Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tri-Tone Perfecta

It's Christmas day and all through the house...

my phone is dinging.  With text messages from numbers I don't have in my phone.  Wtf?  The first one was from the 806 area code and basically said "merry Xmas" etc.  I just looked it up and that's in the TX, Amarillo/Lubbock area.  I know of one person in Lubbock but we've never met or talked; she's a friend of a friend.

Next I got a text from someone in the 505.  It says "cute picture".  Huh?  I figure I might know this person as I'm also in the 505, and how unlikely is it that someone in the 505 misdial my number (an 802)?  I reply "who is this?"  Answer: "Michael".

Okay, so I do know a Michael here, but I haven't specifically given him my number, nor are we phone/texting buddies, nor are we buddies at all.  We run in some similar circles and I smile at him when I see him, despite the fact that he creeps me out.  I asked "terribly sorry, which Michael?"  (I do know a few, though not from 505.)  No answer.

Oooooookay.  Then I get a picture message from 503 area code, which is Portland, OR.  Excellent as I've heard it is there, I don't think I know anyone from Portland.  I also don't recognize the red headed kid in the photo.  There is no response when I ask who it is, making me think that these are some kind of fishing attempt, creepy though that is. 

The only one I question is the 505 where I did actually get some kind of response, though it's also the creepiest cuz... what picture?  I found this site, which I think is pretty cool:  It dials the phone number you put in, doesn't say anything to the answer but records what is on the other line.  When calling the 505, I received generic phone woman saying I'd reached 505#######.  At the tone leave a... and that's where my complimentary 10 second recording cut off.

Text scams?  Likely.  To what end I'm not sure, but seriously how has humanity come to a point where bugging people on Christmas day with fake text messages is acceptable?  I want more from humanity than this.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Getting People To Give

It's holiday time, and by 'holiday' I, of course, mean "Christmas". 

Don't look at me like that!  Sure I know there are other holidays at this time of year, but America is decorated and preparing for Christmas.  Even here in the desert, shop windows are painted with accounts of snowmen in red and green scarves (that have nothing to do with chilis) abiding the arrival of the dude in red with a sleigh.  Luminaries adorn building boundaries, lights blink maniacally as if the Christmas light companies own stock in Tegretol, and every grocery/box store front you walk into has someone wringing the neck of a tiny -but very shrill- bell.

Stores are advertising sales, no actually they're selling sales, with advertisements depicting snowflakes and red ball ornaments because this is the season where we think fondly on everyone and try desperately to find something suitable to wrap and give them to indicate our fondness.  Oh man, don't get me started on the gift giving thing, I'll never stop!  But let's step back outside this store for a moment and take another look -fingers in your ears if you must- at the sentry ringing the bell.

Usually adorned with a Santa hat, warm mittens, a red kettle and surprisingly no ear plugs, we expect these people from the Salvation Army to be catching our attention in culturally sanctioned begging.  Begging isn't a new thing by any means, but perhaps it's more successful when warmly dressed representatives beg for money in the name of "others".  But these are volunteer beggars.  What of those who beg routinely for themselves?

I went out today to shop.  No, not for others.  I don't celebrate Christmas and the Christian part of my family is long since passed (sadly, yes, but I don't worry about buying presents anymore).  No, I went because I've been wanting to go shopping for days, I felt crappy, and even though I don't really need more clothing I feel better coming home with something new.

Abq has several fine thrift stores and I couldn't quite decide how I wanted to use the buses.  Take the 141 all the way to Savers and then back to Menaul for Thrift Town?  Or take Lomas down to the 5 to Thrift Town first?  Which ever way I went, it was a long trip, Sunday being the subpar day for public transit.  Rather than waiting for many of these buses to make an appearance, I walked most of the way. 

I had almost reached Carlisle and I was feeling hungry.  "This smell will be the death of me" I lamented as my mouth watered coming upon a Sonic.  I veered towards the outdoor menu as a long, gangling man with shaggy hair, a base ball cap and his pants allowing a large draft through to his nether regions flopped loudly and expressively on the metal seat of the Sonic eatery.

"Got eny change, girl?" he shouted out as I redirected my trajectory to put me back on the sidewalk.

I admit it.  I find loud noise draining.  I find surprising loud noises anxiety producing and triggering.  I find strange men making surprising loud noises scary.  The 5 wasn't arriving for another 1/2 hour, so I decided it was a good time to find out if Lotaburger is any good. 

And also, 'girl'?  I know that's what the world has a tendency to call people who look like me, but if you're going to ask me a favor you'll have better luck comparing me to a tree or a window shade than a prepubescent.

I took the 5 to Lomas.  As I waited to cross the street, two men approached from the other side of the walk.

"Hey, you got some change for us?"

They were already very close to me.  One had some sort of device held in front of him, a radio maybe with one antennae.  I hastily stepped back onto a higher part of the sidewalk as they passed murmuring "Uh, no.  Not today".

I believe in giving money to beggars.  Really.  And under usual circumstances I probably would have given change to the two men with the radio.  My propensity to give is directly and inversely tied to my fear reaction.  I doubt those who beg have much use for thinking in those terms.  Maybe you'd get better results judging how each person is most likely to give you money, but the tried and true method seems to be ask as much and as many as you can -regardless of how it affects that person- because you gotta get something.

