The laws of human attraction baffle me here. I’ve never been one to reel in a lot of attention on the streets. I’m perfectly ok with that. There are plenty of beautiful women out there to do that job for me-who are built better, dress better, walk better, flaunt better… I’m always the lady walking behind the other lady that has a group of dudes track the progress of her behind all the way around the block. And then I walk by and run into a pole or drop my ice cream cone on my shirt. Hot.

Of course, there are times and places, right or wrong, when any woman expects the symphony of “praise” to be showered on her as she walks the streets- this for me is a 5-block stretch of South Broadway in Baltimore, or below many a construction project worldwide. Ok, lets just go ahead and be stereotypical here, it fits with my story. The “Mexican” (what many Americans refer to any Latino) guys in America are famous for this. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a baby or look like any of their Moms, but somehow they all think my name is “Mamasita.” Also, I think there is a guidebook out there instructing young Latino men that if you whistle and hiss, a woman will come running in response to your mating call, and darn if they don’t keep trying.

So sorry if I didn’t expect just the least bit of a reward for my grooming efforts down here in Mexico. I figured that any American woman down here, no matter if she was born to a wolf mother and hunchback father, would be the object of at least a little attention on the streets.

What? Nada.

Alright, lets be honest, maybe it’s me. First of all the women here are gorgeous, and DEFINITELY know how to flaunt it better. Or at all. These chicks wear 3 inch heels to the mall, the grocery store, the park, the street festivals, the airports…there is always product in their hair, always jewelry in their ears, and they always mark their territory with perfume…I can usually tell when one of my female neighbors has been in the elevator before me, and by now, I can pretty much tell who by the scent. I’m impressed- awed in fact at the grace in their stilt-walking steps and the time it must take to prep for simple outings. Naturally, in this type of environment, one such as myself would expect to be overlooked.  Again, I am perfectly content with that fact. In this context, it makes sense.  My housekeeper (I know, don’t judge) Imelda, with no malice intended, happily pointed this out to me as we chatted in the kitchen.

“Your mother in law wanted me to tell you,” she offered helpfully, “that you might want to start making more of an effort. Look at all the pretty women in the street. You’re not doing your husband any favors by dressing the way you do.”

Fact or fiction whether this came from my Suegra? No matter, message received. And filed in the “ask me if I care” folder.

Here’s where I begin to be baffled…

I have a magic hat. Really, it’s magic. The hat cost about $6.99 at Target. You’ve probably seen me wearing it. I do not wear it to be cool. I wear it because I often (as in, multiple times weekly) do not like wash, style, or brush my hair, at least before 1pm, and therefore when I can no longer stay hiding in my squalor because the dog needs a walk, I throw on the magic hat and a coat over whatever clothes I’m wearing and head out the door. This, my friends, is magic time for me in Mexico City.

They whistle. They mutter under their breaths. They stop me for directions then try to keep talking. They make me stand there with grocery bags that weigh 20 kilos and talk to me about dancing and would I like to go sometime. I’ve had men turn around from walking in front of me in the park, who I swear could only see me from spider sense, and start asking me out. Are they attracted to the smell? I have to angle my head to the opposite side of where they are standing to hide my morning coffee breath as I politely tell them I’m married.  This only happens, without fail, on the no-makeup, no-shower, hat hair, bleary-eyed afternoons. Never, never once I tell you, have I gotten a compliment following a morning I used a blowdryer. Or heaven forbid the rare day I feel like actually putting an “outfit” together or, deep breath, wearing a pair of heels to meet someone for dinner.

Someone explain this to me, please! Is it the thought that I just may be desperate enough to go out with anyone? Or maybe they think I work the nightshift or else there would be no other excuse for looking the way I do? Or maybe there is a Mexican tale that states a woman in a hat will fulfill all your wildest dreams? Does the  hat create a mirage of beauty?

Please don’t tell me it’s my natural beauty. I am a beautiful person, I think, but I have a great potential to have unbeautiful moments. The hat is always present during these times. I honestly think it’s the hat. I don’t know what it is. It could be the new for underachievers. Magic, I tell you.