Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hit On Already

One of the other books Jacqueline recommended, for wardrobe selection, was The Lucky Shopping Manual by Andrea Linett and Kim France. Not feeling like buying more new books, I headed out to the public library. I read through it (lots of pictures) and felt inspired to find outfits that were more "cute" and less "frump."

So I went to Goodwill, Saturday being 50% Off Day, and picked up some new(-to-me) clothes. Got some nice tops, skirts, pants (including comfy green cargo pants -- I'm getting the nicer clothes in addition to my normal clothes, after all), and a pair of shoes. That accomplished, I realized that at 8:30 PM I'd only eaten a banana all day. Borders has both books and cafe-food, so it was off to Borders.

At Goodwill, I had changed into one of my newly purchased outfits. Nothing terribly unusual, although the shirt and jacket together with the shoes are a touch nicer than the oversized, baggy T-shirts I normally wear with jeans.

Anyhow, at Borders, I was just sitting on the floor reading when this Indian guy walks up to me. He said, "Hi, I just wanted to tell you that you look really cute." I was, understandably, flabbergasted. I thanked him, not knowing what else you're supposed to say in such situations (having not been in many myself). He sat down next to me and we chatted for the next half hour or so, until closing. More accurately, he chatted and I was polite. He came across as at least one of overly confident, desperate, or clueless.

He is originally from India, which is where he claims he was almost killed by a tiger when he was 14. (Thus the strange bumps/marks on his forehead in the sketch I did of him later.) He does yoga. ("Would you like to join me some time?" Heh, thanks, no.) He once came to the rescue of an ex-stripper-girlfriend in LA when she was being harassed by some guys after work. ("I know some martial arts.") He wanted to know where I got my ring -- then didn't seem comfortable with my deprecating it by saying I suspected it was just made of silver solder, being $3 Mexican mercado jewelry and all. He took my right hand to read my lifelines or whatever, then declared very insightfully that I was a reserved, observing sort of person.

We got kicked out of Borders, and he wanted to walk me to my car. I'd parked in the front row of the parking lot, under lights and near other people leaving the bookstore. I didn't know how to politely tell him no, and it didn't seem too risky, so I agreed to let him. So we walked to my car. I opened my car door and was half standing in it, to make it clear that I was just about to leave and not planning on hanging around for another half hour. He wanted to know if I would like to meet him at the local park the next night. He didn't strike me as a particularly dense person, so why was he not acknowledging all the reluctance and polite-shrugging-off-ness that I was doing? I said I didn't think I would, and instead of taking it graciously he asked again, saying he would really like to continue our conversation. I'd already said no politely and didn't feel like just flat out saying "no," so I just didn't say anything.

Then things got creepy. He suddenly leaned toward my neck and sniffed! I instinctively backed away, but was mostly against the car already. He asked me what perfume I was wearing. I insisted that I wasn't wearing anything (which was true). He insisted that he could smell it "even from over here," when he stepped back again. I shrugged. Then he leaned forward again, closer this time. Fed up, I actually pushed him back and said, "Okay, I have to go now."

"So you don't want to meet at the park?" he asked one last time. Perservering bugger. This time I did flatly tell him, "No."

So that was my initially-complimentary, eventually-creepy run-in.

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4 comments:

John Cowan said...

First of all, I'm so sorry this happened to you. What a creep! And what a chilling story, more by reason of what might have happened than what did, fortunately.

Now comes the lecture.

The benefit of being a frump (your word) is that this sort of thing mostly doesn't happen. That's because by dressing down, you send signals that say "uninteresting, uninterested, unavailable, invisible." And since (by your own testimony) you've been doing that since you were twelve, you've never had to learn how to reject this sort of attention. Now suddenly, you are visible, and you're not used to it.

Consequently, you let the interaction with the creep go on much too long in the interests of being "polite", which meant that eventually you had to resort to (mild) physical violence. One day, if you don't change your tactics, you may lose that sort of contest -- and things will get really ugly then.

The rule for rejecting male attentions is the same as for voting in crooked elections: early and often. :-) As soon as you figured out that you weren't interested in his company (some time while "he chatted and [you were] polite" -- what kind of conversation is that?) was the time to tell him so, directly: "Thanks for the chat, but I'm not interested in talking with you further", and then walking away.

Don't worry about being tactless, especially not inside a store. Better tactless at first by overreacting (you'll learn from experience how much verbal force to use in different situations) than in trouble because you began by underreacting. At worst he'll get angry and yell something hateful, but even that isn't so very likely where others can see and hear.

In the long run this is much kinder. Men (alas) don't handle mixed signals well; if they feel led on -- and that can happen as the result of totally innocent, friendly behavior, as men are always looking for even a whisper of "Yes" behind the general "No" they experience in almost every interaction with a woman -- and then get thwarted, they can become very angry.

Therefore, above all, rejections have to be 100% clear. Leave no loophole for a possible further attempt. If he says "Well, see you later, then", don't mumble "Yeah"; say "No, you won't", plain as day. Relentlessly stomp out all possible hope. Really.

Do have fun experimenting with your identity -- it can be very rewarding -- but do be careful.

Yours mother-hennishly...

Arthaey said...

And since (by your own testimony) you've been [dressing down] since you were twelve, you've never had to learn how to reject this sort of attention.

Exactly. I realize now that I'll have to get over my need to be polite in some situations. This isn't saying I think I will have to be downright rude in most situations (hopefully). Firm is probably the right middle ground.

One day, if you don't change your tactics, you may lose that sort of contest -- and things will get really ugly then.

Thanks for being blunt. I thought this myself while being walked to my car. (It was disturbing enough to make me think, "Gee, this could have easily been much uglier," while in a populated-enough area that I still felt generally safe.) It helps to hear someone else voice the same concerns -- lets me know it's not just me being paranoid in unfamiliar situations.

The rule for rejecting male attentions is the same as for voting in crooked elections: early and often. :-)

Rofl. Poor guys. ;)

Do have fun experimenting with your identity -- it can be very rewarding -- but do be careful.

Thanks for the cautionary encouragement. It is indeed exciting trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be. I figure false steps are par for the course, and I'm not too worried about that so long as I learn fast enough how to keep myself safe.

Yours mother-hennishly...

If you didn't comment here, my mom would have. ;) And she did comment on the phone when I called her directly afterward. :)

Alexis said...

Seems like a harmless guy trying to figure out how to be intimate with women. Also like there was no personal/emotional connection going on, that kind of thing is what creeps me out, thus intimacy becomes "getting laid."

Arthaey said...

Hi, Alexis. Welcome! How'd you come across my blog? Just curious. :)

Alexis said: Seems like a harmless guy trying to figure out how to be intimate with women.

If he were a young guy -- teenager or college age -- then I'd agree that that could be a possible interpretation. But I'd guess this guy to be at least early 30's.

That's old enough to expect people to know better than to invade an almost-stranger's personal space in a parking lot after she's already declined invitations to meet later. To do it twice is definitely in the realm of creepy.