Some people have no sense of boundaries. A creepy dude, who started out with a “Oh, you’re a writer, what are you writing?” conversation last spring started to stalk me, and would periodically corner me at a place that used to be my favorite hangout and show me the portraits he made from the photos of me that float around the internet.
Do you know how personal it is for someone to draw your portrait? Enhance certain features? Fictionalize it?
It wasn’t just all the fan art. With him getting handsy and making all kinds of pseudo-sensual remarks, I started avoiding the place. My visits to my local Starbucks became furtive and strictly functional. I wrote a book under the influence of somebody else’s coffee, unafraid that I’d have to fight away a nosy and all-too-personal octogenarian. Few months have passed, and as I ran in and out with a cappuccino or a pound of rough grind, he seemed to have disappeared.
I relaxed. Why, he might’ve even died!
Guilty in my relief, I ordered a well-deserved drink today, figuring I’ll catch up on my social media using my phone. And I was going to sit down, dammit, just like before the time when the creepy old dude started showing up.
And then I saw him, very much alive, sitting like a bird on a wire in the middle of a row of men with their books and tablets and newspapers. I cut the other way, settling on the other side of the door. There’s a little nook and I was out of sight, and there was a chance he hadn’t seen me. I considered leaving, but I wasn’t going to be pushed out of my space again.
Five minutes passed. Nothing happened. Just coffee and FaceBook and e-mail.
A familiar and unwelcome shape appeared, a lewd smile on his age-lined face and pushy body language to match. “Well hello, Kate!” He set his cup down on my table without invitation.
My guts turned to ice as my early conditioning fought with current reality. An old man. Probably harmless – yet terribly creepy. And he was about to sit down, and if he did that, I’d get up and leave – except I was done running.
“You’re not welcome.” The words fought their way out my throat, flat and cold and uncompromising.
An effective statement of fact.
He huffed, turned, and left. He didn’t even look terribly surprised. I felt almost guilty – almost, but not quite. Had he been thirty, forty years younger, I’d probably have pegged him for a predator. Being old doesn’t mean being nice.
Good bye, creepy old man.