Monday, May 08, 2006

why I should either take self-defense or start listening to my gut

Sometimes love unfolds like a blossom, sometimes love dawns like a new day, sometimes love shows up wearing a garish clown suit and honks a horn in your ear over and over and makes you want to smash it in the face with a crowbar.

A couple of weekends ago I went on something that I didn't think was a date and that I specifically asked that we not think of it as a date, but he showed up in the clown suit with the horn and the honking, leaving me wondering where the hell was my crowbar.

How it even came about was like this: weeks ago I went to see some short films about some canoe trips, because that's the kind of thing I'm interested in, just like you're interested in eating brownies and getting drunk on Jagermeister. Or whatever.

Anyway, walking back, a few people headed to the same bus stop, where about 10 different-numbered buses come through. One of the people was this guy who was friendly and chatted with me for about three whole minutes. I was friendly back because I'm a friendly person. Then his bus arrived, and he hastily handed me his card and said "I'd love to connect again sometime." I thought "OK, seems alright, likes paddling, whatever, sure."

I emailed him a while later, a brief note, and he emailed back. He was a little on the extravagantly effusive side in a slightly creepy way, which should have turned me off right there, but instead I thought, "maybe the guy is just not so good in the email medium", and I issued a restrained, polite response. I told him (because I was sure of this part) that I was just interested in the possibility of being friends. He agreed.

So I consented to meet up with him for a walk and a chat. What’s the harm, right? No harm. But my gut all along said "don’t give this man your number or let him know where you live."

Why did I go at ALL then, when my smart little belly was telling me all kinds of useful stuff? I suppose because I’m reasonably confident (that I could handle anything - if it were set up safely), curious (about different types of people, even ones I might not end up liking per se) and I generally like to have the philosophy that there are sometimes pleasant surprises in unlikely places.

So I set some parameters around the time, place, and duration, and met him in a popular park where there happen to be kid swings. When I arrived, there he was, swinging. He stayed on the swing for another 30 seconds after I showed up, then hopped off and said with forced nonchalance and a tinny little chuckle, "I guess you caught me being myself".

"Sweet Jesus," I thought, "not the new age and aging (but-you-can't-make-me-grow-up-I'm-a-free spirit!!!) self-absorbed, bullshit hippie type." (Which is, as my dear friend Adrienne correctly observed, "one of the least attractive types out there".)

Over the course of the next hour, we walked down to the river (where there were tons of people) and talked – or rather, HE talked, and I listened... Because really, how much do I have to TELL a man who I’ve just learned made a living as a professional psychic for a while? Indeed, why talk at all?

My curiosity - and silence - was richly rewarded. For example, it was revealed that in addition to his being psychic, he had had a "huge amount of energy work" done and that as a result he had "changed completely as a person", was in fact "a totally different person now", and that he "never got angry anymore". I wonder if by "energy work" he meant multiple treatments of "electroshock therapy".

He also kept referring to himself as "that handsome man", as if repeating this would make it true. Not so, my friend. Not so. Oh, and also, he's really into Tantric sex. Ew. Just imagine an hour of this type of conversation. Think Tim Robbins' character in High Fidelity, but even more repulsive.

So I’ve established the garish clown part of the simile I think. You must be wondering about what kind of metaphorical horn he was honking in my face?

Let me tell you. All the while he was talking about Tantric sex and how he can look "about three years into the future", he kept touching me and caressing me – lower back, waist, arms. I kept pulling away and walking farther and farther away from him, but finally had to say "OK I am really uncomfortable with you touching me. Please stop."

I mean, I don’t mind being touched – with people I know and where a mutual desire for physical contact has been established, I am super snuggly in fact. But this, this was making me cast about for blunt objects.

I guess it makes sense that he's no longer working as a psychic because his skills are curiously dulled - why, he even had trouble correctly interpreting basic body language. We sat on a rock for about half an hour and in the course of that half hour he kept inching toward me and leaning in; I kept inching back and leaning away. By the end, I was practically in the bushes. Psychic? Maybe. Psychic enough to read my mind and know that I found him physically invasive, totally inappropriate, and quite repulsive? No.

A few hours after we wrapped it up (which I did carefully and diplomatically, because who knows, really, maybe he was also subtly casting about for blunt objects by that point, know what I mean?), I got an email from him with some creepy lines in it, to wit:
I enjoyed you, plenty. I enjoyed your smile, your eyes, your posture, the playfulness of your showing me your tshirt and giving me permission to enjoy your curves and form.

