Be assured I'm not going away. I have collected a number of stories that will see the light of digital day sometime in the future. I have a pair of Stranger columns in the chute that I'm quite pleased with, so those are forthcoming. And there's always my Twitter for 140-character bursts of whimsy, fashion-porn, and occasional bits of (I hope) brilliance.
And, now a story I've told before. It came to my mind over the weekend, as some female pals and I were talking about sexual approaches that were doomed to fail.
What Not To Say
In spite of sometimes-considerable provocation, I try not to talk too much here about the recent, real-life bad behaviors of people I encounter. At least not so that they could identify themselves - it just seems too unkind. I have a lot of power in this forum, and I try to use it only for good.
However, there are exceptions to that rule. So while this is not my story, it's from a reliable source, and it's so breathtakingly bad that I had to say something.
Not long ago, a woman I know moved to a new town - not Seattle - and she went to a munch where she knew no one. A man there introduced himself and was very friendly to her, as men will be. In fact, one might reasonably say he was hitting on her.
Nothing wrong with that, exactly. He just didn’t do it very well, you understand. Apparently he was a bit too forward with the social touching, for example. I have met this man myself, and I have my own observations of his social skills, and what she said lined up with my impression of him. But my friend is a laid-back girl, and so she just shrugged it off.
Okay, fast-forward: the munch is over, she’s leaving, and he’s walking her to her car. And with no obvious pretext whatsoever, he turns to her and says, “So where are you on your cycle?”
She looked at him. “Excuse me?”
“Are you close to your period? You just look kinda puffy, like you’re retaining water.”
My pal told me this, and my jaw dropped open in disbelief. “No, he did not say that to you. He did not.”
She closed her eyes and laughed a little, ruefully. “Yes, yes he did.”
Sweet Jesus Christ. I was dumbstruck with astonishment by this tale. I cannot believe that any man past the age of toilet-training would be so stupid as to actually say this a woman. I mean any man, to any woman, at any time, ever. Neither Max nor Monk would dream of ever saying something like this to me, even though there have been times when I was retaining so much water that I should have had a freaking salmon ladder built over my abdomen. If you have a female partner, yeah, sometimes you can tell when her body looks a little different. But only a flipping idiot would remark on the matter to his or her beloved. The correct response, if your girlfriend says, “Do I look puffy?” is “No, sweetheart, not at all.” If really pressed, you might squint thoughtfully at her and say, “Well, maybe your boobs look a little bigger. Otherwise, nah, you look great.”
That’s how you handle it with a woman you’re intimate with, and it doesn’t seem like you’d have to be real clever to figure that out. So I am astounded at the thickheadedness of a man who thinks it’s cool to tell a woman he just met, whom he is hitting on, that she looks puffy. I mean, what are you thinking? How could anyone imagine that such a remark would endear you to a girl? Saying that kind of thing to women is a really good way to grow cobwebs across your cock.
It's barely possible that this man thinks he's such a True Dominate Master that he can say things like this and women will find it acceptable. He'd be wrong, of course, but it's the only even-slightly-comprehensible explanation I can think of. (I suppose he could be a menstruation fetishist, but he didn't say so, and that still wouldn't make the remark any less horrifying. )
Ready for some extra-bonus-wrongness points? This man is himself a rather large fellow. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re going to go around telling women you just met they look puffy, you invite their examination of your figure, and if it speaks of a lot of high-sodium snacks, it makes a girl think, Well at least my puffiness will go away in a couple of days, buddy.
Super-extra-bonus-wrongness points: when they got to her car, he tried to kiss her. I am so not making this up. I am not. I could not have made this up if I tried. It’s so wrong. (She dodged it, thankfully.)
No, she didn’t tell him he was a prat, she’s too polite, and plus the whole thing caught her off guard. But you can bet she’ll be avoiding him in the future.
Now, I don’t know that this fellow reads this blog. I hope he doesn't. But in case he does: yes, I’m talking about you. I am sure you’re mortified by this. However, note that I did not name or describe you, or mention the city, and I could have. Unless you tell them, no one but you, the woman involved, and me know that it’s you. Your best response would be to keep quiet and learn something from this. I don’t think you’re evil, but I think you’ve done some socially inappropriate things, and yes, sometimes you’re gonna get called on that. It’s a growing-up process. You seem active in your pursuit of the ladies, so here’s my advice: Your hands should be kept more to yourself until such time as a woman makes it clear she wants you to touch her. And your unflattering and too-intimate remarks on a woman’s appearance should remain unsaid forever.
(First published: Tuesday, April 01, 2008)