attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

Creepy MacCreepyPants

 Oh, this happened to me yesterday.

I was in Michael's Arts & Crafts, buying mats and mounting tape, and from the moment I came in, I was vaguely and uncomfortably aware of someone shadowing me from a little way away.  I dodge down various aisles picking out the things I came for, but I'm always aware (it's a girl thing, I guess) of this guy, and his tuneless whistling not far from me.  As long as he kept his distance I didn't care, but as I'm going up to the cash register, I hear from behind me:

"Oh, my GOD!  *pause*  You have the most beautiful hair I've ever seen!"  not yelled, just said at a conversational volume, but it was weird.

I turn around, and there's the vaguely creepy guy standing about twenty feet from me, staring.  He's keeping his distance, so I turn on my cold, cold I'm-not-coming-anywhere-near-you-that-was-weirdly-inappropriate look, and say "thanks"*.  And turned away again.  I hear him rambling on about my hair as I leave, and I'm keeping an eye out to make sure he doesn't follow me (he didn't) as I went out to my car.

Look, I'm used to random strangers commenting on my hair - it's waist-length, bright copper red, and when light hits it, it glows.  I do it that way on purpose - I think it looks good.  Clearly, from the comments I get, other people do, too.  99% of the comments I get are completely normal - men, women, they compliment it, smile, and move on.  Some people ask me if it's real, and I don't mind; it can only barely be considered a natural colour.  If they ask nicely, I'll even tell them my brand.

But that last 1% - they're not "special" (retarded) or mentally ill (I'm usually pretty good at picking that out), they're just creepy.  Most of you reading this entry will now be picturing that kind of creepy perfectly.  It's hard to explain, but boy do you know it when it happens, and Holy Mother Mary, it is nasty.

99 times out of 100, it is merely a result of poor socialization, and a lack of understanding about appropriate things to say in public.  The trouble is that 1% of the time when it signals real danger - a man who will follow you, decide you're his to stalk, and put you in real danger.  Unfortunately, that 1% makes every man that does this suspect.  

They say "Gee, I'm just being nice", and "Why won't you smile?", like I'm the one who is at fault for causing this entirely unacceptable situation to occur.  If I do smile, or try and be friendly, I suddenly have someone who at best, is so poorly socialized that he now thinks we're friends (these guys are notoriously poor at reading "go away now" smiles, so it's better not to smile at all), and at worst, hellooooo stalker**, so fuck that.  I'm not being rude, you're being a manipulative asshole, counting on my indoctrination into society's expectations for girls to "make nice". 

You may think I'm overreacting, but I've had that happen to me more than once, and it is scary.  Someone who chooses not to/doesn't understand social boundaries will generally not respect physical ones, either, and I'm 5'3" and 135# - no matter how much I fight*** , a 300#, 6' dead weight will trap me.  I can inflict a lot of hurt, but if someone is determined to hurt me, there's not a lot I can do if I haven't been wary enough to distrust them in the first place.

So, guys, if you choose to mention how nice my hair looks, don't be creepy.  This doesn't mean you have to be perfectly cool - I once had a guy come up to me, mutter "youarethemostbeautifulpersonIhaveeverseen" very fast, and quickly disappear in a cloud of extreme shy, and it was cute, not scary at all.  "Nice hair" is a very happy-making thing to hear, as long as you haven't stalked me for half an hour beforehand, and please, don't keep talking after I have walked away from you - that says "crazy, and not in a good way".

I'm just sayin'.

*In a very tight-lipped "get away from me" kind of way.  This is probably why he didn't follow me - I scared him (I hope).

**Yes, I know cute guys murder and attack women all the time - the guy in the store wasn't ugly, just off.  Any man who chose to follow me around a craft store for half an hour (except for my long-suffering husband) would be pretty off, in my estimation.

***I have heard all the suggestions for self-defense techniques, please, no suggestions.  Some of them might be effective, but many of them are wrong, and some downright stupid.  The most effective deterrent is avoiding trouble by being aware, and if that means being over-cautious and hurting a guy's feelings, then perhaps he needs to consider what the hell he's doing following a woman through a craft store in the first place.
Tags: creepy man, stalker
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