THIS in fact is why it has taken me over a week to write about this, because it was SO gross, and SUCH a creepy misreading of what transpired (he looked at my shirt, big deal, there was no invitation and no permission to "enjoy" ANYTHING). I could not think about the whole event and this creepy email afterward without wanting to compulsively scrub every inch of my skin with Comet and/or [wanting to] barf. He read my rigid body language as flirtation? After I consistently recoiled, asked him to stop touching me, refused to commit to seeing him again, ended the visit abruptly? He was enjoying WHAT?! Ew. Ew. Ew.


Anyway, I felt I had to handle it delicately but firmly, put a final stop to the nonsense and replied (with the email equivalent of a crowbar in the face, I suppose):
I actually quite strongly feel that we are not on the same wavelength and I very clearly feel that I don't want to pursue anything with you.

And so, I have reached two conclusions:

1) I have to start listening to my gut. It is usually right.

2) I hope that in the karmic sense I have now earned the right to be pleasantly surprised by the discovery of someone delightful amd unexpected. Or maybe this was karmic payment for the surprising and unmitigated pleasure of meeting Eliza K Thomas on the night train from Barcelona to Granada about a year and a half ago, and then having breakfast with her three mornings in a row in Granada's Plaza Nueva before tramping around a beautiful city in Andalucia like some kind of free spirit hippie type.


At May 09, 2006 10:55 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

that email was so gross, it makes MY skin crawl just reading it... urghhhh!!! what a creepy bastard!! em.

At May 10, 2006 6:57 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did you even stick it out for a few hours? Why didn't you flee when you first became repulsed, minutes into meeting him? That is the one question that still lingers and is not explained.

Were you just too polite? Or was there some sick part of you that enjoyed brewing a gut of revulsion for this poor deluded fellow? or were you just sticking out the commitment, like watching a bad movie to the end, just because you paid the 4 bucks to rent it.

We need to learn to be more polite to ourselves and less so to the fuckups around us.

your sis.

At May 11, 2006 11:26 a.m., Blogger banjeroo said...

Yes, it's funny, I've been asking myself similar questions really.

I think initially it was because I went a little overboard on sticking to my philosophy that sometimes pleasant surprises happen in unexpected places (because this has happened to me a lot - not just wishful thinking). Which was then compounded by my tendency to be too polite.

This guy was over the top, but he was also pretty good at hanging out just on the edge of warranting a truly explosive confrontation/rejection.

Finally, I do admit that after a while, there was part of me that became sort of morbidly fascinated, (limited and counteracted by my growing revulsion). Knowing I could - and was - going to end it neatly and soon and never see him again, it was kind of interesting. I guess I don't mind sustaining a little bit of discomfort sometimes, in the name of social science.

I do think I kind of let it go a touch too far though, and I totally agree with the statement that "we" need to learn to be more polite to ourselves and less so to the idiots, maniacs and fuckups around us.

(While it's perfectly lovely to imagine that most people out there are basically good and interesting and worth getting to know, the fact is there are actually a lot of self-absorbed, time-and-energy sucking, creepy, desperate, toxic people out there too.)

At May 16, 2006 3:38 p.m., Blogger The Dude said...

Ok, first of all you forgot to mention you met him in dim light. Key information! Also, you should've titled your post "I enjoyed you, plenty." Because really, that is just poetry.

At May 18, 2006 11:47 a.m., Blogger Rik said...

what i don't get is why you would want to scrub your skin with barf?

other than that, a priceless classic.

At May 18, 2006 3:17 p.m., Blogger banjeroo said...

My friend nailed it:

coco: this morning i was thinking about that creepo guy
and the 'permission to enjoy your curves and form'
i was sick to my stomach all over again

banjeroo: yes
a friend wanted me to change the post title to "I enjoyed you, plenty" because it is SO creepy

coco: how could he possibly have come up with something so overwhelmingly disgusting

banjeroo: yes

coco: i really have never read anything quite so creepy in my LIFE
something about the concept of 'permission'

banjeroo: I know

coco: as though he knows that you might not want him to

banjeroo: it's new age speak
where everything has to be negotiated

coco: he's trying to imply that he's not over-straying any boundaries

banjeroo: yes
which he WAS

coco: exactly and that is the creepiest thing in the whole world
it means that you don't actually have to rely on your instincts or common humanity
instead everything is, as you say, a negotiated deal


Post a Comment

<< Home