Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gym stalker

I thought the gym was a bad place to find romance. Yeah, there can be plenty of eye candy there, but usually few people talk to someone new/arrange a date with someone met at the gym. No one had ever approached me at the gym before...until this guy.

While heading to the locker room one evening, this guy taps on my shoulder and asks to see my headphones. He says he's ordering some online that look similar to mine and he wants to check mine out. I tell him mine are at least 10 years old and are nothing fancy. Immediately I thought this was a sketchy conversation starter on his part, because mine look grungy. The ear foam is half fallen off and some of the plastic is broken.

I quickly grab my headphones back after he's listened to the sound and get myself back to the locker room.

The next evening, he's there again. He introduces himself as Pedro. He says he's 27. He's Hispanic, on the shorter side, quite skinny, and has braces. I tell him my name and he starts following me around the gym. He asks me to show him some of my workouts. I tell him I'm not a personal trainer or anything but know plenty of exercises. I joke that he has to cough up the dollars if he wants me to show him anything. I tell him my rate is $200/hour.

He tries to make conversation as he follows me around, asking when I usually come to the gym, how often I work out, etc.

He starts showing up every night before I get there and leaving after I do. I am quite independent and grow sick of having this little puppy dog follow me around night after night. I love workouts because it's my alone time, it's for me.

Just simple words with him are becoming irritating, so I start trying to throw him off. He asks me what I do for fun, and I tell him that I eat boogers. I asks me what my favorite movies are, and I tell him Barney, Baby Bop, and Sesame Street. He continues to ask stupid small talk questions while I just grunt or give ridiculous half-ass, two word answers.

Soon I just stop talking to him, to give him the hint. He doesn't get it. I notice that often he just looks me up and down while I lift weights, and he doesn't lift a finger. So I decide to just say rude things to him - tell him to hurry up, tell him he's being lazy while I sweat, etc. It bothers me the way he looks at me. As the days go on, I insist he owes my $200/hour for all the "sessions" he's followed me for. I walk fast as a lunatic to get away from him, to the other sides of the gym, but he follows me. Soon I start telling him to just go away - especially after one day he tells me he's sick and he still follows me around. I say not to look at me, to face the other direction of where I'm working out, not to stand so close, blah blah.

One night he follows me out to my car when I'm leaving. I stop and say I forgot where I parked, hopefully to get him to keep on moving so he doesn't see what I drive. My plan doesn't work and he hesitates right there with me. I tell him to leave me alone and start walking in the opposite direction of where I know my car is, but he just runs after me. Finally I give up and head to the parking deck back to my car. He follows and I wordlessly try to shut the door. He holds it open and tries to hug me goodbye while I yell, "Don't touch me!" He gets his head in the car and tries to kiss me. I push his ass out of there and speed away, pissed as hell.

I don't know if it's a language barrier or what, but I don't care. He may not have as large a brain as I do, but I don't care. Sexual harassment is a global concept, and I made it clear I don't even have a desire to speak to him as a friend, yet he continued to push.

I start working out at my apartment more. I wordlessly avoid him at our next gym encounter. He follows me to every area I go in the gym. So, without words, I march straight to the front desk, as I should have a week ago. I quietly but with a rush of adrenaline tell the staff member this guy is sexually harassing me, following me when I tell him not to, disrupting my workouts, and continues to look me up and down and stand too close to me.

The staff guy tells me he'll have a word with Pedro. I stand to the side. Pedro walks away after their exchange. Staff guy says Pedro won't be bothering me anymore and that he has been given a warning, and if he does one more thing that makes me uncomfortable, his gym membership would be revoked.

Pedro never spoke to me again, although I continued to see him there nightly for about two more weeks. Luckily, I moved to another part of town and started going to a different gym.

Talk about not being able to take rejection. I hope he never gets a date in his life. But with that kind of game, I truthfully don't think he will.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Audacity

Retelling this story, the idea of what this guy was thinking gets more and more ridiculous.

Several years ago, I was dating this guy I wasn't totally sure about. My current practice is a harsh but necessary process in which I immediately get rid of a guy the moment I discover we aren't going to work. (That is another story, but I highly recommend this tactic - it has worked great for me and ensures that not a further moment of either person's time is wasted.)

Back to the original story now. Let's call this guy "Herbert" for the present. I met Herbert at church. He asked me if I was seeing anyone (I wasn't) and we made a date from there. The ensuing few dates went fine, but I wasn't the mature young woman that I am now. I had many doubts but kept going along with the guy for a few weeks. Most of the moments in our time together would be too boring to recount, so I'm going to jump ahead.

