so that happened · Uncategorized

An Impotent Rant About Impotence

low-sugar-foods-supermarket

It happened again, mis amigos!

To fully set the scene, I must first explain certain truths about myself, like the fact that grocery stores relax me. I know, but they do. They are my zen garden. They are my mountaintop sanctuary. I can’t explain it, but walking up and down aisles of consumer goods just speaks to my soul. I don’t necessarily have to buy anything, it’s just the actual act of browsing that makes me feel a deep and abiding sense of calm. Roaming Target at 11pm with no shopping list in mind is my idea of bliss.

Also, I love automatic sliding doors and those little metal barriers that spring open as you approach; I always put my hand out, wave it to the side, and pretend I’m a Jedi.

Try it! I promise it will brighten your day considerably.

Anyway. I’m in the grocery store and I’m strolling aimlessly up and down the aisles. I have my earphones in because I’ve been listening to a podcast*, and I am idly contemplating a packet of crisps when a large guy comes over and starts talking to me. At first I don’t hear him, so he gets right in my face. I pull out an earbud and he says:

“Hi, how are you?”

What an opener. Ladies and gentlemen, witness this masterclass in charm.

“Good, thanks,” I reply politely with a smile, and then put the earbud back in my ear and step past him. He follows me and gets in my face again. I stop and pulled the earbud back out, feeling a tingle of irritation.

“Are you looking for something or just browsing? You look like you’re just window shopping. Are you window shopping?”

I blink.

“Yeah, pretty much.” I put the earbud in my ear and step around him again.

Now, I know I haven’t stuck my hand out and primly stated, “KINDLY LEAVE ME ALONE, GOOD SIR. YOU ARE INTERFERING WITH MY SUPERMARKET MEDITATION” but to be honest, I don’t feel like I should have to resort to that in order to be left alone. If I were to pull the other earbud from my ear and smile gormlessly into his face, twirling a lock of hair around my finger, then he would have reason to persist. That’s not what’s happening though. None of my body language is inviting even the slightest prolonging of the moment. I am actively trying to escape the situation. I don’t think my feelings on this can possibly be misconstrued.

AND YET.

Instead of taking the hint, he turns and falls into step with me. I can hear him talking still but at this point I’ve tuned him out and am actually annoyed because 1.) I’ve given absolutely no indication of being interested, 2.) he’s ruining my mountaintop sanctuary experience and 3.) he’s really large and persistent, which makes me feel threatened. I hate feeling threatened; whether the threat is real or not. I feel vulnerable, and I hate feeling vulnerable, so then I feel annoyed that someone has put me in the position of feeling vulnerable, which just makes me feel angry….

It’s a complex tangle of emotions.

wp-image-142403882jpg.jpg
Here is my artistic representation of this moment

I take a breath and imagine for a moment that I am a porcupine. I imagine that I am covered in spikes and every quill on my body is ready to impale him if he gets too close. Then I exhale deeply and ruefully accept that sadly, I am not a porcupine, and even more sadly, I have no quills. Instead I am a small, soft, squidgy human, and I cut my fingernails quite short, so I don’t even have acrylic-talon weapons of death** at my disposal. I decide my best plan of action is to pretend I can’t hear him over the sound of my non-existent music, and just leave the shop. Which I do.

It’s a shitty feeling. If you’ve never felt so intimidated you’ve needed to leave a public space, you might not understand this. All I can say is that it feels really rubbish to change your plans because someone makes you so uncomfortable you don’t feel you can stay. It feels like weakness, and I guess it is weakness, but I’m polite and I’m also half the size of this man who thinks he can wear me down with inane conversation, so I retreat like the coward that I am. I walk down the street and turn the corner. I walk down another street, go into a shopping centre, take the escalators up to the first floor, and wander into another shop.

And this [unutterable word]…. he follows me.

I realise I might be particularly sensitive thanks to past experience, but this guy appears in front of me like a recurring hallucination from a bad trip and says, “Hey beautiful, we meet again!” as if it’s just a total coincidence and well fancy meeting you again so soon and he is looming over me grinning and I want to punch him in the face with my tiny fist because seriously, screw this guy and his dogged determination to ruin my day.

I don’t, obviously. Partly because that would be an overreaction, partly because I’m polite, and partly because I’m afraid that he would punch me right back with his fist the size of my face and I’d end up embedded in the tiled floor.

