My first and favorite romance, New York City, has been quite the tease lately.
Monday, the day that reminds us our lovely weekend is over, the sky opened up and revealed an easy, sunny and lustful day where my red sweater dress was entirely too much. And then, as we transcended from one extreme to the other, Tuesday through Wednesday were unbearably cold. We finished the week with temperatures that enticed Spring’s arrival.
So on Friday, in an effort to encourage my lover in his warm embrace, I dressed for the occasion in a tight, light blue dress, thin leggings, and my old forgotten friend, The Open-Toe Stiletto. Perhaps my outfit was a tad inappropriate for mid-February, but I’ve never been one to adhere to regulations, where they be imposed by the Fashion Week goddesses or not. However, my attempt to tempt the heavens to keep the weather airy and breezy…backfired.
My favorite morning café, where the coffee is self-serve and in actual pots instead of economy-sized drippers, is merely a block away from the magazine – but those 40 or so steps can seem like a lifetime, when you spent a night almost completely absent of sleep. Not in the mood to discuss anything with anyone, I avoided eye contact on my narrow-focused path to fuel up for the day – but one man, with his bald head and short-stature, sought to match my pace.
Listening to the click of my heels, anticipating the pick-me-up I was getting ready to pick up, I barely noticed this at least 45-year-old whisper loud enough over my shoulder, “Excuse me?” Automatically turning on city-slicker mode, I quickened my pace, confused by this businessman walking way too close for a stranger. Especially one who was obviously way older than me.
“I’ve just gotta say, you’ve got it together. From your heels to your hair, everything is spot on. Right on. I’ve never seen someone so beautiful, so together at 9 a.m. Great job,” this man complimented. Still exhausted, but gracious enough to give him a smile and a simple “thank you,” I continued toward my destination. But Mr. Creepo wasn’t finished yet.
He pulled his way closer to me as I nearly stumbled into the brick building to my right and a flash of fear wondered, “Nothing can happen in broad daylight in Chelsea, right? I mean, it’s a Friday morning, not 3 a.m.” As if he thought I was somehow intrigued by him, he bargained with a wink, “If I promise you to do everything right, and I mean everything, will you just give me your number?”
Caught off guard and slightly afraid, I straightened my posture, jerked my head around with a glare only possible from extreme-tiredness and blurted the first defensive semantic that came to mind: “I’m sorry, I can’t. I have a boyfriend.”
When the door slammed behind me and I made a distinct effort not to watch the man continue past the cafe, I caught my breath, flattened my hair from the wind, and there, in the entrance, scrunched up my forehead, utterly confused. Not necessarily by Mr. Creepo, but by myself.
Why is it that when I’m uninterested in someone or feeling insecure or unsafe, I automatically throw out the boyfriend card? The you-best-leave-me-alone or my big, bad man will come and show you what he’s made of and what I mean to him? How is it that being taken, having someone to watch over us – where it be the truth or a little white lie – makes us feel like whoever it is that’s bothering us, will back down?
Is commitment protection? Or is it just easier to say you love someone else instead of get-the-hell-away-from-me?
After nearly spilling my coffee all over my clingy dress (alright, well perhaps a few drops dribbled down) – I burst into the office, ready to share my story with my editor and J. By this time, I had a shot of energy from the Columbian blend and was being far too outrageous than what pre-10 a.m. allows.
“I am appalled by Manhattan men! Seriously, who is this creepo who thinks it is okay to just march up to me, interrupt my morning, and tell me he’ll do ‘everything right?’ He doesn’t even know me or what would be right by my standards. And he complimented everything from my heels to my hair – gross! He may not be old enough to be my father, but he could be some twice-removed uncle. Easily,” I discussed in disgust with J, who plainly nodded along, while adding in his own tidbits of experience with the street gawkers.
Tossing my hair and sighing heavily into my fat-free crème cheese and half-bagel, my co-worker H, the witty sales associate who’s timing is always on-point, matter-of-factly said, “Linds – let’s be real. If he was wildly attractive, young, and said all of those things, you would have smiled and probably given him your card.”
Sassy in my own respect, I replied, “Not if he was going all Biz Markie on me telling me he’s got what I need.” She laughed, agreed, but threw in one final chip: “Even so, you wouldn’t have told him you were in a relationship and if he would have asked to buy you that coffee you’re drinking – you would have allowed him.”
Ah, the gal’s got a point.
I tend to find myself a pretty confident and incorrigibly honest with most everyone and everything in my life. I have my moments of blatant insecurity, but for the most part, I’m pretty straight-forward and as a Virgo, a tad critical – in the most loving of ways. But when it comes to being hit on and purposefully sought after by someone I’m not interested in – I almost always play the card of taken, instead of being direct and letting a guy off the hook by showing him he had no chance at hooking me.
Bluntly put – I hate rejecting guys.
I’m not a fan of hurting anyone’s feelings, even the hearts of those who’ve mangled mine, and also – I don’t want to be argued with or attempted to be persuaded, when I can tell in five seconds my interest is lost. Or it never really arrived in the first place. Especially when it comes to men, who for whatever reason, think it’s appropriate to go after women 20 years their junior. This girl, Mr. Creepo, is not a gold digger and will build a mountain on her own instead of hiking up a trail of deceit.
Though I realize my double-standard, as H so cleverly pointed out, I also know what is crossing the line for me or popping my personal space bubble. And regardless if Mr. Creepo had been a foot taller with a full head of hair and subtracted a dozen candles off his last birthday cake – anyone who tells me they’ll do everything right isn’t Mr. Right in my book. I’d like to think I’ll end up with a guy who is far from perfect – and perhaps even far from perfect for me – but rather, a human being who doesn’t declare his sexual righteousness within the first ten seconds of seeing me.
Next time, instead of using an imaginary boyfriend as a defense, I’ll try to take the higher road of honesty and say, “Sorry, buddy. You aren’t strong, dark, handsome, and available in a 20 oz cup for $1.75. And really, that’s the only thing that’s right by me, right now.”