When you’re a woman walking down the streets of New York City, there are three questions that you’re asked on a regular basis. 1) Do you like stand-up comedy? 2) Where do you get your hair cut? 3) Can I ask you a question? (Or, alternately, “Can I tell you something?” or “Can I just say…?”)
I have learned not to answer the first two questions. Tell them you like stand-up and you’ll later find yourself in the front row of a painful 3-hour amateur comedy show. The second question is more deceptive. You pause, thinking to yourself, “They like my hair cut so much that they want to go to the salon themselves so they can look as fabulous as I do!” But this is only a ruse to get you to stop. Once you tell them the name of your salon, you get the ol' bait-and-switch. They say something like, “How much did you pay for it? I’ll bet it was too much!” Then they hand you a voucher for a discount haircut with a stylist-in-training at some random hair salon. Use the voucher and you will usually walk out of the salon with mini-bangs that you neither requested nor desired.
The last question can obviously go a number of ways. Sometimes it can simply be a quest for directions. (“How do I get to West 4th Street from here?”) Often the question is some kind of pick-up line. Then there's the guy in Union Square who tapped me on the shoulder the other day and said, “Can I tell you something? If you were a booger, I’d pick you first."
Then there's that.