It's about five weeks in since we met. Herbert and I are having one of our usual nighttime phone conversations. He ends up working in the following words over the phone:

"So what do you think about marrying me someday? Do you think that's something that could work?"

Now, I'd hate to give away my age here. So just imagine yourself as you once were, your most naive self, one who just started entertaining the idea of going on dates. That was me. I'd only really had one relationship at this point, and it was hardly serious. In my head, to answer Herbert's question, I was saying, "WTH?! What are you talking about? Me? Marriage? Ummmmmm..."

Unfortunately I don't recall what I told him; I do know that brushed him off, with the idea that I hadn't ever even entertained the idea of marrying someone and it was far too ridiculous to even think about thinking about it. I didn't outright reject him; rather, I changed the subject in a way that didn't put the possibility of marrying me completely out of his mind.

And we're fast-forwarding again. It's a holiday weekend and my female friend Britney and I are the some of the few people left in town. Herbert happens to be in town, with his family visiting. So between Herbert and I we round up a group to spend a night out together. We hit up a pub, play some pool, walk around in the cold a bit, I put together that he's in such a rush to get married because his several-years-younger brother is engaged...and that's that. I don't think much more of it.

Herbert is sitting on my bed one day. He pats a space close next to him and asks me to sit down. He takes my hand gently. He says, "M, I really like you. Much, much more than I should or ever thought I would. You're beautiful, you're sweet, you're smart, [blah blah blah]... I do have something I have to tell you, though."

He continues, "I've been thinking a lot. You know I overthink and analyze everything. I've lost sleep over this, and I've given it a lot of thought: You know your friend Britney, right?"

I nod yes.

"Well, like I said, M, I like you too much, I think," he pauses, "but I respect you enough to let you know that I really liked Britney. She's a person with whom I could spend the rest of my life."

Meanwhile I'm thinking, why is this guy going on and on to me about Britney?

He presents the catch: "M, I think I have to ask her what she thinks about starting a relationship with me. I can't in good faith continue to see you when I might be passing up this opportunity."

I asked him where that would leave us. So, what, are we done here? He says, "No no no, I just don't want you to think of this for now. We'll just go on as if nothing has changed. I'll talk to Britney this week and we can go from there."

Like I said originally, I wasn't sold on him. I didn't mention this before, but he's not much of a looker. He's a kind that looks fine at first, and you remember his face in a good light, but the more and more you see him the more feminine he looks; also, too skinny, too hairy, a little pale, and a butt chin to boot.

The more I "analyzed" it, the more I realized that mentally I was done with him, and pretty much unscathed.

We talked little the week leading up to this meeting. The "date" was set - his one-on-one serious talk with Britney would be right after his and my classes were done for the week. Britney had no clue what to expect.

While I knew they'd be meeting, I busied myself in my apartment - cruising the internet, making yummy snacks, doing nothing productive in particular, chitchatting on the phone with one of my loveliest friends...

And I hear a knock on the door.

I lower my phone chat to above a whisper. I'm not expecting anyone. The knocking persists.

"M! M!"

It's a guy's voice. I look through the peephole. It's good ole Herbert, impeccably (not) dressed in an oversized and very, very purple T-shirt. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmm. Am I supposed to drool now? And how did he get in?! You had to get past security to enter the apartment.

I decide to hang up with lovely face and open the door, frankly because I'm quite curious to hear just what butt-chin-face has to say now.

Well, what he had to say was this:

"HEY!" (imagine a little overenthusiasm here) "Want to watch a basketball game?"

Nevermind the fact that he knows watching sports, for me, is the absolute last thing on my Fun Things To Do list. I pause. "Um, what about Britney?" He's not quite making an offer I'd want to take him up on.

"Let's just forget about her. Come on, let's go watch the game!"

I stop his momentum. "Wait. Hold. Up. Now. What did Britney have to say to you?"

With an attempt at a breezy tone, he says almost boastfully, "Oh, she says she doesn't want a relationship right now. She's graduating and moving out of state in a couple months, so she's not interested right now - she said if the timing was better she would have thought about it."

I counter, "Oh, well that's nice. So what are you hoping for from me? That I'll just skip along with you, and we'll go on our merry way, and just forget all of this happened?"