While it's sad that some people need to beg to live (and some beg but do not need to to live), if that assessment of the method of begging is true, it could feel a wee bit creepy.  It's one of those "my need is greater than your comfort" arguments. *shudder*

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mr. Bud

As you all know, I take the bus.  It's good for exercising (walking to and from the bus stops), it's better for the environment (than taking my own car everywhere), and it's better for my anxiety levels/road rage.  It's also "better" for creepy story material.

I suppose you can guess that I was waiting for the 66.  I was.  I've had some creepy experiences on other bus lines, but those were before I started this blog.  Anyway, I got off the 140 (second creepiest line I've found so far) and went to wait at the stop for the 66.  There were two men on the blue, metal, covered bench, which is segmented into four equal ass-setting areas.  I wouldn't call them seats because they don't seem actually designed for sitting pleasure; they are purely utilitarian places to set your ass.

As men do, one was sitting on one end of the bench, the other at the other end, as far away from each other as possible.  This left me the decision about which ass area to take: the one next to the pudgy, simple-looking, baseball capped guy with the hangdog look; or the one next to the tall, lanky guy, drinking a bud ice and wearing clothing too big for him.  I looked once, then again, and made the quick decision that Hangdog felt less threatening.  He said "Hi" with an odd cadence that suggested mental simplicity, as I sat down.

Mr. Bud seemed to be trying to catch my eye.  I noticed this in my peripheral vision, but decided to keep looking straight ahead.  There's nothing that invites creepitude like acknowledging someone.  Hangdog decided to head for a different pasture soon thereafter, and I willed myself not to get up and move to that seat, further away from Mr. Bud.

A loud motorcycle zoomed past and Mr. Bud whooped into maniacal laughter that stopped as suddenly as it started, then sat, rocking back and forth muttering in such a way that I suspect he has some developmental disability or a brain injury.  I made out the words "want to tell you something" and the rest disappeared into murmurs.

He burst into the same, short lived maniacal laughter a few more times, then got up to toss his beer can in the garbage.  He made a show of stretching way up high to slam the can into the garbage but since there's a cover on these cans with a hole in them not much larger than the diameter of a beer can, it slammed into the lid and bounced onto the ground, jubilant with defiance.  Mr. Bud picked it up and slid it in this time.  I avoided commenting.

He came back around to his seat and stood in front of it, facing the bench and his strewn effects on the ground.  I chanced a glance in his direction and, with horror, found him fiddling with his belt buckle.  By fiddling I mean it looked a lot like he was trying to disengage its latching mechanism.

I had a choice here.  I could have said something quite pointed like "KEEP YOUR PANTS ON!"  Admittedly, part of me was curious if he really meant to do what it looked like.  But I took the easy way out and swiftly removed myself from the vicinity.  I quickly assessed the wall behind the stop and leaned up on it next to a very secure looking guy.  Mr. Bud came around the stop less than a minute later, his pants on, and disappeared into Walgreen's parking lot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Music of Women

Q: What's the difference between someone saying something stupid, or in a way misogynistic, and saying it while staring directly at me?
A: Creep factor.

It's a social/discussion meeting of the Albuquerque Polyamory group.  What Tenpin* had to say, after social time had begun, was about his conception of women as musical instruments and how, if he could play them just right, they make beautiful music.  He stared at me, slight grin on his face, while speaking.  This was in the context of discussing his role as a Top (or maybe Dom) and women's roles as bottoms (or maybe subs).

We all just kinda stood there.  Crickets would have been heard were it not Albuquerque where they're infrequent.  It was awkward beyond belief.  What to respond to?  The presumption that women are submissive?  His construction of himself as the Master of women and the Universe?  His objectification of women as object-like?  His conception of women as instruments for him to affect?  The fact that he's said much the same thing to me, directly referencing me, in the past (a different story, creepy, but too personal to retell here)? 

In the conversation was Tenpin himself, Monkey (my partner) and J1 -a mostly gay man.  Monkey, bless his heart, tried to think about what he would say that would rephrase that sentiment in a more acceptable way.  Finding that he just wouldn't ever say anything like that, he opted to pretend he might, but rephrased it saying that he sees a bottom as a musical instrument that, when you and that person are working together, you make beautiful music together.  Or something like that.

Thanks for jumping in, Darling.

*Since this post involves people I actually know, I'm giving everyone pseudonyms.

Friday, October 14, 2011


There's this thing about not having a vehicle in most cities.  It takes a really long time to get anywhere.  Even if the bus comes every 15 minutes (which the oft mentioned 66 does, though it's the only one to do so), you still have to walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, ride the bus and then walk to where you are going once you're off the bus, which might well be another bus.  +1 for fitness, -10 for timeliness.

So that's the way of things, and as such, sometimes I decide to get the multitude of unrelated things I need in not such excellent places.  I mean, it can take me 5 hours to stop at 3 different places!  So... I won't say it but there is a particular store that tends to have a multitude of seemingly unrelated things to buy that sometimes I now shop at, since I haven't a vehicle.  Yes, I'm ashamed.

But that's not the point!  I've been trying to mail a package all week.  The problem?  First I didn't have any packing tape, having run out of it last time I went to send a package and finding that the USPS solution to this was to sell me another whole packaging tape dispenser rather than just a roll of tape.  I wasn't impressed.  So after I managed to get packing tape, then I needed either stickers or markers to blot out the information about what that box previously held.  I've wanted stickers for a while to label my jams but also, in helping a friend move recently, my one lone sharpie got misplaced and it was bad in need of replacing.

