The other night I had an experience that was unsettling and for the first time I felt vulnerable living on my own. As you know, the majority of the men in my town are gay, so the chances of being hit on are pretty slim. Just the way I like it. I don’t enjoy flirting and have never learned how to have fun with it. When I’m out with my friends I prefer good conversation in a safe environment where we are completely at ease.
That is what we were doing at dinner the other night at our usual spot. If you’ve been following me, you know that we frequent the only two restaurants in town often and it’s like Cheers, where everyone knows your name. I can walk across the street to both of them and feel safe walking home in the dark
When a phone number was awkwardly pushed in to my hand by an out of town visitor, my wall went up. There had been no flirtation or connection and this person was seated far from me at the bar. I let my friend know what just happened and in her response matched my feelings, “ick.” Unfortunately, it didn’t end there because he later moved over to the seat next to me when the non-gay GENTLEMAN who knew how to behave, left. I wanted to leave, but there was no way I was going to walk home alone. He was on to another drink and the effects of the alcohol were evident. A drinking cop is not a good combination. Especially one with a big ego. The small talk started and then he asked if I was ever going to engage in conversation with him. I pretended to be distracted with a text from my daughter. It was finally time to go and I politely said goodbye and nice to meet you. His response was an agitated laugh. My friend dropped me off so I didn’t have to walk home alone. In the short ride we both agreed he was out of line and the whole thing was creepy.
For the first time, I felt very vulnerable and exposed in my home. I live in the heart of town and it would not be hard to find me given the California plates on my car. I made sure every door was locked and all the outside lights on. This night I shut down every light in side, even the night lights. Instead of watching a movie or news before bed, I had the house silent so I could hear if any car drove up. It was a long time before I ultimately changed for bed.
I realize that anyone can read the description of the night and think I’m over reacting. It could easily be justified as harmless flirtation. The bottom line is I was made to feel uncomfortable and that is not acceptable. I resent that I suddenly felt unsafe in my home. That I had to adjust my routine. I resent that I even have to think about this and that I have to teach my daughters to be careful of these situations. To be careful of worse situations.
At a time when women’s word and credibility are the hot topic, it brought up conversation among us about men behaving badly and thinking it is okay. I look forward to the day when women do not have to worry about their safety, when we can travel freely and live on our own without worry. There has been movement in this direction, but we have a long way to go.