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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.

Comments

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kass_rants
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
Ick.

Suckage.
attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
Totally. But no harm done, except for the psychic shower needed afterwards. :)
vom_schwarzwald
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
That *is* creepy. It sounds like he was one step away from whistling the "time is on my side" tune...*shudder*

Never know when the slightly off guy comments on, I don't know, how nice your skin is and then decides it would make a great pair of gloves.

I think I have seen too many horror films.
patrikia
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
My husband has/had (in his prime, anyway - don't let him know I said it that way!) thick shoulder length curly blond hair - to die for. A lady behind us in the grocery line once said to him, "You don't perm that, do you?"

No, he answered.

"I hate you!" And not in a playful way, I might add. He was really upset!

At least the airline attendant who rifled her fingers through his hair asked MY permission first (not his, mind you - just mine!).
attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
Lost Cause (buy our album!) was doing a Christmas performance in a bookstore a couple of years ago, and in the intermission, a woman came up to Bob and said "can I ask you a question?" "Sure," he said.

"Can I... touch your hair?"

He gets that all the time. :)
(no subject) - oakenking - Feb. 26th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
gwacie
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately in this modern world of awful haircuts having long hair makes you something of an oddity and celebrity... it attracts attention and not always nice attention. I've been lucky in that I've not met any scary stalker dudes, though I have run into having a polite smile translated as "Gee I like you and want to date you" No dude! I was being -polite- go away!! *shudder* eew ew ew.

Best moment; a gentleman passed on the street saying "Girl, don't you -ever- cut that hair!" what an ego boost :)

Worst moment; getting yelled at by a check-out lady in the cafeteria for having long hair when "there are babies that need hair" Ya know, "Locks for Love" is a great cause, my Dad gives to it every so often when his hair is long enough. I refuse to believe that my not donating my hair is immoral any more than the choice of others to keep theirs short is. hmf! So there! </soapbox>
kass_rants
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Worst moment; getting yelled at by a check-out lady in the cafeteria for having long hair when "there are babies that need hair"

WTF? Idjit checkout lady! I hope you turned sharply on your little heel and lashed her impudent face with it. Jealous creep...
(no subject) - damedini - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alinore - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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jljonsn
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
Was it the words themselves, or the non-verbals that creeped you out? Would it have been different if a (insert favority hunky actor) look-alike had said it in a smooth-jazz-DJ voice?
attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
anyone saying that *after* following me around for half an hour would be rebuffed - it's a combination of verbals and non-verbals. I think anyone saying "nice hair" in a "you're pretty, I think I'll keep you" voice, no matter how hunky, would be creepy. But there's a special creepy these guys have, with tone of voice, words, and movement that sets of strident alarm bells instinctively.

I always listen to my instincts. :)
(no subject) - jljonsn - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Feb. 27th, 2008 10:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - parlor_games - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ornerie - Feb. 26th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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bantiarna
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
At least he did not touch you. When my hair was at my hips I would get that same hair thing. My hair is evidently a rather different color (I call it blond) and I would get people walk up behind me, lift a hank of it off my back and look at it before saying something about the color.

Um . . Did I give you permission to touch me? Stay back!
attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
I must give off some kind of "don't touch me" vibe; the only people who will ever touch my hair (which is a terribly intimate thing to do, since it is so near the head) are friends.

I've had guys touch my arms and back without invitation, but never my hair.
(no subject) - ornerie - Feb. 26th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - compass_rose - Feb. 26th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
the_thread_lady
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
I find that about 98% of the time your instincts are good. The 2% they are not, well, it is not worth the risk.

It is always smart to be safe.

attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
Yes.
ladygriele
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
I have to agree sometimes the best thing is not to be nice to "creepy stalker guy". Even if the guy is trying to be nice some guys just wear "Creepy Stalker" like a neon sign around their neck.
myladyswardrobe
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
I can relate to this. Mine is a golden natural blonde and well, weirdos do like it - and touch it!

Ergh - very creepy!
maricelt
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Always trust the gut.
Glad things were ended on a safe note.
damedini
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
I totally get what you're saying. I seem to attract nutbars on public transit. Marriage proposals, loud declarations of... (love, lust, my beauty,whatevs). And the sort of creep you describe.
I'm glad he didn't make following moves, and that you're savvy to dealing with it.
parlor_games
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
I am a natural redhead, with long hair in an unusual, faintly strawberry shade, and people will actually TOUCH IT. Yikes.

And you know what? I don't care if they are offended when I am cold cold cold. Socially inappropriate can quickly spiral into dangerous. When people - sorry, mostly guys - give you a compliment/ask you out/chat you up, and you are not friendly in return because the way they are doing it is creepy or simply unwelcome, please ladies...don't ever feel bad when they get torqued out of shape. We do not have to be grateful for someone else foisting their attention on us. I have spent a lot of time in clubs, and I have so much I can say about that issue, I barely know where to start.
attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
There is a special kind of asshole who will manipulate women into being nice because they're "supposed" to be polite.

Like I said in my post - fuck that. :)

It's a *huge* issue - especially when some people refuse to understand what the big deal is. The "big deal" is that my attention and friendship is mine to confer where I will, and I owe it to no-one.
(no subject) - parlor_games - Feb. 26th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
alinore
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
I usually wear my hair long, it just looks best that way, and the weirdest thing was when I was at a sci-fi convention and I had someone just walk up to me and start braiding my hair without asking or even saying hello first.
attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
That gets a physical reaction from me - and not a happy one. >:(
(no subject) - alinore - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kass_rants - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alinore - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
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kass_rants
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
How, oh how did any of these people live to see another day?
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Feb. 26th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
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tudorlady
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
I used to get the same thing when I wore my hair loose (knee-length, thick, wavy, almost but not quite black). I haven't worn it loose in public in many years, but occasionally I'll get someone who's very perceptive - or speculative - mention it. And like you, back when I got about the same proportion of creepy/not creepy remarks, so I feel ya.

Now that it's worn braided and pinned up, I'm pretty convinced that most people assume it's a hairpiece or wig. Sheez.
attack_laurel
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Ohhhhhhh, jealousy. I wish I could get mine that long, but the dye damages it too much. Hip length is the best I can hope for.

You start to understand why women throughout history have kept their hair covered - apparently some men have the same reaction to long hair that they do to boobies.
(no subject) - tinchick - Feb. 26th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
red dye options - fiberferret - Feb. 26th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: red dye options - attack_laurel - Feb. 27th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spranglady - Feb. 26th, 2008 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gwacie - Feb. 26th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
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