I know there are people thinking, ‘He probably just wanted to talk to you,’ and I agree. You are right. That is probably what he wanted to do. Maybe he thought I was shy, and I just needed the right amount of persistent conversation in order to bloom like a delicate flower. Maybe he thought he was being brave, walking up to me in the supermarket and striking up a conversation out of the blue. That is pretty ballsy, after all, and I don’t really have a problem with that. Take your chances chatting up the girl buying groceries. Go hard! Maybe she’s only strolling the shop floor because she’s waiting for a guy to sweep her off her feet next to the cereal. Maybe your eyes will meet over that box of Rice Krispies and love will blossom on aisle five. Who knows? Life is short, take a risk.

However, I do have a problem with the fact that once it’s clear I’m not interested in a conversation, he doesn’t just… let it go. He sidesteps my sidestep. He actively ignores any and all signs of discomfort on my part because his desire to talk to me is apparently more important than my desire to walk around without feeling hunted.

That’s how I feel in that moment. I feel like a wide-eyed, frightened rabbit. I let my eyes glaze and slide right over him, and then I turn and walk in the other direction as if I haven’t seen or heard him. I wonder whether he will keep following me around the shop. I wonder if he will follow me home. I keep moving through the aisles without actually looking at anything on the shelves, keeping an eye on him out of my peripheral vision. Then the heavens open up outside and it starts bucketing down.

I take my chance and, while other people huddle inside the door fiddling with hoods and umbrellas, I walk straight out into the downpour and keep putting one foot in front of the other until I reach my apartment complex. As the gate swings shut behind me, I feel like I’ve reached the safety zone in a kiddie game of tag.

Once I get inside my apartment, I am so angry I am shaking. I am angry with him, because he ruined my day and made me feel small and weak. I am angry with myself for being small and weak. I am angry because after listening to two episodes of a podcast about boundaries and anger, I totally and completely failed to express myself in terms of either one of them. I was too afraid of the consequences to use my words. I was too afraid of what his reaction would be if I rejected him. His total dismissal of my obvious discomfort made me far too uneasy to challenge him in any direct way, because if he can ignore my disinterest so fully, why wouldn’t he ignore my rejection?

Instead, I’d run back to my burrow like the frightened rabbit I am. All keyed up, I ranted about it on Snapchat. Now I’ve ranted about it here. Maybe next time I’ll get loud and brave the consequences. Maybe I’ll take up Krav Maga in the meantime. Or maybe…

Maybe there won’t be a next time.

That would be nice.

 

 

*It’s a comedy podcast called The Guilty Feminist and you can find episodes of it here.

**I always wondered why people get such awkward looking nails and how they’re able to do anything with such long claws but now I’m thinking that actually they seem like a sensible choice in terms of self-defence and maybe I should invest in my own set of tiny daggers attached to my fingertips.

73 thoughts on “An Impotent Rant About Impotence

      1. That is part of the problem! Why didn’t he realise?? Why is it so hard for some men to realise how threatening acting like this is? I feel for you and sincerely hope this never happens to you again!

        1. I think it’s because they are literally never put in this position so it doesn’t even cross their minds. That’s my take on it. I mean, the alternative is that they know and don’t care, and I prefer not to believe that…!

  1. Apologies on behalf of my gender, a lot of us act in ways towards women which often demonstrates an insouciant attitude regarding how they feel . We are often told that as a society we are becoming more progressive, but this sort of problem is still endemic. Your right to go on a rant about this.

    1. I think maybe because they hardly ever feel that way, it doesn’t even cross their mind that they might be seen as frightening… So… obliviousness rather than malice. I’m wound down now, but I was so keyed up when I wrote this! So much frustration just tied up in a big knot…

  2. Woah ! That was some experience. Glad you made it through safely Quinn. There are times when you gotta do what your impulse say and I don’t think you should be ashamed being disappointed or weak. You never are, never were. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Have you ever considered foregoing the headphones, and acting as if you’re deaf? Start signing to whoever gets in your face. Maybe they’ll lose interest…

    Your artistic ability is outstanding! I would gladly read a book with your illustrations.

  4. The guy needs a lesson in reading body language. As you say, sure take the chance in talking to someone, but if they show obvious disinterest there is no need to pursue and make someone uncomfortable.

    But whilst you felt small and weak I would say don’t beat yourself up about that. The world these days is full of nutters and you don’t know how people will rract in even the most seeingly innoculous scenarios.

    The fact is you removed yourself from the situation, ok whilst screwing up your zen moment but you can seek out another zen moment. I think that is the first time I’ve “seen” you swear, so much was your anger.

    I was going to paste an image of an empty supermarket aisle so you can try to create the zen moment again, but wondered at the last moment if that would be seen as mocking… it would not have been intended that way of course, but I decided not to, just in case.

