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?