This is now the second time an older black man in this marvelous city of Saint Louis has decided that it was imperative to comment on my attire and to inform me that my shorts are a bit too…short.

The first time a group of around four of five men, from a large black suv commented on my clothing, shouted from a window in fact, that what I was wearing was “gay.” But I wasn’t alone then, I was with five other summer researchers, (none of whom were black which may have increased my visibility) so I felt uncomfortable, but not unsafe.

Today, I sat in the shade outside of a coffee shop, within the line of sight of dozens of people, but I felt unsafe when he sat, of all places (there were at least 20 or so empty tables scattered around), in the table directly beside mine.  He squatted, really, and turned his body to face mine and sat with is legs wide open.  I could feel his eyes crawl over my body as I read and I felt unsafe. After five minutes or so he asked a couple passing by “where’s the nearest library?” with a tone that made me feel the question was directed at me, and I felt unsafe. I rose and collected my things after that, after I noticed that he did not make his way to the nearest library, and headed into the coffee shop.  But not before he said, not all too quietly, “with them girl as shorts on….” 

I can’t quite understand what it is that makes me feel unsafe in this city.  Perhaps I am paranoid.  Perhaps I am reading far too deeply into these two discrete occurrences.  Perhaps I’m presenting and holding myself in a manner that makes me appear to be an attractive target.

I wish this weren’t the case.  I wish I could wear whatever the hell I want to wear and not worry if my attire will bring unwanted remarks.  

I just really hate people man.