The other day I came to the conclusion on this blog that the best strategy when walking the streets of Beirut is to keep your eyes straight forward, not smile and just generally pretend that there are no other people around. That way you limit the amount of comments made by men to a minimum. But an email from my mother made me change my mind.
After having read the blog, she told me that one of the things my father had fallen for when they met in Beirut in the 60’s was the fact that she was always smiling. Which she is. And so I started thinking that maybe it isn’t such a bad thing keep a bit of Danish street culture and actually smile at the people I pass. Because really – What harm can it do?
No, it wasn’t particularly fun to be followed around for several blocks. But that was definitely an exception. In most cases men will keep to just staring, smiling or making a comment while passing. And isn’t that actually a good thing? I would actually find it a bit depressing to go an entire day without having a single man turn to look at me.
So now I’ve decided to change my strategy and just smile back and try to enjoy the attention. And after a day or so I can already tell how big a difference it makes. First of all, my mood is lighter because I don’t automatically start to feel annoyed several times a day. Second of all, smiling seems to start a tiny chain reaction. When I answer a comment with a smile, the man making it looks a tiny bit happier, which again will hopefully spread to someone else. And third of all, there even appears to be financial benefits by smiling a lot.
I figured that out while going shoe shopping with my brother. After a while, the salesman carefully asked him if we were married. When he found out we weren’t he started flirting in a manner I would never have imagined any Lebanese, Danish or whatever other guy would ever do in front of the girl’s older brother. But instead of getting annoyed and leaving, I stayed and smiled. And ended up getting a 40% discount, which really gave me something to smile about!