Fringe Diary #8A


[“Wow I really like Josie’s blog, especially all of the feelings in it. Really great” – You]

Okay this is a public service announcement:
Women never want to be spoken to by a strange man on the street. Ever ever ever. Even if you’re dazzlingly handsome, it is annoying and scary and confusing and makes us feel bad.

This morning, I was walking back from the shops with two big grocery bags, listening to Las Culturistas (which is very good) on my two very big headphones, in the drizzle. This guy in I’d guess late 30s, early 40s, and not handsome, runs in front of me, and cuts me off. I’m wondering if maybe something has dropped out of my shopping bag or something because I was just deep into the podcast, so I adjust my headphones.

HIM: Hi, hey. I wanted to tell you that you look like a giraffe with your long legs. 

Ah, okay, so, you know. What?

ME: Um, thanks?

Well, I guess he’s told me now. Goodbye, strange man! 

HIM: You have a bit of a Central European look about you. I was just in Poland, you look Polish or Hungarian but you sound completely Scottish.

I am none of those things.

ME: I am none of those things.

By this stage I know I am in too deep, I’ve engaged in conversation and I need to get away. This guy seems okay but I do not know why he wants to talk to me, why he feels he can come up and talk to me, I’m assuming it’s a sexual thing but he’s talking about stuff that isn’t sexual. I’m just assessing the risks, assessing the risks, assessing the risks.

HIM: So if you’re not Scottish I imagine you’re a student here at the university?

Well, too bad, I’m not based here. Not worth pursuing, mate.

ME: No I’m – I’m here for a couple of weeks for the festival.

HIM: Oh for the festival! Are you travelling alone, or are you here with friends?

Aha. I’ve got another card up my sleeve.

ME: No, I’m here with my boyfriend. We’re both comics – we’re performing.

This is such a bittersweet defence because it works, but it’s because what you’re saying is “no no no, it’s not that you should respect my boundaries – it’s some other man you’d be pissing off! Don’t worry, I’m still not really a person with my own thoughts and feelings!!!!!!!!!”

HIM: Oh you’re both comics! Right, right. Well I thought I’d come up to you because you looked interesting, with your green skirt and your leather jacket, and you know, you’ve got to take a chance and you are interesting.

ME: I’m sorry I’ve got to go – I’ve got to write before the show, sorry.  

HIM: No of course, I’ve got to go meet some friends. But listen you do seem really interesting so I’d love to take you out for a glass of wine sometime.

Should I just scream that I don’t drink? No, maybe it’s not the wine that’s the thing.

ME: Oh, thank you, I’m really sorry but I’m really busy with shows and my boyfriend, I can’t. 

HIM: How about I’ll just text you once, and you can reply or not. How about that?

That sounds reasonable? Is that reasonable? He just wants to text me, and loads of people have my number. Does it sound silly to say “no, I’m never going to hang out with you, EVER?”

A few years ago I’d probably have just been like “uh sure, fine” because it’s so easy for someone to make it seem like a reasonable request. He just wants a chat! He just thinks I look interesting!

But it’s not like I was going around on a flippin’ unicycle yelling “FASCINATING AUTOBIOGRAPHY, RIGHT HERE!” I was walking along with shopping bags and his first comment was on my legs. My legs! My legs don’t even drink wine.

ME: I’m really sorry, no. 

You’re not sorry, why did you say you’re sorry? Ugh.

The thing is, his perspective on the thing was probably “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. And like – he got to talk to me, for something like three or four minutes, even if I was just trying to figure out an escape route. So he got to get some of my attention, but why did he think that was okay? Why did I act like it was okay for him to just come up to someone who clearly is busy with whatever they’re doing, carrying stuff, listening to something, just to ask to hang out with me and then try and guilt me into giving him my number?

No, nobody hurt me or screamed at me or assaulted me, but it made me feel weird and bad afterwards because I was very uncomfortable and the man didn’t seem to notice or mind that I was uncomfortable and clearly didn’t seem to respect that I might have more going on than wanting to talk to him, and undermined my “no” to a drink with him by asking to text me. Yuckkk.

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