    Have a better weekend Quinn

    1. Thanks, I don’t usually curse but I wrote this as soon as I got home and I was so…. so keyed up. So angry that I’d been herded home when if anyone should have left it should have been him. I shouldn’t have had to abandon my plans for the day. Now that it’s off my chest I’m back to being calm. Thanks again!

  5. It’s not you. It is him. And there is nothing wrong with removing yourself from a situation that makes you uncomfortable. It is a shame that morons like him mean you have to do it though.

    1. Thanks. It felt rubbish to have to abandon everything just because of one persistent moron but I suppose these things happen..

  6. Bummer. He ruined the nice day you had going for you. And the sad part is, he’s clueless, has no idea what his insensitivity did to crap on your day. He’s probably doing it again right now.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised… I think some people need awareness classes or something. Awareness workshops for the chronically oblivious?

  7. I love how you love wandering the aisles of a grocery store.
    I do that too, but the pharmaceutical section.
    Sounds like he was a bit loopy, nothing you said would’ve changed his behaviour.

        1. Well I would have retreated to aisle three if I hadn’t thought he might follow me there, but after following me two streets down to an entirely different shop I didn’t think switching aisles would deter him. I could have made a run for it but…

          I don’t run. I’m not even sure I can run. These tiny legs are not built for bursts of speed.

  8. Sorry that you had to experience that, Quinn. Reading a persons body language would be a wonderful online course for that person to take. I know that if I were trying to introduce myself, the first notion that she wasn’t interested in me would sufficiently crush my ego and I would walk away, not to return again. Loved your art!!

  9. Ugh the other day I had a guy, who I have never EVER seen before, walk up to me on the train and say that he’s never seen me wear (pointing) those shoes before and he really prefers me in my heeled booties but he’ll forgive me because I’m wearing the green shirt that really makes my eye pop. Cue an expression of wide-eyed horror and an immediate exit at the stop (which wasn’t even mine) that the train had just pulled into. I’m sure he thought he was giving me a compliment of sorts or being friendly but in actuality, he just admitted to visually stalking me and scared the H-E-double hockey sticks out of me.

    Men can’t really be that dumb, that tone-deaf, that socially inept… Right? How some of that can ignore all body language/facial expression cues and typical social norms and proceed as their creepy hearts desire is just mind-blowing to me and horrible for the female population. I’m sorry you had ANOTHER creeper ruin your moment.

    Also, I’m perplexed by the long talon nail trend as well and am ready for it to be over.

    1. DAFUQ.

      I would never get that train again! What the hell!? I would be walking to all destinations just to avoid that creepy man! I bet if you were to confront him he’d say he’s “just observant.” SOME PEOPLE.

  10. You’re never too old to use the Force to open automatic doors. I freaking love Target, man. It’s a shame it had to be tarnished with your encounter with Stranger McStrangerson. You don’t need to learn how to throw a guy over your shoulder or take their eyes out. I think the most important thing is just to realize how valid and justified your voice and opinion are, and that there is nothing wrong with a strong woman very clearly and plainly dictating when and where and how she might want to be interacted with by anyone. And you know, a good kick to the balls. Honestly, the former should get you out of every situation, and in any that it doesn’t, they deserve the latter. Because in a scary world, the ones who don’t take ‘no’…you nip it quick. That stranger danger story was a nightmare.

    1. I think what paralyses me in these situations is that I once watched a girl stand up for herself and get pinned to a wall by her neck for her trouble, and ever since then I’ve been extremely aware of the strength and power disparity between me and Stranger McStrangersons.

      Like, not only am I so puny I would definitely lose in a fight, but I’m very unfit so wouldn’t even be able to run away. Large men could crush me like a bug. Logically I know that MOST men would (hopefully) react well and be appalled that they were making me uncomfortable….. but what if he’s not most men??

      1. Even typing that I KNOW it sounds nuts. I mean now that I’m sitting at home next to the radiator away from any possible danger, logic dictates that a guy is not going to pin me to the wall in the middle of the day in a busy shop… But at the time logic wasn’t really taking the wheel. Logic was drowning in adrenaline once he followed me to the second store.

        Argh. Maybe it still makes no sense. I’m just trying to explain my lack of action to both you AND me, because I don’t even fully understand it. It’s frustrating.