I also needed birdseed, terrible kids paintbrushes (for mixing paints), new canning jars and a few other 'seemingly unrelated' items.  So off to the evil store I went where I found all that I was looking for (except some food items that I refused to buy non-organic).

Because of the horribleness of this store, and plausibly the fact that I'd eaten not but an apple that day, I was feeling right weak and a bit fusty.  I decided that a small bit of highly salted and processed snack food with a toxic color was called for.

Everything heaped into a bag, I slogged out of the store in search of a place to sit and consume my amazing-highway-cone-colored-poison as well as use my new stickers and sharpies to cover up the shoe adds on my package of jam.  There were no benches obvious but turning a corner of the building revealed a large shady swath of concrete where employees likely take smoke breaks and where random trash collects to get out of the wind.  Feeling too overwhelmed to be picky about what the seat of my pants touched, I sat my arse right there on the concrete, in between gum stains, and proceeded to fix up my package and consume my heart attack-in-a-bag. 

A group of teenagers had also collected in this cul-de-sac, though there was no indication if they were blown there by the wind or not.  We minded our own business, they having no use for someone as old as me and me having no use for their social gender-education play.  That is, until one of those games ended up in my face, or at least very close to my face.

My package was fixed up and I was crunching, dry-mouthed, through my snack while trying to shake the stoned sensation of being through the evil store, when a pigeon flew fast and furious towards my head!  I'm happy to announce that it missed me and my snack.  It didn't take long to put together the hee-hawing girls, a guy walking away from me, and the replay of the last few sounds I had ignored before the flight of the winged germ bird, to figure out that this boy thought it was the height of his mighty gender based power to rush at a bird suddenly and scare the crap out of it for the appreciative titterings of girl peers. 

Did I mention how I am unimpressed?  There I was, sitting on the dirty concrete, a smudged page of newspaper with a reeses peanut butter cup wrapper stuck to it trying to wind its way around my possessions, and an almost full grown human figures that he's going to show superior masculinity by his ability to scare... a pigeon. 

I doubt most people would consider what he did cruelty.  But I do believe that animals have emotions and I would say he created fear in that bird.  How is it still being passed to the younger generations that scaring and tormenting is a good and appropriate show of power?

I pondered this as the teens blew out of the corner, that boy swinging his lanyard boasting "C'mere birdie!  I gonna' lasso you!"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Not Entirely Perfect

It's around 12:30am.  I'm sitting at the bus stop waiting for the trusty 66, again, when a man walks by remarking,
"Ah, beautiful! Perfect!  That's what I need, a studious young woman.  I'm in love!  Ah, in love!  Bon Soir!"
Studious?  I'm reading a Janet Evanovitch novel.  You know?  Complete with the hunky guy with super powers who muscles his way into the life and bed of a smart but average woman who is taken by him but resists him as they search for the bizarre and supernatural something he's been assigned to find.
"Bon soir" I answer skeptically.
I'm glad to see him walk on.  I'm less glad to see him rush back.

"Oh, you're perfect for me!" he croons peering into my face.  I am suddenly awash in eau de whiskey.  "I always go out with the worst women."  Sad face.  "Where do I find someone like you?"

"Don't shop at Wal-Mart" I say stupidly.  I had meant to indicate that women like me are manufactured in a nicer store, but it didn't come out right.  He, however, took me seriously.

Kneeling in front of me he murmurs more about my wit and intelligence and feminine physicality and how good we could be together.

"Um... I do have like, four boyfriends" I say trying to ward him off.

"That's okay, I have 12 girlfriends."

"I thought you said that you didn't like the women you go out with."

"No, they're terrible.  They're all Prada and Gucci."

"Oh, so you need someone between Wal-Mart and Prada."

"Hey, how about I give you my number?  You can call me.  We'll have coffee.  It'll be amazing, I promise you.  I'm amazing.  You'll love me."  He's kneeling in front of me again, one hand on one side of the bench, the other lightly grasping my shin.

"No thank you."

"But you're perfect for me!  We could be so good together!"

"No, I don't want it."

"What's your name?"

"Diane."  This is my fall back name I always give when I won't give my real name and I don't want to fight about it.

"Oooooh.  I'm Arcturo."

"Nice to meet you."

"You too.  How about I give you my number and you can call me later?"

"No, I don't want it."

"Hey, I'm not asking for your number.  Just take mine and call me.  You won't regret it."

"No.  I don't take numbers from drunk people."

"No, I don't... I'm an author.  There's a reason.  I'll tell you in the morning.  Take my number!"

He's grabbing at my shin now and I fold up my book and uncross my legs.  He apologizes realizing he's been touching me.

"No, thank you."  I don't know why I was being so polite to him or engaging with him at all.  I think it was because he wasn't scaring me.

"No, I really know we'll be amazing together."

"I tell you what.  I'm likely to be here around this time every third Friday of the month."  He's not going to remember this tomorrow.

"Oh, that's how it is?"  He's incredulous for a second, then whiny again.  "Just take my number."


He stands up.  Gives me a pitying look mumbles something about don't know what I'm missing.  He starts to walk away.  Half a block later, he turns around and runs back.

