Most of my life is one, big awkward moment. It just kind of happens. In my day job, however, I field awkward questions all day. Questions about things that would make most people blush, but I don’t even bat an eyelash. You’d think I’d be much better at handling awkward moments.
Well, you’d be wrong.
Now, I’ve experienced cat calling and weird encounters with men. But this… this was something else entirely.
Picture this: I’m walking through the mall to go meet my best friend. I’m not a slow-walker. I’m not one who meanders through life. So I’m cruising. And I’m wearing heels so it’s clack-clack-clack-clack on the floor as I motor along.
A guy who I’ll call Jeff (because that’s his name as I found out) kind of waves me down and goes, “Hey, I know it’s weird to stop people in the mall, but I had to tell you, you’re so beautiful.”
Okay, well, two things Jeff: if you know it’s weird, then why are you doing this to me? Second, thank you and I know.
So I say thank you and try to keep walking, but Jeff is not giving up. Now, Jeff actually had a buddy with him, and his buddy stands off to the side and watches this exchange. Dare I say, he looked a little exasperated, so maybe Jeff does this a lot.
Jeff says I exude calmness like I’m into yoga. I tell him, “There is no person in my life who would describe me as calm.” He asks if I’m sure (yes) and if I’ve been smoking marijuana in the parking lot (no, Jeff, I have not).
The whole time this is happening I’m trying to angle my body away, take a few steps, but he is relentless. I start praying: “Oh dear Lord, please just take me now. This is it for me.”
Jeff asks what I do for work and, like an idiot, I answer. I say, stupidly, “I teach about healthy relationships and sexual health.” I swear his ears visibly perked up. “Oh that’s interesting, how did you get into that.” Kinda by accident, I say. Did it for practicum, blah blah blah, and realized I was good at it.
Oh you’re good at sex?
Jeff… Just… No.
“No, I’m good at teaching about sexual health.”
“Oh,” Jeff continues. “Well, I’ve never had any complaints either.”
Right, okay, Jeff, gold star for you, buddy.
Honestly, at this point it’s all a blur. I think I was probably becoming a little less beautiful through the sheen of sweat that was taking up residence all over my body. All the things I tell my students about being assertive were far from my mind.
Jeff tells me I’m hot (oh can he see me sweating???) and says he wants to take me for a drink. Here’s my chance to be assertive!
“I have a boyfriend, and he wouldn’t like that.” This is a lie. Not assertive.
Jeff: “I don’t want to be your boyfriend. I want to take you for a drink.”
I consider for a moment lying further and saying my boyfriend is built like Terry Crews and recently did time for beating up someone who looked at me wrong but I am a strong independent woman!
Jeff continues, “Unless you’re not interested.”
YES! My freedom, my salvation. “No, I’m not really interested.” YES! Strength, power, good job!
But my lack of interest means nothing to Jeff!
Jeff’s response to my clearly stated lack of interest is that he’ll take my number, just in case, so that “the moment doesn’t pass us by.” How I wish this moment would pass me by and be buried deep into my psyche. He’ll text me and if I don’t reply, that is fine.
He hands me his phone.
I put in my REAL NAME.
my ACTUAL PHONE NUMBER.
I can imagine this playing out in a movie and people screaming at the TV: “YOU IDIOT!”
Okay, bye now, Jeff, thank you for ruining my life.
I can only imagine that he told his friend (who I discovered is his COLLEAGUE – who does this with a work contact!?!?!?!) he would get my number no matter what, come hell or high water, and by golly, HE DID JUST THAT.
So we can all learn something here.
I can learn to be more assertive. To say “Hey, thanks very much but I’m not interested and no, you can’t have my number.”
And everyone everywhere can learn:
Do not be like Jeff.
See the signs, stop making people uncomfortable, and find a better use of your time. I am not a conquest. I am not something that needs conquering for your own ego.
Leave us alone.