A few months ago I wrote a post about being a woman and a sports fan, and all the weird dynamics and minor indignities that involves. Consider the following recent anecdotes as fitting into that folder.
Lately I’ve been hanging out in my favorite neighborhood bar to do some work or reading while catching a bit of whatever game I’m interested in watching (usually a Giants game). Turns out, the sight of an unaccompanied woman watching a game at a bar in the afternoon or early evening seems to draw the curious attention of men. I usually see them looking at me somewhat sideways as if to think, “what is she doing?, is she waiting for someone?” And then, more often than not, they talk to me. Not always, it seems to me, out of any design to try to strike up something flirtatious but simply to figure out what I am doing there.
Once they confirm I’m actually there for the game, I get a range of responses. Sometimes, when it quickly becomes clear that I know more about the particular team or teams than they do, it proceeds to what I can only interpret as a slightly embarrassed attempt to abort the conversation fairly quickly after they realize they are oddly unable to contribute to the conversation past what I already know. (I almost get the feeling that they thought they were going to get a chance to explain to me who Kevin Durant is, or something; such as when the guy who kept asking me multiple times why I like the Thunder didn’t seem to believe my first, second, and third response – because I like Durant’s and especially Westbrook’s game. “No really, why are you actually watching this game?” he seemed to ask.)
Other times, there is delighted surprise. The most notable of these was the man who emphatically congratulated me on being on top of things enough to know to wear Timmy’s jersey on days when he is pitching. As though it was really surprising that I kept track of the rotation. A few minutes later, out of the blue, he rotated 180 percent around (we were sitting back to back) and delivered, in what I am pretty sure was an attempt to strike up a flirtation, one of the stranger opening lines I’ve heard: “So, since you are obviously very intelligent because you like baseball, you must be reading something really interesting.” This man seemed like a pretty decent guy, and wasn’t being offensive or invasive, but I had to suppress laughter at his somewhat tortured attempt to find a way to connect liking baseball and flirting with me – it wasn’t a very convincing segue, as there are, in fact, thousands upon thousands of not terribly astute baseball fans and, while I love the sport passionately, I’ve never associated that fact with possessing a particularly keen mind. But hey, at least he thought it was a good idea to tell a woman she must be smart.