"I just know you're perfect for me.  I've met my true love!" He leans in and tries to kiss me on the cheek.  I lean back and push him away.  He has the good grace to leave, maybe some vestiges of social aptitude are working through the cracks in his pickled personality. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Going My Way?

After the recent burglary, my newest discovery is that, whoever it was, stole all my dance shoes. Of course I discover this on my way to dance. Aside: these people were fucking nuts. Seriously, payless sneakers with leather glued to the bottom? I pick out a pair of worn down soles and leave the house.

I'm making my way towards Central and notice a red pickup with a red cap drive opposite me. A block later the same red pick up with the same red cap pulls alongside the curb. "You need a ride?" the man asks.

Ok, so what is he doing? I guess I mistakenly assume that driving is a means of getting someplace. But clearly if he has turned his car around to meet up with someone going the opposite direction as him, he has other goals. Sadly, this doesn't seem uncommon. I've noticed multiple vehicles do the same now that I'm waiting for my newest cultural experience on the 66. Not all of them could just be lost. They must have GPS for women who are alone.

"Turn left.  You have reached your destination in... 300 feet. Recalculating. ... Make a U turn when possible. Continue 100 feet. Your potential conquest is on the right."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Let's Make a Night of It!

I need to pack.  I also need to clean the kitchen, wash the dishes, do a number on the cat box, change my bed sheets and put the laundry away.  I've been thus thwarted all day so I decided to go to dance anyway.  And now, write this.

The first thing I noticed as I boarded the number 66 was a body lying across the aisle.  I stopped and stared and heard a few titters among the onlookers.  This was a show they'd been enjoying at every stop.  I decided that between standing and staring or sitting beyond the body, the latter was preferable.  So I walked down the aisle and purposefully stepped over the torso semi-dressed in navy.

I say "semi-dressed" because as I turned to take my seat I was treated to an unwelcome view of most of this man's ass.  No, I couldn't see this persons's face, but judging by the ass and pot belly it seemed safe to say the person was male.  I watched reactions as others boarded the bus feeling ill at ease that we were all assuming this person was passed out from alcohol and not that maybe he'd had a heart attack. "Noooo, he's passed out from being too damn drunk" people assured me.  And I trusted that they knew more about 'too damn drunk' than I do.

On my way home I decided to wait for the trusty 66 at the stop west of Rhythm.  It isn't quite as close but I had time to kill and wanted a change.  A short man in his early 30s stepped around the corner with a cane and started to try to engage me in conversation.

"Hey, you dun mine if I... got any... I seem to have... ???"  He started many questions at once but seemed unable to finish them.

He asked if the bus was still running.  Looking at the bus just behind him on the other side of the street I assured him it was.  He said something about losing his bus pass, mumbled something else, and generally blathered.  The next thing I could make out of his words was "you know what a faker is?  I'm a faker" as he pulled a plastic folder out of his pocket and got his bus pass out of it.

He continued to regale me with statements about how he never made it past the 9th, 8th grade, but damn there were some fine looking chicks in his class and they threw him out for being a gang member.  Do I want to see a cane dance?  Do I know who Dr. Dre is?  Do I know who Ice Cube is?  He doesn't like heights so he don't want to, you know... elevation? and heights?  Yeah, no, don't want to be... He's not drunk, or high.  Indians you know, I mean they drink a lot of stuff... water... soda... iced tea... Do I know Ice-T?  But he never made it past 9th, 8th grade.  Have I ever met a wet native american before?  A dumb Indian?  They threw him out ... well, it was discrimination cuz he's a gang member.  Have I ever seen a gang member before?  Why am I... what?  it's raining?  Do I want to go to a wet concert with him?  Can he have my number?  Can he use my phone to call his mother?  Aw dang, he's like 31 and never asked someone for her number before and ... now... she said no.  He's a wet Indian.  He's like not into... like smacking girls and stuff... he's into you know, intelligent girls.  Is this gonna work?  This ... see, I give you my number and you give me yours...

In the midst of this he threw his cane in the garbage can.  He proceeded to get on the bus after me.  I stood close to the night security officer.  I was very relieved when he got off two stops before mine.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why I Do Not Smile

The man at the back of the bus has a black tattoo on his neck.  I unconsciously try to figure out what the image is as my brain chews on other sensory information.

"Hey!  Smile; you're beautiful" the man calls to me.

I hadn't been aware of doing anything particular with my face, although I suppose he singled me out because I was looking the way of his tattoo.  I did not find his comment creepy.  I can see where I could easily have felt so, but I didn't.  I tried hard not to smile from embarrassment.  To smile when commanded to do so feels insulting somehow.  It feels like giving acknowledgement to the idea that another has power over me, that I didn't agree to give.

However, I did say "thank you" and allowed, not so much a smile as a softening to occur in his general direction.  I didn't want him to have further purpose in engaging me.

What I did find creepy was the man sitting next to him who started to speculate on why I might not be smiling.  I heard as much as "she's just pretending to be living with some guy" before I forcibly excluded their conversation from my ears by focusing on the hum of the bus.

Why do you need to make up stories about me and why you don't get the response you want from me?  Why must it revolve around a situation that I'm in and not your choice of how to interact with me?  I have answers to these questions; but the answers I can think of make it sad, a sad thing of the world and of you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Women Can Creep Too

In conversation with a male friend of mine, he shared with me these creepy stories of experiences he's had with women.  He graciously agreed that I could share them with you all.