"I have news for you, brother. I wasn't here sitting, waiting around for you. I am busy. I made plans. I expected you'd be with Britney around this time, so sorry. Talk to you later."

He was surprised to hear this. He hadn't thought of the consequences - that in going to pursue this new lady, he'd lose the one he was trying to have to begin with. He'd thought he'd have a prize either way.

Um, nope.

He left with his head hanging and Britney gave me a ring only a few minutes later.

"M, what was that all about?! I thought he was coming to me to talk about you... I'm just mad that he had the nerve to go behind your back like that, and do that to you, and that he thought I would be such a poor friend to go behind your back and date the guy you've been dating. I definitely told him I wasn't into the idea, partially because I am moving. But even so, I was totally not interested or into him at all."

I just laughed. It made my day. I told her I was never sure about him either but that he'd been talking marriage with me just a week or two prior. After dating for less than a month and a half.

We laughed about how he thought he was even attractive enough to pull this scheme off. He wasn't.

He kept calling me, and of all things, to beg me to go to the zoo with him and his roommate. Just to be a bitch, I told him I despised zoos - that they smell bad and are cruel to animals - and so no way in hell did I want to go to the zoo. He then resorted to further groveling. I kid you not, this came out of his mouth: "Just tell me I have some value! I need to know that I was at least valued in this relationship! And respected! Tell me I have some value!"

I told him I wouldn't do it. I told him he'd have to bargain with God to assure him of any type of value. The fact was, I didn't, and don't, respect him anymore.

He literally cried over the phone at this point. I am stone cold serious.

Oh, boys. What are they ever thinking?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Offensive much?

Monday through Friday, most of us don't have much say in what we do.  We report to work and do what our supervisors or clients tell us. 

The weekend, however, is a different story.  It is a chance to break free of the monotony!

If I decide to go to a bar on a Friday night, I will choose my company, and no one will be graced with my attention if I don't want to pay it out.  

Imagine with me the following situation:

You're a female.  You're sitting with a female friend in a classy restaurant/bar - not a dive - at the counter.  She goes outside to make a call.  Your bartender buddy (a male) is busy.  You're in a part of town where there are no attractive males sitting down the bar from you.

What to do?

Pull out the phone, of course!  Now's the time to surf the web, see what's going on with your favorite blogs, check your Facebook messages, etc.

So this is precisely what I chose to do when my friend went outside.  I hear the guy to my right slowly shift his weight and turn towards me.  He is a short, round, older man.  In a gruff but wavering voice, like he's trying hard (but failing) to be macho and suave, he inquires:
"Hey, how's it going?"
"Fine, thanks."
I respond shortly and continue typing, but more furiously this time.  I pretend I am writing the world's most important work memo.  Maybe a Very Important Text, perhaps.  One of those, but I make it clear that I cannot be delayed, I cannot be bothered.

He disrupts again,
"So, how are you tonight?" 
I responded almost as a challenge, using the most irritated voice I can muster.  It wasn't difficult.  I finish up what is actually a Facebook message as my friend comes back inside.  Saved.  We get back to talking.  As we do, I study Bartender Buddy's interactions with Roly Poly "Gentleman" (you'll understand the quotes soon) closely.  Bartender Buddy seems to not want to engage with this particular customer, makes himself distant despite the efforts of the "Gentleman" to be familiar.  Bartender doesn't seem to like him.

An hour goes by, or so.  Conversation is flowing, but I hear a man's voice mumble under his breath behind me.  
"Hey, you stupid c---s.  Hey, you stupid c---s.  Why don't you get back on your iPhone?  Get back on your iPhone!!"

I chose to ignore it.  My female friend stops our conversation a few moments later.
"Hey girl, you might want to turn around.  Looks like someone wants a little attention behind you...  Seems like someone's woven up a little tight, ready to pounce or something."
I turn to my right.  I catch the "Gentleman" as he turns as well, to sit facing forward again.  At this point, I have some tequila in me and I'm not afraid to set anyone straight.

I tell him I'm not stupid, and that I heard him.  That his choice of words is completely inappropriate and unacceptable.  I told him I was trying to have a conversation with the friend that I came with, so that I was sorry I didn't get to pay STAT attention to his mumbling, but that I'm sure it was directed at my friend and I.  I told him I sure hope it wasn't directed to the female bartender who was taking great care of him.  I told him none of us deserve that.  That I was out on a Friday night to have a good time and do as I pleased and mind my own business.  I choose the people I come with, the people I talk with, and will not spend my free time talking with anyone if I don't care to do so.  That I have free will, and I will damn well play on my phone if I feel like it.  

