The Scene: Molly Malone's Irish Pub, around 7p on a Saturday. ironysenabler and I had just finished up a marathon work sesh at LACMA ('sup, free wifi) and popped 'round for a quick wind-down/pre-night out cocktail.
I am exhausted. When ironysenabler runs to the ladies' room, I relax into the bar...and straight into introvert zone. It's been a long day and I still have a bit of an evening ahead.
Enter RANDOM MAN NEXT TO ME. He had been chatting with his work buddies (I assume they're work buddies - they're all wearing matching shirts of a non-athletic nature)/separates himself slightly from the group to gift me with his full, undivided attention.
RMNTM: I like your dress.
(I'm wearing a silver sequined hoodie dress. It has already garnered a solid amount of recognition throughout the day.)
Me: (smiling) (slightly lethargically) Thank you.
RMNTM: It's so sparkly.
Me: (laughing weakly [but politely!]) Yeah, it is.
RMNTM scoots a bit closer: What's your name?
I feel myself sigh, unsure if it's an internal or external exhale. Not only am I not in the mood to chat up a stranger, period, but RMNTM's quick jump to asking my name somehow feels too forward, too personal - or maybe it's just something in his delivery of the query. Whatever it is, I don't especially like it and decide to be honest about my ideal end to this situation. (Hint: It's the situation ending. Like now-ish, if at all possible.)
Me: (smiling beseechingly) I'm sorry, I just really don't feel like talking right now.
RMNTM: (bristling) You can tell me your name. I was just trying to be friendly.
Well, yes - I can tell you my name. I possess that ability. But the point is, I don't want to. If you're really "just trying to be friendly", that friendliness should include respecting the fact that I'm just trying to be friendly while still making it clear that I do not wish to engage. Friend.
The situation ends with him shooting me a look of death, then whispering to his cronies who follow suit/add in a few eye-rolls of their own.
Cool. Welp, that was a fun getting complimented experience! Really wish that would happen more often.
I later talked the situation over with a few guy friends - two of whom immediately defended RMNTM, saying he was just trying to be nice/what's the big deal/would it really have been that hard to just talk to the guy. One added, "You're a strong* female; you can take care of yourself if the conversation goes south." I will address these assertions/inquiries in a moment. (While seething inside.)
The third GF replied, "Well, you triggered his insecurities and self worth." Right. Obviously. So obvious, I realized, that my assessment of the potential for triggering of this kind has become innate - it has actually burrowed its way into my survival instinct. Each time I find myself in an encounter like the one with RMNTM, my subconscious shifts into high-alert mode, gauging the threat - the man's size, his demeanor, our surroundings, and, most importantly, the length of the dude's fuse - and pings me to act accordingly.
As innocuous as the specific sitch with RMNTM sounded to GFs 1 & 2, the reason it was "such a big deal"/the idea of a convo felt so taxing to me, is that these types of encounters are not few and far between. They vary in scale and aggression, but they happen multiple times per day. Multiple. Times. Per. Day. Having to constantly tailor your behavior to account for the fact that the wrong response might result in your being verbally or physically accosted is not a real good time. Especially if you're a strong* female. I would love nothing more than to tell every crudely amorous dude to kindly go f*ck himself - as I did to one such gentleman earlier this week. (Minus the 'kindly' part.) (That assessing subconscious of mine apparently didn't act fast enough to counter my severe indignation. Either that or I just blatantly/brazenly ignored the 'play nice' pings.) You know how the guy reacted? He spent the next three blocks swerving into my lane, flipping me off, and speeding ahead of me/slamming on his brakes. You know, a totally measured response. Sure, maybe RMNTM would never do that sort of thing, but he did exhibit the same sense of entitlement to my time and attention. If he were really "just trying to be nice", I wouldn't have been left feeling so ganged up on. (See paragraph 7 re: friendly, friendliness, friendly, friend.)
Long story not half as long as it could be, it can be f*cking exhausting to be a woman (and/or woman-child) in this patriarchy-ridden world, so if we tell you we're too tired to talk, don't blame us - blame your creepiest friend. (You know the one.) (Okay yeah, him too.)
*We both mean strong in the feminist-y sense. Not in the actual physical sense. Just ask my Pilates instructor.