#1  Date Scalpers
"I was contacted by someone on Plenty of Fish.  A couple of emails and a brief phone conversation, and we decided to meet for a drink.  I have a rule about first-dates.  They should be "dutch".  It is a huge peeve with me that so many women out there seem to believe that a dating should be a free coffee/drink/dinner/movie.  Bad on me for not bringing it up before that evening, because this one didn't even bring her wallet along.  What a disaster - her photo on PoF was *significantly* out of date.  Found we had nothing at all to talk about.  Let alone the fact that she spent as much time there talking with her various friends than sitting with me.  I obviously got stuck with the tab.  I had also agreed to pick her up - which meant driving all the way across town.  The drive back to her place was pretty quiet.  I really had nothing left to say.  Drop her off - and I'd driven about 3 blocks when the phone rang.  It was her.

Me:  "Hello?"
Her:  "Where are you?"
Me:  "I'm driving home"
Her:  "Why?"
Me:  "Uh - I just dropped you off?"
Her:  "Oh..."
Me:  "Obviously you meant to dial someone else.  Have fun on your next date tonight.  And please don't call me again"

Date-scalpers.  Hate that."

My dear people, if you find a date isn't going so well, try very hard to be a kind and tactful person.  This may include letting the date run its course while you try very hard not to yawn in the middle of the other person's stories.  This may include telling your date that you're not feeling a connection and you appreciate their time but you're going to go home.  This can not include ignoring your date and talking to your friends instead.

I also agree with my friend, first dates should be dutch.  This allows everyone to be independent, self reliant, feel free to choose whatever course of action during the date feels right...  In other words, there's no tacit coercion from the one who paid that the other now owes something, there's no tacit coercion from the other that there's something wrong with the date or the people involved if the payer doesn't want to pay for everything, self-reliance and independence is sexy and sane.   

Oh, and please, don't call your most recent, bombed date when you mean to call someone else.

#2  If You NEED to Date... You're Not In a Good Place to Date.
"I went out with a woman three times back in December.  Met once for coffee.  A movie.  Then she made me dinner, which was actually quite good.
Following the dinner she emailed, telling me that if we were to go out again, she couldn't help but "develop deeper feelings", and couldn't see me again unless I reciprocated those feelings. 
Third date?  While I was thinking, "But you don't even know me...", I responded that though I had enjoyed her company, [fill-in general "I don't think so" terms.....]

This week (six months later) I received an email from her:
"I'm not a freak anymore if you would want to try hanging out again. I won't make the same mistakes."

More desperate and sad than creepy, but creepy nonetheless..."

Well, I guess men and women (and potentially transpeople) do it -come on too strong that is.  The thing that strikes me about these stories is that the woman in each case was creepy about something having to do with mental or emotional connection.  Most of the stories I've shared about interactions with men, have them being creepy in matters of physical connection -i.e. sex/sexual conquest/the body as object or possession.  Several anecdotal stories does not make research, but I would fathom from generalities we have about the sexes, that this kind of split is common. 

What also interests me is what is the same about these stories of women and stories I've shared about men.  In nearly each case the creepitude comes about when one person is trying to use or make another person fulfill his/her needs.  Needs: powerful buggers.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Doctors Have Needs Too

My mission today: create a map of 36 different medical drop-in clinics and auto-body/collision repair shops, go to them and drop off marketing materials for work. 

Despite the fighting I did with google maps and mapquest, I was able to get on the road around noon today.  On my list, Dr J's Auto Clinic.  His sign has a stethoscope on it.

"Hi I'm from Masterpiece Medical Massage.  We specialize in car accident victims.  I have some marketing materials here; do you think I could leave them with you, in a waiting area perhaps?"

After determining with a glance, that he didn't really have a waiting area -only a few chairs with minimal padding lined up along the walls- I waited for him to suggest something.  He took the book and cards I handed him and suggested I tack the cards up on a cork board.

"So, you just do medical massage?" he asked coming around the counter.

*Feigning innocence* "As opposed to what?"

"Well, massage for, relaxation..."

"Well, you know the business model works best when we can bill auto insurance.  Although we also take a letter of protection from lawyers, you know, if someone is waiting to settle their case."

"So, you never do other massages?"

"Oh, well, you can call and ask.  Sometimes, if the person is someone we know or recommended by a current client we'll see someone who hasn't been in an accident."

In the future, I think I should be more direct and just say we never do happy endings.  Period.  Why should I play along like I don't know what is being talked about when someone's being indirect and rather creepy?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fuel For Fear

I chose a Smith's gas station.  I figured that in 4 months of living here using my Smith's grocery card, with no car of my own, I'd probably amassed a good discount on Smith's gas.  Was the place closed though?  The booth was dark, no other cars were in the lot; but then it was 11pm.  I drove in and found that paying by card was still possible.

After fighting with my rewards card a few minutes, everything started flowing normally.  I had just decided to stop the pump (it's the company car, I didn't think I needed to fill it entirely) when around between the two pumps a guy appeared and asked for $0.40 to make a phone call.

I froze, scared into silence.  The only thing I could think was to extricate the car from the pump and get going.  The man said something about not trying to scare me or something and, to his credit, he did not approach me further.

"If you don't want to, you can just say" he offered.

