A story with a few tips on how to ask someone out and handle a rejection effectively…
So this fun thing happened to me the other day and I just want to share my experience (by the way this is not the first time this has happened at all) so that it doesn’t seem as ‘rare’ of an occurrence and also so people can understand what is right and wrong if they are confused when approaching people they find attractive in public.
The other day, I was at another amazing concert by one of my favorite bands, Rubblebucket.
I was with 4 of my friends, 2 of whom were men (one of those men, my brother). Early into the show, we took a photo together and 3 people behind us photobombed it twice, so we brought them in and took a photo with them. They were very nice, 2 women and a man. We talked with them for a bit before parting. Later, I drank something that made me feel sick, so I sat in the back and watched the show while my friends danced in the crowd. The man from earlier came up to me on his way to the bathroom and started talking to me. He asked me about my life, what I do, was very friendly.
He said, “Am I bothering you?”
I said, “no.”
We spoke for a bit longer and he went away. My brother called him ‘The Moustache Guy’ because he thought his moustache was funny.
Later into the night, Moustache Guy kept finding me and smiling at me in the crowd. He did not approach me again until a bit later, when he asked if we could exchange numbers. I told him I wasn’t comfortable giving him my number (he was very nice, but I didn’t want to give him the wrong message that I was interested in him romantically, even if he just wanted to be friends). He said, “Okay, that’s fine,” said something about how the show was great and it was nice to meet me. He walked away and rejoined his friends.
At the same time, a man in a blue and white baseball cap (let’s call him ‘Cap Man’) was staring at me from the left. He was staring at me directly and not the show. I could see him out of my periphery. He shuffled around a bit, I figured maybe he was just checking me out, but then he continued to stare at me straight on. I became uncomfortable, so I had two of my friends stand in between us. I continued dancing and having a good time until I noticed the same man had moved behind me and a bit to my right. He continued to stare at me head-on… but maybe he was just watching the show and needed a better view. Regardless, I moved in front of the two friends who were originally between us to give me space. I continued dancing and having a good time.
Just a few minutes later, Cap Man was right next to me, staring at me. I told these two friends I was uncomfortable and asked them to watch me, to make sure I wasn’t alone. The band moved into the crowd, as they do, because they are Rubblebucket, and I watched my surroundings very carefully as we followed them. The Cap Man was in front of me. I made sure he stayed in front of me.
The show ended and as the room cleared, we all made our way out the door. The Moustache Guy and his two friends smiled and said goodbye to us. One of my friends had to close her tab, so we waited with her. Eventually, I see Cap Man approaching us and I avoid him. The one male friend who stood between us came with me as I left to get our coats. The other friends stayed to close their tabs.
As I’m standing in line to get the coats with my friend, my heart is beating fast. I text my friends at the bar asking them to stay away from the creepy Cap Man, assuming they know better. My male friend is reassuring me that he would make sure I wasn’t alone.
Soon after, Cap Man finds me and approaches me in line. The line is long. I don’t get out of the line. He says, “I just talked to your brother and he said I should talk to you.”
Oh great, I think. My brother is drunk. He didn’t know better.
Cap Man continues, “I’m Mike. What is your name?” he says in a very demanding manner as he stands over me way too close, in my personal space. He is not giving off good vibes.
He proceeds to ask me what I do. I do many things, but out of the many things I do, I chose the one thing that wouldn’t warrant someone to search my name on the Internet. I tell him, “I’m a teacher.” He says, “I’m a state trooper.”
“Great,” I respond, thinking, ‘HE HAS A GUN. He can look up my information.’
“What do you teach?” he asks. ‘English,’ I say.
“Who do you teach?” “I teach kids.”
He continues to ask the question. He doesn’t like my answer when I continue to say kids and continues to raise his voice. He starts to scare me, so I text my brother telling him who exactly he sent my way, begging him to come find me.
As I’m texting my brother, Cap Man yells at me, says, “Well, it seems like YOU WANT ME TO FUCK OFF, HUH?!”
I didn’t know what to say. He continues to mumble, standing wayyy too close to me, and I say, “Sorry, I’m not interested,” in a level voice.
“INTERESTED IN WHAT?” he demands.
I didn’t know what to say. I was very scared.
“IN ANYONE?” he yells.
“Uhh… yeah,” I say. Really, I haven’t been romantically interested in anyone in awhile. It wasn’t a bad answer.
He storms off.
I told a bouncer at the concert hall what had happened and told him to look out for the guy. The bouncer said that he couldn’t do anything about it. Thankfully, I had my friends walk me to my car. My brother apologized a million times. He said that Cap Man acted normal when he spoke to him. Also, my brother was not aware of the staring situation that had occurred earlier.
I was forced to turn my attention ‘on’ to something else other than the concert in order to protect my own safety. I was forced to move around, to ask others to protect me and turn their attention away from the concert, too, in case he were to kidnap me or put me in an unsafe situation.
It may seem like a harmless situation, a man merely interested in asking out a woman, but it felt and was a very dangerous situation.
I could have been kidnapped. He could have thrown me into a bathroom somewhere and raped me. He could have drugged my drink, dragged me into his car. He could have killed me. Those were the very real consequences I was facing and this is one reason why many women don’t go out on their own, why many, many women choose to go to the bathroom in groups.
This is no rare occurrence. Men have been very demanding, stalk-y, and creepy to me before. They have been forceful in their advances. They have touched me in inappropriate places without my permission. Every damn woman on this Earth will tell you the same thing unless they were extremely lucky.
But do you know who acted in a perfectly fine manner? Moustache Guy. Moustache Guy was very kind and respectful when he spoke to me. He did not demand any answers, he asked me if he was bothering me, and when I said I didn’t want him to have my number, he was very understanding and backed off.
Be like Moustache Guy. Definitely do not ever be like Creepy Cap Guy.
If you’re a woman in an unsafe situation, don’t shrug it off, don’t “gaslight yourself,” as a friend of mine put it, and choose not to follow your gut. A man following you and staring at you is an unsafe situation. Your increasing heart rate is not wrong. Protect yourself in any way that you can.
This has been a PSA.
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Photo courtesy of Michelle Polacinski