Monday, April 25, 2011

Honk if you're feeling horny...or obnoxious

In Oregon’s mountainous high desert, spring is a fickle bitch.

Last Wednesday I woke to an inch of snow on the ground. By afternoon it was so sunny I stripped off my sweater and went for a walk in short sleeves.

The walk got me feeling warm and smiley and pretty delighted with life in general. I was lost in a daydream involving a grassy hillside, a bottle of almond oil, and a guy with fabulous hands when suddenly…

HONK! HONK! HONK!

It wasn’t a flock of geese issuing a mating call. It was a mating call though.

I turned to see a dude grinning and pointing at me from behind the wheel of a two-tone muscle car. Just in case that failed to turn me on, he leaned out the open window and shouted something that was either, “nice ass” or “how do you feel about poststructuralist strategies toward the interpretation of New-Americal poetic dissidents?”

It was tough to tell over his thumpin’ bass.

Seriously, what the hell?

I get honked at a lot. It’s not that I’m so wildly attractive men can’t control their horns. More likely it’s that I often travel on foot and my long hair readily identifies me as female. I don’t kid myself that the horn honkers have higher standards than that.

The honking phenomenon fascinates me. Somehow, somewhere, this must have worked for some guy. A nubile female must have jumped at the sound of a car horn and promptly stripped off her clothing before diving into the passenger seat of a passing vehicle.

That’s the only reason I can think of why men continue to do this.

I used to work in an office that was only a mile from my house. Because I walked to work every day, I got honked at pretty regularly. On one particular morning it happened twice within a three block stretch. The sound of a blaring car horn at close range is pretty startling, so after the second time it happened, I was feeling pretty irritated.

When a third car horn sounded, I whirled around and flipped off the driver.

It was the CEO.

He was waving hello.

We never spoke of the incident, and I learned to control my impulses a bit better. OK, that’s a lie. But I did learn to look before making obscene gestures at passing motorists.

Can you offer a reasonable explanation for this honking phenomenon? Have you ever been guilty of it yourself? Is homicide considered justifiable if the horn honker startles me badly enough that my finger slips on the trigger of my sawed-off shotgun? Please share!

29 comments :

Claire Dawn said...

It doesn't happen in Japan, so it's bee quite a while since it happened to me. At home in Barbados, guys used to make a sort of catcall (Seets) and say, "My friend..." and start their pick up lines from there.

I always wondered if a single girl ever fell for a guy seetsing.

Michelle Miller said...

Homicide is definitely justified.

The first time it happened to me, I was riding my bike over a bridge on my way to little league softball practice. I was around twelve, I'm guessing, and on the tail end of my mid-pubescent growth spurt. Anyway, guy honks his horn. I nearly go over the side of the bridge. Guy gets a look at my face and realizes how young I am. His face gets red and he drives away fast. I'd like to think that's the last time he did it, but I doubt it.

Solution? I'm thinking if every girl got issued a paint ball gun at the age of ten, and we started marking their cars, they'd stop pretty damned quick. Ooooo. Could we use them on butt-pinchers, too? Much closer range. The welts would be huge!

As for spring, we are still getting at least one snow fall every week here in Minnesota, too. It melts fast and everything, but still! Unfortunately, my WIP is set in early winter as well, so I'm getting no spring anywhere!

Patty Blount said...

I have mixed emotions about the horn honk.

When I was a kid, walking home with my Catholic school uniform on, I was frequently honked at and also frequently followed home. I will never understand the lure that uniform holds for men old enough to know better.

I have what I have been told is a "nice walk" which is, I suspect, code for "shake it".

I am not honked at anymore probably because I rarely walk anywhere and I confess, I miss it.

Matthew MacNish said...

This is ridiculous. I have no idea what it is about my gender that reduces them to such imbeciles.

Don't get me wrong, I like women, and there is nothing wrong with appreciating beauty, but actually honking, or cat-calling from the job-site, or hitting on someone at the bar with a cheesy line? Lame.

I've never done these things and never will. What exactly are these guys thinking? I mean let's say that you honk, she turns, and decides to hop into your car. What then? Is that really the kind of person you want to ... love long time? If so make sure you wear two condoms, dude.

Charity Bradford said...