      2. Yeah that’s shitty. I hate that this is a reality that half of the people on earth have to live with on a daily basis. You know you try to live your life as a good and decent guy, you try to make others good and decent by teaching/showing, you hope that if you get the opportunity as a parent you create good and decent guys, but you never know who it is around the corner. It’s about education and prevention. And for you, maybe some self-defense too. Just sucks that has to be so.

      3. Hey I completely sympathise with you. And I am glad that I am not the only one who fears violent reactions from the opposite sex. They are sometimes just so scary. Confronting seems like the right thing to do but is it really? I mean what if that creep follows me? What if he tries to harm me? Oh the questions are endless and without any answers… But anyways great article.

  11. So sorry about your experience. This dude seems like a real prick! He should be in a lounge with his shirt buttoned down to his navel, with a big gold chain, and spandex pants. Oh, and a 70’s porn mustache. This is he visual I have of him. Don’t play around with people like this. If they make you nervous and are persistent, just tell them so and that you are going to get security if he doesn’t leave you alone. Nice people get hurt worrying too much about a jerk’s feelings.

    1. Thanks Michael – that’s a very vivid mental image you conjured up! It’s hard to find the balance between being considerate of someone else’s feelings and sticking up for yourself! I always fall on the being considerate side just in case….

      1. Fall on the other side when your safety is a concern. But, you know this. Beyond that, don’t beat yourself up for being sweet. โ˜บ๏ธ

  12. Poor you. Look at the bright side you have the sense to remove yourself from the situation – even if it’s totally the idiot who should’ve removed himself. What’s wrong with people?

    On a completely different note how can you find supermarkets relaxing. You worry me slightly! ๐Ÿ˜œ

    1. I love them. I LOVE them. You should see my excitement levels when I get near a giant 24hr Target in America at 1am when there’s nobody else around. I have to almost be dragged out an hour later. There’s just something about walking around and looking at everything that makes me happy. Last October when we went to San Diego, we went to Target almost every second night so I could get my fix.

      I can’t explain it. I know it’s weird. It just works for me; it’s like breathing into a brown paper bag, only instead I’m breathing in the air conditioning from a giant superstore.

      1. It sounds like a good thing that you get your fix. Calmness is important, sounds like what I get out of books. Any book. However horrendous a mood I’m in, even if I’m crying my eyes out – a book will calm me down.

        1. I do also love a good book. Something that lets me fully sink into the pages and inhabit another world for a while. That’s ideal!

    1. There was, but I fell into the stupid girl trap of thinking if I ran to security I’d be “that bitch” making a big deal out of nothing. At the time, Lauren^ suggested it to me on Twitter, but I didn’t want to make a scene and I didn’t want to make him feel like a criminal and yeah all of it is stupid. It was stupid. I should have just done that, but the whole thing just made me so uncomfortable… Because I’m a weenie. Argh.

  13. Wow. I love your posts, there’s so much detail I feel as if I’m there. I nominated you in the One Lovely Blogger Award. Rules are on my page. Can’t wait for your next post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Quinn, Quinn, QUINN! Why didn’t you use your incredible Jedi-Force-is-with-You and catapult him over 2-3 Target aisles, specifically into a hardware aisle or baby-infant-toddler aisle!? ๐Ÿ˜‰ There are a particular segment of the hetero male Neanderthals that do not understand subtle, implicit hints or body language — all they know is brute force or very blunt language. LOL

    Hmmm, on the escalator I would be looking for security! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ If I may Quinn, since you have this ‘stalker’ issue while out in public (no surprise there), you should really come up with one or two FIRM “Please leave me alone or I will pull out my mace-spray and taser. Thank you.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    As I’ve mentioned before…being as stunning as you are Quinn I honestly feel you need to nurture that Jedi-force with at least firm language to these particular Neanderthals.

    May the force be MORE with you! <3

    1. Prof, mace-spray and tasers are illegal here so I’m not sure that would work! I’m really not that stunning I think they just see me as an easy target.

      Maybe I can carry a vuvuzuela and just blast it in their face next time. Or develop my Jedi powers a bit more… Thanks!

