So, Chris Brecheen’s post has inspired me to relate a story that happened almost ten years ago.
Some of the women in the comments of that post related stories about how they responded to creepy men or stuck up for women who were being harassed in public. So here’s mine.
It was spring of 2004, I was in my final semester of college and I was out having a beer with two friends – a man and a woman – we’ll call them Bob and Jane. We were in one of the “nice” bars in our college town which meant that the tables and chairs were in good repair, the wood finished walls were polished, the selection of beers was excellent and IDs were actually checked. As we went up to the bar for a drink, two clearly inebriated older men approached us. They were in their mid to late 40′s and wearing suits, with their ties and shirt buttons undone.
“Hey!” One said to Jane. “You’re awfully pretty, did you know that?”
I had no idea that sometimes movie cliches appeared in real life.
Jane looked down at her shoes. They continued, asking what she was studying, if she had a boyfriend. She gave quiet, one word answers. I was fuming at how upset they were making my friend. I started thinking about everything I wanted to say to them, but I wasn’t sure how to do it without embarrassing Jane further.
“Ugh, these guys.” Bob said. “Let’s just go to our table.”
We took our drinks and sat down, trying to ignore the obnoxious men.
About ten minutes later, they sat down at the table next to us.
“Hey you!” one of them said directly to me. “I’m sorry we ignored you before for your friend.” I could write a dissertation on the absurd misogyny of that statement, but I’ll let it go for now. “You’re not so bad yourself.” I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah,” said the other one. “I mean, what are two girls like you doing with a guy like him?” he pointed to Bob.
Something snapped in my head. I was done caring about appearing to be a nice girl.
I looked right at him and said, matter-of-factly “He’s really good in bed.”
There was a beat and then the two drunk dudes looked at each other with eyebrows raised and eyes widened. These assholes thought I was being serious. They muttered an incoherent apology and I think they even nodded respectfully towards Bob, who was trying not to laugh. They left us alone for the rest of the night.
I couldn’t believe that it worked, but it did, and that was when I learned to trust my inner smartass. Joy Nash said that “the secret to turning staircase wit into regular old every day wit is practice.” So, if you feel it’s safe to do so, let go of your need to be the nice girl. Let the devil on your shoulder out when you need her.
Just as in Chris Brecheen’s story it seems that creepy dudes have no sense of humor or irony. My ridiculous and silly comeback rang true in their worldview, even though I was only trying to be obnoxious. These men are extremely insecure which is also why you may risk violence in provoking them. Use your judgment when engaging them, but know that there’s not much to these guys but swagger and inadequacy.