my iPod on, so the first time I was only vaguely aware that someone was whistling at me, and I just assumed it was yet another of the many men who like to musically express their appreciation of my person. The second time I looked up and saw the number 12 looming over me, at which point it whistled again, and I realized it was the bus itself that was making the noise. Apparently the driver had installed a custom horn that catcalled women, so that whenever he saw an attractive girl go past he could just toot his horn instead of having to stick his head out the window and actually verbalize his admiration. How lazy can you be, honestly.

Now, Buenos Aires is definitely a city in which the catcall figures prominently. I personally don’t mind them, and actually find some of them flattering, especially if I’m having a crap day. While the traditional catcalls yelled from a passing car or from a borracho across the street do exist here, there is also a more subtle and more romantic (?) method employed on the streets of BA. Often as I walk past a man standing in his doorway (which seems to be a kind of sport here—who can loiter the longest), he will murmur something quietly, so that I can barely hear him. In my case it’s usually “Qué ojos!” given that I have rather large blue eyes. And the other day as I walked past two young men on the way home from dinner, one of them blew me a kiss, which was just too cute. I have of course been the recipient of some dirtier comments that I will not repeat, but in my experience Argentine catcalls tend to the more poetic and appreciative rather than the lewd and offensive.

In terms of responding to catcalls, I usually just ignore them, as do the majority of Argentine women, especially those who have grown up here in the city and have been on the receiving end of these comments since hitting puberty and getting their first pair of fake boobs (no really, it happens...that’s another post though). Sometimes if the commenter says something amusing or blatantly ridiculous, I’ll laugh, which usually elicits a kind of shocked look from the original perpetrator. Now, if only women could catcall men. Maybe I’ll start a trend. Gotta get me one of those horns first though…


  1. You know, R.S. wrote a blog about that very same thing, women catcalling men. I think we should start a revolution! Here is hers:

  2. Laburo is 'lunfardo' River Plate's slang despite his noble origin, came from Latin ,'labor' through Italian 'laboro', anyway today is accepted by the Spanish Academy , RAE.

  3. I admit it. It was me. You're cute. What can I say?!

  4. jaja me estás chamuyando Anonymous? viste la palabra del dia? i'm onto you :)