I was proud of my little speech.  I was happy with myself for speaking up.  I think it was the right thing to do - to let this guy know it is UNacceptable to call a woman the c- word if she refuses to flirt with you.  Damn dude, offer to buy me a drink at least and then maybe we'll talk.  But if I'm buying my own alcohol, don't you dare think for a second that I will be flirting with your lame ass self for free.  Last time I checked, "Hey," isn't a pick-up line.  Guys get rejected every day.  Suck it up and move on.

And by the way, dude, catch up with technology.  It's a Motorola, not an iPhone.  Obviously he's too old to be trying to pick me up.

Instead of holding on to the good feelings I had post-speech, both bartenders quickly dismissed my complaint about this man.  They hadn't heard his advances or his threats, just my public tell-off him - which I must say was given in an calm, even, and logical tone.  The male bartender told me this guy was basically a VIP at the bar - comes in every weekend, is a big spender, has always been nice, and has never caused a problem before.  They didn't want to create a scene because the owner was in the restaurant that night and he knew this was a good customer.

I told them I had been drinking, but I wasn't drunk.  That I would swear by my same words tomorrow and the next day, stone-cold sober.  Honestly, leaving that night, I was more stirred up by the fact they dismissed my concerns than by the older man's crude name-calling.  I told them, good customer or not, it is not right for a man in any setting to say those words to a woman, and that it upset me.  

The male bartender took Not-So-Gentleman outside and told him he would just drop it and they'd forget about the whole thing - just trying to save face for him so he'd keep coming back.  

I thought that was a cop-out.  I felt like no one believed me - that I had made up the story.  The friend I was with even said she didn't hear those muttered c- words.  I wanted to see that guy kicked out, told that the police would be up his buttcrack if he ever set one toenail in the plaza again.  Guess I'm not VIP enough for that.  (Yet, my friends.  Yet.) 

Several days later, I'm still downright pissed thinking about it all, which brings me here to write off some steam.

I think it just made me brew some more, actually.

I'm not sure I'll go back to that place.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Meet my predicament.

I've never done this before.

Well, except one other time… I've never done this before.

I'm so good at first dates. I'm high energy, I have lots of things to say, I have a mental closet of slam-dunk first date outfits to choose from. I can tell he's liking it all. I know he's into the fact I'm so attentive and so awesome myself, all at the same time.

I usually leave from such events with complete certainty about how it will go from here - he's going to text me again and again, it's going to be a mutual fade-out from both parties, etc.

Fast forward to the feeling after date six. Our track record seems to indicate that Paolo and I have made it this far - awkward moments and sexy moments and fun moments and all of that - that we will keep going. We've done the initial evaluations and no red flags have impeded our journey from continuing. It makes me very scared I'm as sold on him as I am. Rarely do I feel this way. It's what I've been waiting for.

But after the past several dates with him, I leave with uncertainty about whether or not all of this is going to continue. Can I be enough for him?

I date a lot. It makes great stories for my friends, and I owe dating a big thank you because I've gotten to see so much of our huge city this way. But. I've barely been in relationships. I owe dating a smack across the face as well, because it has contributed to the idea that it's okay to go on dates all the time and not commit anyone to the boyfriend role.

With Paolo, he's such a great catch that I have this anxious feeling that every time I say goodbye to him, it will be the last time I see him. That he'll just do the standard boy "I'm out" thing without bothering to fill me in. He's already let slip once, "Well, after I broke up with her - uh, I mean, after we broke up -" which gave me a hint that he could have a history of being a heartbreaker. To be fair, though, he's already given me evidence that would lead me to believe the contrary - that he wouldn't leave me high and dry and fade away without verbal indication he's doing so. He takes me on real dates. He's always well-dressed. He's classy. And damn sexy.

It sickens me that I have this need for constant affirmation from him. It's not my personality to attention-seek, to fish for compliments, to continually but indirectly ask someone, "Do you still like me?"

"How about now?"

But he brings it out in me. When I'm with him, it's no problem - he makes his likings clear and piles on the compliments. It stupefies me really - I don't even know what to say back when he says such nice things. (i.e., he says, "You're so sexy." I say, "So are youuuu." He protests, "That doesn't mean anything. You're just repeating what I'm staying!" I whine, "Well it's trueeee.") When we're apart, I start overanalyzing, as girls do, picking apart every step and move and phrase spoken. We're attempting to have pillow talk. I'm humbled by my moments of temporary stupidity:
"What's a secret about you?" 
"Um… Hmmm… Er, I can't think of anything good."
[Except that I am obsessed with the show The Bachelor. But that's not a good one, really, just embarrassing.]

