Summer is but a distant memory. The leaves have fallen and the streets have emptied. Now, only the occasional power-walking figures stride the darkened paths, hoping to make it home to a warm bed and hot meal. But will their predator, the catcaller, interrupt their journey home and leave them in a state of fury?
All summer, the catcaller has been attacking his prey from either the safety of his front stoop, a street corner surrounded by his ilk, or while walking swiftly past his targets in the opposite direction — wherever he can catch them unaware so he can dole out the most harm. The catcaller’s yowls of “Hey, beautiful,” “Why won’t you smile for me?” and “I’d like to [censored] your [censored] and [censored] [censored] [censored]” have permeated the warm nights of the past several months. But now, as the warmth of summer dies and makes way to the chill of winter, the catcaller must reevaluate his priorities: to hunt, or to find shelter?
We follow the catcaller as he makes his daily trek from his stoop to the corner deli, where he reemerges a few minutes later with a six-pack of beer and some unnecessarily inflated self-esteem. Instead of heading back to his apartment, he pauses at the edge of a crosswalk and eyes a group of women crossing the street toward him. He ruffles his feathers and prepares to cunningly frame his forthcoming attack as a compliment so that he can immediately pin the blame on the women if they somehow inexplicably see through his disguise. But he is convinced that he inhabits the role of Kind Stranger so fully that no one could possibly believe otherwise.
“Hey, girls,” he says in a fascinating display of the infantilization of women that is a key component of his predatory techniques. To his evident dismay, the women immediately turn to cross the street in the other direction, prompting a new cry of pain: “Well [censored] you, [censored], you [censored] ugly [censored]!”
The women, by now, are gone.
In warmer months, this injury to the catcaller’s ego would rapidly evolve into anger, which the catcaller would then redirect to his many other unsuspecting victims. However, on this chilly evening when only the occasional figure wrapped in a heavy coat flits by, the catcaller has fewer potential targets whom he can assault in a pathetic attempt to bolster his own sexual dominance.
Because of the colder conditions, both catcaller and catcallee have developed thick winter skins, most of which they have purchased from the outerwear section of a local department store. For the catcallees, these extra-thick coats have a convenient extra function as a thin layer of protection from the predatory eye of the catcaller. For the catcaller himself, however, it makes little difference; it would never cross his mind that anyone would objectify him in the same way that he objectifies others. Still, on the occasion that he is vocally rejected, the coat provides protection from the sting of the wind that accompanies the sting of rejection he feels inside his wretched sham of a heart.
Gradually, the catcaller begins to realize that hunting season has ended. The time for tossing dehumanizing insults left and right will no longer yield the results they once did. His self-assured firm belief in his own elevated position is at risk. So is his increasingly solidified opinion that any stranger who can’t take a well-meaning compliment like, “I bet you look even better without that dress on” is a loathsome sack of dung. With fewer opportunities to bolster his ego in this destructive fashion, the catcaller decides that it is time to hibernate.
Armed with enough beer and porn necessary to get him through the winter, he retires to his home. For the next few cold, sad, lonely months, he must stifle his misogynistic comments until the world outside once again blossoms into spring. He knows he must turn elsewhere to sustain his need to prey. It may be too cold for him outdoors, but while hibernating in the warmth of his winter home, the catcaller will have a new outlet for the hateful comments he feels the need to spew. He will turn to Twitter.
As the catcaller approaches his door, he takes one last glance towards the street and sees a female form walking along the sidewalk. He decides to assert his self-perceived dominance one last time before his slumber by displaying his famous leering gaze and growling. “Hey, sexy, why don’t you—”
He stops abruptly and suddenly cowers in place as the woman makes eye contact. No longer does his stance project the combination of “just chillin” and “sexual power play” that it once attempted. Who is the woman who can disrupt his aggression so easily?
With a weak whine of “No, Mom, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it,” the catcaller retreats into his home, followed closely by the fuming woman.
Like all of his species, this catcaller isn’t nearly as close to the top of the food chain as he believes himself to be. Once again, he has been revealed as a feeble imposter whose power is solely dependent on his own distance from those he attacks. Will hibernation be an opportunity for him to recharge not only his body but also his crass, toxic soul?
Let’s be honest, probably not.