An old behavior of “it’s nice to meet you, but no, I don’t want to take this acquaintance any further” has returned to me. I met a man allegedly from a North African country while sitting in front of a local tourist attraction. He was a real talker. He tried several angles to weasel himself into my contacts list but I wasn’t having any of it. I was in no way seeking the addiction to excitement thing. I was polite but firm. I was easy but not swayable. I was accepting but distant. I felt safe within myself and my life that I have built. I have friends and don’t need more unless one should unfold naturally. I have interests and don’t need to seek more unless they unfold as part of something already in progress. I have a solid ego, companionship for activities, and people to contact me. I don’t need an additional someone to feed my ego, pull me from my studio, or take a place in my life. I have enough peeps.
I am enough. I have enough. This exchange has been enough. Now bug off!!
His behaviors that I found alarming were the following:
He was WAY too flattering. I pointed out that we were in a city of 4 million people and that he would meet another like me (friendly, outgoing, well spoken, intelligent, not hard on the eyes, educated etc.)
He was heavily discounting of nearly everything I said that was not to his liking. He discounted the 4 million people minus one. He discounted that I didn’t need or want more people in my life, and certainly not someone met at random for a short time while further in The City. He discounted my several statements of “no”, including that I actually said I wish I knew more languages so I could say no in more languages.
He tried the common enemy, mis-identification, or “I’m more like your race,” card. This was an intellectual sparing about real race issues which I was serious about, appropriate to, even understanding of a non-American’s perspective; but I clearly wasn’t interested in any African American issues beyond what I would normally encounter in daily life. I won’t be knowingly harmful myself personally and I will participate where appropriate to raise awareness on their behalf; but the Black Experience is their own responsibility, not mine as a white person. I capitalize because I do see the importance of the current movement.
He tried the spiritual tract saying my path led me there, his path led him there, of all the bustle in the city we met, blah, blah, blah. I totally laughed and stated that I would stick to the reality of my life.
Then he tried the wounded-I’ll-die-without-you tract, which I did not accept responsibility for by saying that it was too bad he would be that miserable or that fragile.
With that he was back to flattery at my strength which he admired. He went on about being a woman of “principle” etc., etc., which I accepted but reminded him that being as such, the answer was still no, and actually an even firmer one at that. I pointed out that good strong qualities often annoy other people because those people don’t get their way.
He tried the “I will embarrass you” thing. He threatened to prostrate himself on the ground in front of me and bring attention to us from the crowd. At this point, my insides began to become alarmed. I had a misogynist, a narcissist, an ignoramus, a child, or possibly a socio-path on my hands. Mind you, this was about an hour or so encounter. Ninety percent of our conversation is not being shared here. It is also nearing sunset. I was keenly aware that I needed to make a safe get-away.
To the threat of prostration is simply laughed and said that he would look really stupid, possibly sick, and that someone would call an ambulance. His face was priceless. Mastercard has nothing on me.
I quickly rose, wished him well, and walked away. I slowed to toss my coffee cup in a garbage can and there he was. He was now following me. At this point I pulled out my cell phone to fire off texts to at least two people to begin a timeline in the event that this got seriously dangerous. He arrogantly took this as a cue that we were going to exchange info on our “mobiles”. At this point was in error at remaining friendly correcting him that in the US it is a cell phone, but no, I am not giving him my number.
I had to wait at a cross walk. This time the tactic was clearly attack/victim. He expressed that I never even asked his name. That I didn’t bother to know the name of the person I was talking to. I replied that I don’t need to know the names of everyone I encounter on a daily basis. I said it is enough for me to have a nice conversation on a park bench and leave it at that, good-bye. As the light turned and the crossing figure appeared I nearly ran across the street with him still in attack mode that I didn’t ask him what he did for a living, his background or anything. Then came the victim role. He listened to me talk about myself but I didn’t want to listen to him talk about himself.
As I turned right after the cross-walk, I giant light went on. I know this guy. I know this type. Attack is never okay. I am done with ANYONE playing the victim. Ignoring him, I briskly walked about a block, then suddenly stopped and turned around. He was right behind me. In a flash I took in my surroundings of people, businesses, buses, police, and my route. Using the same momentum, I drew up big as I could, moved his direction, spoke very loudly that “YOU CANNOT FOLLOW ME!!”, and peeled off in the opposite direction.
A window reflected his astonishment as I fled. Half running down the streets I refused to turn around but I did glance at window reflections and checked my peripheral vision as I crisscrossed my way home.
I think hurt, scared, damaged people become victims of these people. I think nice, calm, understanding, and good-willed people become victims of these people. I am fortunate that this dramatic encounter ended at least so far, with a yelling at on a busy sidewalk and not years later in a messy break-up or God forbid with me a statistic of my city’s murder rate.
Nice may not be safe. Be prepared to appear rude or unfriendly.