On the phone:

"So how have you been this past week? What have you been up to?" 
"Uh, good. Guess I'm good. Nothing new. Just working."
[What a conversationalist I am, huh?  Yessir!  I couldn't think of a single interesting tidbit to share. Maybe because I spend entirely too much of my free time pondering his dreamy cheekbones.]
"What about you?" 
"Well, pretty last-minute actually, work gave me this next week off because I've been putting in these extra hours. I booked some spur-of-the-moment tickets and I'm on my way to the airport right now, heading to [the first destination of what will be a worldly tour of Europe (a sibling is over there)]."
Wow. I am really an exciting creature now. What I've really been doing for the past week, handsomeface? Sitting on my computer for hours on end reading blogs. Also: being antisocial and not going on dates with any other people because I'm already sold on you, babe.

My conclusion thus far is that I've lost myself while I've known him. I can't remember how I behaved before. I have trouble recalling my characteristic stories.  I can't mentally resurrect all the silly little things about me I usually use to entertain my dates.

Thankfully, he's been doing a lot of traveling lately, so all the crazy talk and analysis and self-doubt have been inside my head. He hasn't seen my dirty laundry. I have the social filter to keep it that way. I think being apart, the minimalist contact, and not being graced with his rapt attention in the midst of his travels has been making me crazy.

It should be perking up my ego that this gorgeous wonderful manly person is interested enough in me to have brought me this far. Instead, I just keep worrying about when he's going to drop me. I'm afraid to open up for fear that he won't like me in my entirety. I'm also afraid that being so secretive will just shut him out and make him think there's not much to me.

Maybe if I had bigger boobs I'd feel more secure?

Forgetting a key phrase

Patchy Beard gets up to go to the bathroom.  It's our third date.

"Oh, no prob!"  I proclaim.  "I just have some texts to send to my friend!  I have some things to tell her!"

Mandie, OMG this date is going GREAT!  WOOO I'M DRAAAAUNK 
Hey hun, that's so good to hear.  Be safe though, and don't forget the condom, ok? 
Ahahaha you're so funny!!!!!  U love you!

What I meant was, I love you. 

I had gone through five beers at our first locale and part of an agave margarita at the next.  (I was too naive to think about that little "Liquor before beer, you're in the clear" phrase, and clearly did not follow these instructions.)  By this point in the date, I had no idea what was going on.  I had no idea what we talked about at the dinner table or how long we were there.  He steadied me when it was time to walk out the door.  He grabbed my hand.  I do remember thinking it was cute.  When I moved to get into the car, I said, "Uh oh." And vomited down the runner of the open door. He told me we'd drive me home in my car to sober me up a bit.
"Uh ohhh.  I'm not feeling so good." 
"Should I pull over?" 
"Um, you'd better."
I opened the door just in time to free all the beer, the tequila, tacos, chips, and salsa from my GI tract onto the roadside. Who knows how many times I threw up in my own car on the way to my place.  I just know it wasn't attractive. 

We park in my apartment's garage.  We go inside and he tells me I'd better brush my teeth so he can kiss me.  After he leaves, I go to sleep for a couple hours.  I have a trip to leave for at five in the morning.  I'm still drunk when I wake up at four to pack.  Of course I hadn't started yet. 

I'm sitting waiting for my train.  I scroll through my phone, mostly to analyze Patchy Beard's last textual exchanges.  I see some texts from last night sent to my friend Mandie.  Immediately I text PB to ask if he used my phone last night while I was in the bathroom.  I don't remember sending any of this.  I used words and grammar patterns outside my custom style.  Such as:
I never use that word.  I detest that word, in fact.  I don't drunk text or drunk call.  What scared me was that I had no recollection of typing the messages or using that wording. 

PB texts back.  He didn't touch my phone, and needless to say, that was our last date ever.

What, vomit isn't a turn on?

Disclaimer:  I look at pictures of him now and my feelings about his attractiveness have totally changed.  He looks like he is balding and his Patchy Beard is even patchier.  It's just gross.  This is a year-and-a-half old story.  Now I am older and more mature.  My type has evolved into the baby faced, clean-shaven look.  Literally, looking back:  no loss felt here!