It's not that I wouldn't have given him $0.40.  It was the threat I felt, even though, in retrospect, he didn't seem to pose one.  If the money had been in my pocket, I would have fished it out, though I would have felt scared to go close enough to him to hand it over.  The change was in my bag in the car though.  That meant I would have had to turn my back on him, and climb partially into the car to retrieve it.  The thought of letting him out of my sight so close to me was overwhelming.  What if he had a gun?  What if he attacked me?  But more to the crux of what I was feeling, "what if I feel more fear?"

Perhaps those thoughts sound over the top.  It's sad for the many people who are safe in this world that they may get reactions of fear directed towards them because of the acts of few others.  I felt bad (after getting over the fear) that this man, whom I otherwise would have helped, instead got a fearful picture of himself mirrored back.  I hoped he wouldn't think it was because he had brown skin.  I've been fearful of white women in similar situations.  Still, safe doesn't mean aware or acting in smart ways.  He could take home the awareness that approaching someone late, in the dark, without anyone else around, can produce fear. 

It's been pointed out to me that I had a gas nozzle in my hand which would have been an effective deterrent should it have come to that.  I suppose this is true, but in the midst of the "fight, flight or freeze" reaction, this isn't something that would have occurred to me.  Had it, my thinking would have befuddled the idea in that I would still have had to turn my back on him, get partially into the car, and then go near him to give him the change -none of which would have made toting a gas nozzle plausible.  And it brings up another aspect which is that I was embarrassed that I was afraid of him.  I didn't want him to know.  I thought it would offend him -and people's reactions to me when they are offended upset me.

"Yeah... not right now."  I replied.  "Thanks for being cool."

I was thanking him for not getting mad at me for my reaction and my refusal to help.  I was thanking him for offering me not just a way out, but a way to talk, to end the situation and the fear, which I couldn't come up with myself.

I wonder that people who find themselves the recipients of my fear would lay responsibility for this issue back on me.  I agree that my fear is not always applied to harmful situations, and I am working on it.  But one can't choose when to apply fear to situations that are similar in make up.  Those who intend to do harm don't approach you with that intent clearly stated.  And fear is a chemical reality.  When the pathway gets triggered, there it goes.  It isn't a choice.

I expect it then comes down to whether or not you/I want someone to have to deal with potential fear, regardless of whether we are intending harm.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shoot The Slut

Okay, this is actually a link to share.  Here it is:

The crux of the article (since I know it's tough to read linked articles) is that a police officer in NYC stopped a Dutch woman for wearing a short skirt while riding a bicycle under the pretense that her amazing womanly flesh would be distracting and cause car accidents and the like.  (Short in the picture in that article looks like upper mid thigh.)  He let her go with only remonstration upon hearing that she's not from NYC.  Like... you can ticket for wearing a short skirt anyway?

The article does a good job of outlining the usual reasons this is ridiculous and insulting.  Here's an additional thought.  Why is a woman's body so dangerously distracting that it would cause people (read: men sexually interested in women) so much distraction?

I think there's something to be said for biology.  After all, hormones are powerful chemicals.  But I don't think there's anything in androgen and testosterone that makes someone turn their eyes off the road.  Distracting?  Okay sure.  In fact, I would find someone wearing a burka distracting  because it's not something I see every day here.  However, I don't think that potential distraction alone (especially for something you probably see 50 times a day in NYC) can account for such a danger.

I would suggest that sex (or desire of) as an accepted excuse for doing something wrong or incorrectly has more to do with how we think about sex.  How many people (men, women and all the other genders possible) get as much sex as they want?  Not many, I'd say.  And yes, I include women in that based on people I know, although I notice that women hold that desire differently than most men.

What keeps people from having the sex they want?  The way we think about sex is very limiting.  Starting with ideas around sex being bad in circumstances before marriage, or for pleasure, or for money; and going all the way to ideas that if one is straight then sex with someone of similar biology is impossible to enjoy and that natural sexual urges are "abnormal" or "sick".  In other words, much of our thinking about sex is that it's bad.

I realize that this is a very edgy thing to talk about, but what about adults who are turned on by children?  Okay, very clear here: having sex with, having revealing pictures of, or making those pictures of children is against the law.  But, behaving within the limits of the law, someone could still have their fantasies and enjoy those.  The creepitude factor comes into this scenario largely when we see evidence of someone using someone else (a child in this case) for their own purposes and with disregard to the other person's needs and welfare.  The extra creepitude around kids is the fact that they have much less power and much less ability to say what they want and have that respected than an adult has.  Therefore it would be super difficult to ever have a situation where no coercion or power difference was present with a child.

Whatever your turn on is, if you and any partners you have can say that your expression of it feels good and only good/other positive feelings, it's probably okay.  (Again, kids don't legally have a voice in saying sex with them is okay, so that doesn't count.)

Ideas that there are right and wrong ways to have sex often center around actual activities.  Like, "it's wrong to hit someone for sexual/sensual pleasure".  My response to that is "maybe".  It's wrong if the other person didn't consent.  It's wrong if it feels bad to anyone involved.  But if it feels good and the other person has literally said "yes, this is something I want" (and he is not under the influence, and and not feeling coerced, and is in his right mind)... then have at it!  So, I say that "right and wrong" ways to have sex should center around intent and consent rather than the activity involved. 

