Saturday, 16 July 2011

I don't want to be chatted up, thanks

So yesterday, in the middle of a conversation at the pub, me and my friend were interrupted by two men in their thirties trying to chat us up. I'm sure this happens every day, although this kind of thing is quite new to me. But it was creepy. Why? Because they tried very hard not to be creepy. They talked to us about literature and history, and tried to get us to stay and play Dingbats with them. They introduced themselves, shook our hands and smiled, and talked to us as though we had known them for ages. Some of you might be thinking, isn't this a refreshing break from the way some guys behave? Why is that such a bad thing? Isn't it flattering? It was such a bad thing because although they seemed friendly, they wouldn't take no for an answer. They made us feel as though we owed them something. They made us feel like we couldn't leave.

We had decided to go at 11, and were just about to when they sat down by us. When we said we were just leaving, they made us feel guilty, as though we were leaving because of them. Every time we tried to leave, they would try to engage us in conversation again. I think my friend was much more lively than I was, because I was so uncomfortable. I was unimpressed and uninterested. They rambled on about stupid things that people in pubs talk about, like life energy and how they'd written a book.

Even when I said I had a boyfriend, they didn't give up. "What's he like?" Although I wanted to defend him, I didn't want to say anything because it was none of their business.

"He's cool!" said my friend. "Yeah, he's cool".

"Oh, but come on. Is he really that great? Are you going to give up the chance to play Dingbats in the pub with a couple of new friends? Come on, you've got to live a little".

The bald one struck up another conversation about history with my friend, to delay us leaving again. The other one asked me "So, is the sex weird or something?" I would have loved to tell him to fuck off, if I had the guts, but I was still a bit scared. Still, what really pissed me off was them asking about things like that that were none of their business. (My boyfriend made me laugh about this later when I told him what they'd said: "Oh, fuck off. I'll have sex with them and see how they like it.")

"I'm a Christian" I replied.


"I said, I'm a Christian".

"Oh. What do you mean?" (He completely didn't understand get what I was getting at.)


"I'm not spiritual or anything like that, but I do believe in a spirit that brings all robots to life." He smiled, and I was supposed to smile too, like it was the wittiest thing anybody had ever said. "And I believe in a kind of, a kind of energy, a life force," (Oh no, here we go) "that flows through everything..."

"Mm-hmm. Yup." I checked my phone and pretended to text a friend. But I still felt bad for ignoring him. I felt like I should be friendly, but we had been, we had let them know we weren't interested, but they still wouldn't go away. I'm not interested in hearing about your stupid book, or your life theories. I'm not impressed, just leave us alone. Go away. But I still felt rude. We did finally manage to leave. They shook our hands again, and wished us good luck for our graduation. We thanked them.

When we got outside, I was shivering. It wasn't cold. We discussed things a bit, and decided that although they seemed friendly, that made them more unsettling, especially because they were so pushy. Unfortunately, my friend realised she'd left her umbrella inside, so we had to go back in to get it. We didn't find it, and it was just the bald one left in the seat, who didn't recognise us for a bit. He said he hadn't seen the umbrella, and as we couldn't find it anywhere else, we left, after being wished good luck for our graduations again. I said thank you quietly and we left again. We asked at a bar, and my friend left her number in case someone found it.

The other one was outside when we left again. He asked us if we smoked.

"No, neither of us have a lighter, we don't smoke, sorry."

"So you're really not staying then?"

Cleverly, my friend ignored this and kept talking about her umbrella. "I wouldn't mind but it's my housemate's."

"Well, if you give me your number, if I find it I can let you know. Sneaky, eh?" He grinned, and we laughed awkwardly.

"Well, they have my number behind the bar if you do find it." (Later: "Why did I say that?") Awkward laughs all round. I really wanted to leave.

My friend was walking one way, and I was walking another. Whilst she was going to a friend's house, I was going back home, on my own, to an empty house. Although it was only 11, I didn't feel safe walking back on my own, in case the one outside tried to follow me. Instead, I called my boyfriend and met him in town halfway to the pub he was at.

It makes you feel powerless to feel that you have to rely on a man to feel safe, but at least I have one to rely on. Besides, what annoys me isn't having to feel reliant on my boyfriend to protect me -- I would rely on a friend in the same way -- what annoys me is the men that make it necessary for women to be protected. These men were clearly just looking to pick up ANY WOMAN, and it didn't matter who. That isn't flattering, although you might think it was flattering to be chatted up. It also didn't matter to them that we didn't want to be picked up; they just wanted to pressure us into staying with them. The worst thing about them wasn't how pushy they were, it was the way they made us feel like we owed them something. It was the way they thought that we owed them something. They clearly picked the wrong prey -- two young naive Christian students -- but they felt that they were entitled to us.

Friday, 1 July 2011