This is going to be a weird comment, and I don't mean it to be, but there's no other way to say it. :)

This weekend I took my family to the Atlanta Aquarium, and the Beluga whales made me think of you. First, I look more like a whale than you, but they were very entertaining. In a way that I would love to blog about, but the post would fit better on your blog than mine.

Big daddy whale was feeling frisky and had it all hanging out for everyone to see. The object of his amorous attention wasn't going for it though. The crowd was great. The male beluga would rush around trying to catch her off guard and she would calmly turn her back to him. The dialogue in my head was Tawna worthy.

Plus I thought it funny that my teen was so embarrassed!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I think that the horn honking mating call is a substitute for the wolf whistle, which is SO much more personable and effective; but since not all men can be construction workers, they have to honk. It's definitely a sign of spring...maybe THAT's what the call is about...an effusive expression of the joy of rebirth.

Linda G. said...

Yeah, the honking and catcalls used to annoy me, too. These days, though, I just wave and say thank you. ;)

Summer Frey said...

The men here in Stickville loooove to honk at anyone with boobs. They once honked at my mother-in-law, which was hilarious (she does have a nice figure, though). The last time I got honked at was a few months ago, walking from the bank next door to Blimpie's...holding my husband's hand. And still, two honks in a row. Maybe they were for him??

kmullican said...

This is hilarious! I so love your blog.

My husband reluctantly admits to what cured him of this type of behavior. He dared to commit the honk, then oogled as he passed what turned out to be a dude with long hair and a bubble butt...cured him for life.

I think it boils down to their need for attention. They could stare, but a honk forces attention...needy little bastards that they are!

abby mumford said...

i have always wondered about this. always. like, when the boys turns 16, are they handed their license and told an urban legend about how joe honked at jane and they were married a year later?

my reaction to the horn honk varies depending upon the day. it usually scared the crap out of, but after that, i'll either smile in appreciation that someone thinks i look cute or glare that they just gave me a minor heart attack or flip them off. i mean, what else are they expecting?

K.B. Owen said...

Hey, Tawna -

You'll love this Jerry Seinfeld clip about men honking horns at women: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am_xK41HYYs Thanks so much for this post!

Meredith said...

To me, the honks are kind of cute - I chalk it up to a male joie de vivre, and since they beep and drive by and the interaction is done, it can even make my day.

What I don't like is when these bozos slow down and hang an elbow out the window and try to strike up a convo. That's just creepy.

Bright said...

Funny, guys don't seem to do that much anymore around here. I'm sure it's due to political correctness, not to the fact that "young and cute" was 20-some-odd years ago for me.

Hate to admit this, but once you get to a certain age, you start to treasure every (infrequent) honk...

Danica Avet said...

I don't know what the horn honking thing is about, but my brother and nephews honk at anyone outside their house. Why, I've asked them a million times from the floorboard of the car. Their answer? "Because everyone wants to feel like they know someone even if they have no idea who you are."

I doubt that fits in with your experience, but it seemed like a nice explanation.

Jason said...

I have never honked my car horn at a woman - never. I save that for the stupid drivers that cut me off in traffic on the drive home from work. I never understood why anyone would honk either.

If it were me, being honked at, my first reaction wouldn't be to be impressed either. I probably wouldn't wait until the third time to flip the person off. :)

Patrick Alan said...

Oh man. This happens to me all the time. Women honk at me, flash their boobs, or throw their panties.

All the time...

It's a problem, I tell you. What do they think? What do they expect me to do? Sigh...

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

uh oh! I too have to own up that I have made rude gestures (flip off) to someone I later discover was my boss!!

Tawna Fenske said...

Claire Dawn, ooh, you just gave me an idea for a blog post on pickup lines. Stay tuned....

Michelle, I love the paintball gun idea!

Patty, I've wondered if there will be a day I miss the honking, but I don't think so. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally flattered by ogling and even inappropriate comments. It's just that the horn blast is so damn startling.

Matthew, you've just given me an idea. I think I'm going to start honking at hot men on the street. This is an excellent plan.

Charity, you don't know how much I wish you got video of the whale thing!

Teri Anne, I don't mind the wolf whistle so much because it's not so bloody loud.

Linda G, does the waving and thanking come after you've finished fibrillating on the sidewalk? That's the part I hate...the startling nature of the @#$% horn honk.