Ideas that some of what we may want are "bad" keep us from having sex.  Not being able to think outside our "box" about sex also does.  Thinking about sex with all that charged emotion -it's bad in so many cases, I can only have sex in this one way, no one ever wants to have sex with me, my body has to be kept covered- calls up an obsession and a dichotomy when media feeds us sexual images nonstop.  We have these messages that sex and our bodies are bad, but that we should be having sex all the time and we should be sexy.

What would happen if we were able to relax about it all?  What would happen if ideal images of sex and sexiness weren't fed to us by media or other people?  What would happen if sex was something we experienced as part of ourselves and together, openly but without forcefully putting our experiences in the way of others?  What would happen if sex was an expression, a communication, a pleasure, rather than a conquest, a battle, a never ending search?  What would happen if the police officer could say to a woman wearing a short skirt that he feels turned on by the way she looks without an expectation around her reaction and without trying to get anything from her, even attention?  What would happen if the woman felt appreciated by the respect in his voice and not like she was being objectified or asked to take care of any of his needs?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Starting At The Top

I was in Albertson's today to buy a bus pass.  Handy that they sell them at Albertson's since I was nowhere near the Transportation Center and wouldn't be able to be until after they were already closed.

Walking out I noticed a man who gave me a visual once over.  I didn't notice which "type" of look this was because I was trying desperately to not give him any encouragement.  There's nothing like eye contact that encourages people to say or do creepy things.

"Nice hat, Baby..." he leered.

In retrospect (where quips and comebacks are always on cue), I wish I'd said "It is and I'm not a baby" or "I'm not a baby" or just walked on without saying anything.  Instead I said a curt "Thank you" and walked past without looking at him.

Someday in the future a response I'm proud of will just fall out of my mouth at the right time.

Edit:  The next day I got onto the bus on my way to work.  A man likely around the same age as the one previously in this story (though maybe a little older) said to me "Nice hat, Ma'am", to which I turned, looked him in the eyes and said "Thank you."  He then went on to remark about how even the ladies in NM wear hats and isn't that funny?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"¿Hablas Español?"

The man asked this straddling his bicycle and hopping to keep up with me, mostly still walking away.  He'd ridden past me going the opposite way, but pulled a mid-sidewalk U-y. 

"No.  I don't speak Spanish" I answered him.  I always get nervous when people on the street single me out to connect with.  It's usually asking for change, or to use my phone; and I feel put in a difficult and scary situation either way.
"Oooohaaaah, okay... do you know... I need... v'runrun"  (Okay, I don't know what that last word he used was.  That's the way it sounded to me.
"Where can I get v'runrun?"
"I don't know what you're asking for -" I started to detach.  There's something about my training that makes it very difficult for me to not listen to people.
"I am single.  I need sex."

I don't know what it is about a t-shirt, mid length shorts that are too big for me and sneakers that makes me look like a prostitute.  Or maybe he thought I knew where the red light district is.

"I'm sorry.  I'm not a prostitute."

Interestingly he didn't feel all that creepy.  But the fear it raised in me was significant.  To an extent there isn't a big logical connection with the event and the fear, and then there also kind of is.  What if me saying "no" was something he chose to ignore?  I admit turning my back on him and walking away was nerve wracking.  I wanted to turn and check behind me every second.  I was hyper-vigilant noticing a pickup that turned into a parking lot in front of me then pulled up alongside me and rolled the window down.  Then, when I walked past, it drove out of that lot and into the next one right in front of me.  I also noticed other vehicles slowing way down near me while I was walking well away from the road, a guy at a bus stop who yelled after me as I walked past "Hey you wanna take a bus?  Wanna take a bus?", a woman asking for spare change at a crosswalk for diapers, and a man stumbling toward me asking for something I didn't make out as I walked past without trying to understand him.

Adrenaline was strong enough that by the time I made it home, I felt like I was walking on a little spinning cloud.  I also decided to carry my pepper spray in my hand.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Creepy Once Removed- It's Not What S/He Wears

I was not actually present for this, hence the "once removed" bit. 

I heard from a friend today about a conversation she had with a group of her coworkers.  They were discussing the fact that a woman had her chest grabbed one recent evening in downtown Abq.  One of them, a doctor, wondered aloud as to what that woman had been wearing.  In the retelling of this, I'm somewhat uncertain if the doctor was wondering, or indicating his belief that the woman could have worn something that would warrant that kind of treatment.  Either way, to even ask about it suggests the latter, and THAT'S CREEPY!

I know it's a firmly held belief.  However, it is inconsequential, insignificant, unimportant, inapplicable, irrelevant, unrelated, not at issue, what someone wears when s/he is assaulted.  Like... if you had a really nice car, and it got broken into and someone said "Well, you were asking for it; you have a Lexus."  Or if your lawn furniture was vandalized and someone said "Well, you shouldn't have had such nice stuff, that's like asking for people to mess with it."  See?  Those are ridiculous, and so is saying that what someone wears is asking for disrespect, mistreatment, assault and trauma. 

Let's put it another way.  Instead of thinking "if someone wears a low cut top and bottoms that show some cheek, then she's asking for it", turn it the other way around: "it's okay to grab somebody if s/he's wearing something that shows skin."  Huh?  Did your mama not teach you any manners? 

Seriously, it's time for us to apply some reality to folks with a metaphorical hayfork.  It's called getting a grip.  Now that's something you can grab without having to ask.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


This is so common I almost feel silly posting about it.  But a lot of what I'm likely to write about is common, and questioning what is common is a good idea.

