To all the women I’ve catcalled, to all the emotional scars I’ve caused while blinded by my culturally-constructed masculinity, to all the daughters from wholesome families I’ve wronged with my words in passing; I am sorry. It’s been an unfortunate and shameful realization. I come to you with a heavy heart and guilty conscience that seeks penance, hoping with this one last walk through my past, we can all breathe that crisp, cathartic air of relief.
The first time I cat called a woman I was walking to a bar on the crowded streets of Pacific Beach, California with my friend Steve. We turned the corner and saw a group of bridesmaids walking towards us; color coordinated, bride with tiara, shot-glass necklaces; the works. Something about the scene struck me as beautiful – a woman preparing for the biggest day of her life by embarking in one last hurrah with her best friends. They were laughing, smiling from ear to ear, caught up in the moment and I felt my heart swell with joy and a selfish need to be a part of it all,
“You girls are adorable, congratulations!” I said with a smile, “Aw, thank you!” they yelled back. The smiles they returned seemed genuine and – even worse – I felt good about myself as Steve and I continued to the bar. That’s the worst part. I felt my words made that passing moment better than it could’ve been.
The second time I catcalled a woman was at a pool party in Los Angeles. I walked towards the bathroom when I saw two women who had just passed through security, one of whom stood right in my path and took off her tank top. I won’t lie to you; she was absolutely beautiful. I felt like I was walking on air, and when I passed her I said, “I just stopped breathing when you did that.” Worst of all, she and her friend yelled, “Woooo!” and she grabbed my face and kissed my cheek. Now I know that behind that cheer and kiss there was a woman who felt threatened and objectified, and that’s the man I was.
The third time I catcalled a woman I was in line for a club in Las Vegas. She got in line with a friend and I couldn’t help but be transfixed by her radiance, so I took out my phone and approached her, “Hey, I’m trying to make my ex girlfriend jealous and was wondering if I could take a picture with you?” It was the truth, after all, and she must’ve seen that on my face because she said, “Of course!” and struck a pose right next to me. As fate would have it, she had just gotten out of a relationship herself. We invited her and her friends to our table, and after we danced and got to know each other a bit more, she said, “You know what would make your ex girlfriend really jealous?” I’m not proud of it, but we made-out right there in the club. Replaying the memory of my jubilant walk-of-shame from her hotel room the next morning makes me cringe. How could I have been such a douche bag? If I could take it all back, I would stand in line and keep my phone in my pocket. I would’ve acknowledged her beauty but kept my mouth shut because it’s the words that likely hurt her to this day.
We all run from our past in one way or another, but I’m tired of running. I won’t run. I’m not proud of the man I was, the man who believed he was brightening a dull world with his words. That man is dead. I’m ashamed of that man, and my only hope is – and ever will be – that you’ll forgive me for what I’ve done. I am a better person, and I will die proving it.