Summer, I know there are some countries (generally Latin American) where it's considered rude for men NOT to whistle at a passing female, regardless of whether she's with another guy. Go figure.

kmullican, that sounds like an excellent treatment program for honking men! Your husband should start offering it as therapy for other offenders.

Abby, there are also variations in the horn honking, I've found. A subtle "meep meep" is much less jarring than a loud horn blast.

K.B., I loooooooooove that! Thanks for sharing it!

Meredith, if they offer you candy, run the other way.

Bright, I've definitely noticed the honking varies depending on where I am. I probably hear it more here (a smaller town) than I did in the bigger town where I grew up.

Danica, you know, that DOES make sense in a weird sort of way.

Jason, no joke, being startled out of my mind isn't generally a turn-on for me!

Patrick, can I have my panties back?

Writer Pat, yeah, admittedly I've flipped off the wrong person more than once.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Shallee said...

Ha ha! Your poor, friendly CEO. :) In my city, people honk a lot, but mostly in the friendly/hello spirit. I have been honked and whistled at before, and I agree-- it's irritating.

Lucy Woodhull said...

Ha! I've totally given bitch face to a honker only to have it be a friend. I'll have to try flipping them off. Of course, in LA they'd likely mow me down if I did that. I'd hate to hear what ol' Jebus would say if my last action was flipping the bird.

Patrick Alan said...

Of course you can have them back. What do I want with them? I just bought a new hat anyway. *Takes panties off head*

Patrick Alan said...

"totally given bitch face to a honker"

This is my new favorite phrase.

Judy, Judy, Judy said...

I had a girlfriend I used to hang with on Friday nights. We liked to spend some time hanging out before going to bars. Sometimes we would drive around and honk at men and make rude comments. Mostly just to turn the tables on them. We particularly liked to honk and whistle at unattractive men. Dirty or toothless or hair a mess. Men always take it well. They smile or laugh.
Maybe that's why they do it to women. Because they like when it's done to them. Except Matthew. And I'm sure a million other men out there.

Elizabeth said...

For some reason, men like to holler at me through my open car window. I can't figure out why they think hollering and honking will work, but they keep on trying. Boys.

Allie Sanders said...

Okay, this post had me hunting down my husband and asking him if he'd ever honked at a girl. Not shockingly, he had. When I asked him why his response was this:

"*honk, honk, honk, You're hot!*

Apparently when men (who have brain cells in their skulls and not their nether regions, honk they are just informing the woman she looks attractive. Undoubtably there are some in the camp who are looking for a woman to jump in the car for a quickie but this is my husband's take on it. Now I'm tempted to start asking all of my male friends why they honk at women.

Adriana said...

Maybe it's just my experience, but American men honk more than European men -- at least Eastern European men, I haven't spent enough time in Western Europe to be able to say. I also think there's more honking in parts of the country where pedestrians are pretty rare. Don't know how it is in Oregon where you are, but I spent a summer in Delaware where to get to work I had to walk along a freeway (minor highway? what's the difference anyway?), and I got honked A LOT. But most days I was the only person walking, so I figured that's why... I don't know.

I've never flicked anyone off for honking at me. I choose to take it as a compliment whenever it happens, even if it makes me jump :)

Skye said...

I admit that I purposely ignore horn honks and try to not jump. Why? Well, when I was a teen, guys would honk and I'd turn thinking they thought I was cute, then they would laugh to each other in that mean way and drive off. So I do not have any positive feelings toward it.

I don't mind whistles. Or even the occasional "oh baby" but that doesn't happen any more.

When I was about 17 and at the park playing frisbee with a girlfriend, we noticed that every single car that drove past drove Really. Slowly. We had no idea (she was very cute with long blonde hair and a figure and I was tall with a ... boyish ... figure; at least I had long blonde hair, too). Finally we realized what it was. I was wearing a halter top that was almost the same color as my skin, a kind of apricot (I had a tan). Guys probably thought I was half naked.

Charity Bradford said...

I haz blurry picture?

I wanted to stay and see if she ever gave in. I think the crowd would have cheered, it was the funniest thing I've ever watched. And strangely erotic.

kel said...

This is something I have thought of often. I mean, do I *look* like the type of trick you can pick up by honking...or whistling at, whatever?

It used to make me mad, I used to flip them off, but now...I ignore. The sad part is, most of them don't get it and honk more or yell louder. because, you know, it couldn't POSSIBLY that I'm not interested.