I got off the back of the bus at San Mateo while new riders boarded at the front.  As I headed up past the front of the bus a guy stood, slack-jawed moving his eyes down and then back up my body.  He did this until it became clear that he was in my way and should probably board the bus before it took off without him.

I'm calling this sort of check-out the "star struck scan".  The guy seemed somewhat overcome and had an energy that suggested he just didn't know what to do with himself.  Maybe whatever went through his mind completely erased his social training that it's rude to stare.  It's possible for this "look" to be a little bit cute, or even flattering if it didn't also make me feel like running away to staple as many pizza boxes as possible to my person. 

In the store, I pushed my cart up a main aisle, stealthily making room for the many other kamikaze shoppers vying for a bit of aisle real estate.  A man pushing a cart the opposite way let his eyes wander down and back up my body, a little smirk on his face reminiscent of a Disney villain just coming up with her brilliant evil plan.  It's the kind of look that stabs fear into your heart and you think "Aw shit!  Those cute little dalmatians are totally screwed!"

The man said something to me as he passed and I can not remember what it was!  It was something inane and yet suggestive in tone like "What you up to today?" - something that begged a smart-ass and non-flirty response like "finding ingredients to poison my neighbor" but which gets a hurried response rising in tone like "shopping" because the urge to get away from this person is so strong that you simply can't think of something clever in the half a second he's still in hearing distance. 

I do expect people to look at me.  Humans: we're forward facing, lead with our heads and have two eyes right there at the front!  For those of us who can process visual information, seeing is a very important part of our lives.  We make important decisions based on visual data.  And yes, I do expect that data to include who we want to get to know and how we want to know them.

A lot of what makes it hard to write about creepy looks is that it's so subjective.  But that's true of a lot of creepy dynamics between people.  This doesn't have to do much with actions, words, gestures... anything that I can empirically point at and say "See?  That is creepy!"  This has to do with intent and the energy it creates.

When we come across a star struck scanner, I think his intent is really all about himself, his fantasy, what he can do with the picture of my body.  And this is creepy because, intentionally or not, he's letting me see that he's using me-the body for his purposes, without any inclination towards me-the person.  The point where he let's me see this is the clincher.  I couldn't care that someone fantasizes about me-the body (or me-the person) unless I know!

The evil Disney villain is creepy for a similar reason -I can tell he's using me-the body a way in which I haven't consented.  However, he's creepier because his smirk tells me more about the nature of his fantasy AND the fact that he's sharing so much of his reaction with me suggests that he wants me to have some kind of reaction in front of him, like smiling or looking away in disgust.  This is manipulative.  Thinking about it makes you want to scream "NO!  You will NOT screw these puppies!"  (See how well metaphors work?)

I do wonder if I read too much into this sort of thing.  There are multitudes of possibilities for everything.  I mean... maybe he was remembering his last intimate date with his right hand and just happened to be looking at my body at the same time.  Or maybe he was really unaware of how he was sharing information through his face.  However, since he then followed up with an inviting phrase, one I felt slightly creepy about (even if I don't remember exactly what he said); it validates that he wanted some interaction with me, some reaction from me.  The way he went about doing it stunk.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Creepy at the Cornell Post Office

My office keeps a PO Box at the Cornell post office, despite the fact that every one wants it closed.  We have a new PO Box in a much more convenient place, but apparently a certain very important client still sends us mail at Cornell and refuses to change that.  There are all kinds of juicy and aggravating details to the story but it's not important to this story.

In any case, I was checking this PO Box this afternoon, which we dis-affectionately call "corny".  The box had a lovely travel offer to some far off place with palm trees.  Upon stepping out the door, a guy I judged to be in his early 50's waved excitedly and exclaimed "There you are!" as if he'd been looking for me.

Surprised, I walked over.  He was standing behind the company car, which is adorned with advertisements for the many things my office does, medical massage for car crash victims, mediation, general attorney services, etc. 

"I understand you're a pain expert!" the man exclaimed.
"Ah, well, not me.  But the company I work for is." I explained.  "Would you like a card?" I handed him a card.  "We specialize in car crash victims." I continued, thinking we might have a conversation about his incessant neck pain.  I should have known by the way he took the card, surprised, and murmured an "uh, thanks" that this wasn't where he was leading the conversation.
"And I see you do divorces..." I followed his glance toward one of the decals on the car.
"Oh, yes.  The office manager is an attorney, although divorce work he tends to do outside of the office.  In the office he does more work with the car crash stuff."
"Well, what about marriages?" the man asked.
"Oh, yes.  He does marriage too."
"Well, that's not what I mean..." he laughs thinking I've just encouraged him to marry our male office manager. "I mean marrying a woman. I need to marry a woman."
I'm starting to cotton on, but it seems better if I just don't.  "Yes, he does marriages between men and women." I concur.
"I mean... well," he leans over to glance at my left hand "I see you're not married."

Immediately that creepy feeling crawls up from my shoes, blasts me in the face and slithers down my heart.
"Have a good day, Sir" I say hurriedly and head for the car.

I wish I'd said "that was seriously creepy" but I don't think of these things that fast.
I feel tricked and taken advantage of all at once.  And the fact that he was looking at my hand for evidence of marriage, makes me wonder what other "evidence" he'd found visually searching the rest of me.  There comes in the feeling of being used for someone else's purposes.  Ick.