      1. Hyper-testosterone is a greatly understated misunderstood powerful hormone, yes? :/

        Ahhh, I didn’t know those simple anti-Neanderthal tools were illegal there. HAH! As you might guess, there’s a wild amount of ‘freedom‘ here in Texas to carry just about anything you want — even our psychiatric patients! Hah! — concealed or not. I know many women here that carry those items (legally) because this state is indeed a part of the 1800’s wild west. LOL ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Hahahaha… a “vuvuzuela”! That could work there, but here you’d probably just make the stalker pull out his banjo or knee-slappin’ spoons and he’ll expect you to dance with him. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        On a serious note though, please do be safe and come up with some refined counter-annoyance maneuver that gives you results. <3

  15. Obviously feel slightly awkward being a bloke and reading that, although in fairness it took me a good six months from meeting my now-wife to actually asking her out on a date, and that after she dropped some extremely unsubtle hints that she probably wouldn’t laugh in my face, so I can’t really relate to your weird stalker person – we aren’t all like that, but there’s enough idiots out there that it’s maybe safer to assume we are all like that, which is a pretty sad state of affairs.
    On another note though, I totally do the Jedi thing with automatic doors and wandering around supermarkets and other large shops is absolutely relaxing.

    1. I didn’t mean to imply all guys are like that… #NotAllMen just that there are a few out there and it’s a gamble what kind of man you’re dealing with. When you’re on the back foot already thanks to your size it can often feel safer to just assume.

      Of course of you’ve never followed a girl around town without her invitation you’re already streets ahead of this guy!

      I’m glad you agree about large shops. THERE ARE LITERALLY DOZENS OF US!

      1. Absolutely, it’s better to be safe than sorry and even if he didn’t mean any harm he was totally still an idiot.
        But if you ever see me wandering around a large shop you know I’m just there for the tranquillity of the commercial experience. I’m quite pleased there’s so many of us – we should form some sort of club! We could have little symbols that we all wear that only we would know about and then if we saw anyone wearing one we’d know there was a kindred spirit in our midst. Obviously we couldn’t talk to them, that would defeat the object of the whole thing but we could smile at them and they could smile at us and we could go back to our own little world, just browsing but never buying…

  16. Hey there Quinn! I found your blog today, and Iโ€™m nominating you for Thatโ€™s So Jacobโ€™s March Blog Madness! Itโ€™s simple: find five interesting blogs today, copy and paste this comment, and give them a follow! Have a great day and if youโ€™re so inclined, kindly come visit me over at http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com. Have fun spreading the blog love this month!

  17. Wow, this is totally unacceptable behaviour! Whether he just wanted to talk to you or not, people should be way more aware of others body language and realise when they are invading people’s space. This sort of thing happens too often to me as well and I always end up feeling guilty if I’m not 100% polite to people, but really, they should be more self aware! Thanks for sharing, it’s a great post. I hope writing it helped you get it off your chest x

  18. What an absolute douche!!!! I bet he thought you were playing hard to get, I’ve never understood that saying, who actually plays hard to get? Either you are interested or not? Clearly you were not!

    I feel like being a small female has a huge impact on a situation like this, I know my height makes me feel vulnerable especially when the scary, crazy person is tall and I feel like our stature makes us more inviting for scary, creepy people to talk to us or even touch us. People pat me on the head a lot and I really want to punch them in the face but instead I smile and shrug it off?!? Why?! Why do I always smile!!?
    I’m beginning to fear for your safety and think you should hire a bodyguard, not joking!

    However, supermarket aisles zen,really…they give me anxiety haha! I agree with the talons though how do you do anything with them on?

    Also, automatic doors are my nemesis the have them at my work and the sensor is too high (average person height) so I have to jump to make them open…not very Jedi like haha!

    In all seriousness though please be careful when out on your own, I hope this doesn’t happen again!!!

  19. This immediately brought to mind the other creeper episode you wrote about. This type of behavior baffles me and makes my blood boil and my fists clinch up even across the Atlantic and a few days late..

    On a more heart-to-heart note, the sense of having the enjoyment of a ‘private’ public space robbed from you is something I can very much relate to. Whether by beef or unwanted advances or misunderstandings, big cities can start to feel extremely small when strangers, acquaintances, friends, and frenemies all conspire to start making it feel as if the walls are closing in. It sucks, and I don’t have any great answers about taking the power back. I do know that us thoughtful and self-aware types are perhaps more prone to these feelings and situations than others.. a small price to pay for our brilliance and creativity!

  20. Omg. I’m sorry you had to go through that Quinn! I felt uncomfortable reading this, so I can only imagine how you felt.

    I hate people, specifically aggressive men…If they are large on top of their overbearing confidence – nope๐Ÿ˜ก. He clearly was never taught boundaries and I’m glad you are safe and made it home. Be proud you didn’t use your little fists of fury because he obviously would be the one embedded into the tile!! Petite gals rejoice!! Hear us roar!!!

    But seriously, so glad you are safe and that you were very aware of your surroundings. What a creep ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก

    Now I’m thinking about nail daggers myself. Sending hugs โค๏ธ

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