Thursday, October 21, 2004

An Incident

I related this story to Max over dinner and we had an interesting chat about it…

So, Miss K and I have just finished dinner at Hana, as we do every week, and afterwards I decide to walk upstairs to the bathroom, which is not in the restaurant proper, but actually in the rear of the little shopping complex where Hana is located.
As I walk up the stairs, I see a man, who'd been sitting near us in the restaurant, walking up the stairs about six steps ahead of me, presumably heading to men's room. He turns and looks back at me, and sort of grins.
"I saw you on Saturday," he said.
Now, I guess immediately what he's talking about. He means, "I was at the Wet Spot on Saturday night and I saw you there." I was indeed there, and while I have zero memory of seeing him, I believe that he saw me.
But for some reason, I don't like it that he's said this to me. I've said it before – I can be a snooty bitch at times, especially if I'm being addressed by a strange man in a way I find, well, slightly presumptuous.
I raise one eyebrow in a way that anyone who's ever bottomed to me would recognize. "Really?" I say, coolly.
"Yeah," he says, staring at me.
I look away and shrug slightly to indicate I don't quite take his meaning, and more subtly, that I don't particularly wish to. If he was smart, he'd stop now.
"You know – over in Magnolia," he says instead.
His coyness irritates me further. We're alone on the staircase, so why play word games? Since he's obviously not going to let it go, I say, "At the Wet Spot."
"Yeah, yeah." He's still staring at me avidly – it's almost a leer - and he's not an attractive sight. He's a rather unkempt-looking man who resembles no one as much as Jack Black (the "School of Rock" guy) with less hair, and rather less charm. There's some vague taste of that childhood sing-song, "I know what you did" in his tone and his gaze, and I'm touched by a tiny flicker of awareness that yes, we actually are alone on this staircase. I’m not truly worried, but the animal-instinct part of me makes a few quick what-would-I-do-if? calculations.
I say nothing further and my arctic stare seem to finally communicate to him that I don't want to be having this conversation, because he starts up the stairs again. As I reach the landing behind him, he turns back again and makes a final remark to me – something about how maybe he'll see me again sometime. I've forgotten the exact phrasing. I make some noncommittal noise and turn away.

Later I asked myself – why did that displease me so? I'm not trying to say I shouldn't have felt the way I did. I think I'm completely entitled to my feelings, and to act on them almost any way I want, within the bounds of basic civility. And while I was definitely frosty to that guy, I wasn't openly rude.

But I'm trying to isolate what, precisely, I didn't like. It could have been as simple as the fact that he's a strange man, and he's approaching a woman alone, not quite on the street but damn close, to discuss his having seen her at a fetish event. It looks like a clumsy attempt at a pick-up. I mean – why else do it? What's the motivation?

Max asked me, "So, what if it had been a woman?"

Good question. I probably still wouldn't have liked it, because I generally don't talk to strangers in public places. (Strangers at, say, a party are quite different. There are cases where "the roof constitutes an introduction". That doesn't apply here.) But I probably would have been somewhat less frosty to a woman, because it's quite rare, in my experience, for women to almost-leer in the way this man was. I'd probably think she was a bit gauche, but harmless.

"Okay," said Max, "what if he'd been a really attractive man?"

Oh, that's a tough one, because I don't generally do lust-at-first-sight. You usually have to hang around a little while before I start to get schwinged by you. But I have seen people of both genders who immediately made me think, "Oh yeah…"

But I think I probably still would have stiffened up, because to me, personality is more important than looks. And if he had the kind of personality that make him feel it was cool to initiate a conversation with a stranger about something as relatively intimate as her presence at a BDSM club, well, I'd probably cease to find him attractive.

I'm interested to hear what you other ladies thing think. What would you think about this? And what would you have done?

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