Power plays in the quest for a lay.
I love the library. Not only is it a place with free wi-fi, it has media I can take home for free, it smells like ageing books, everyone is quiet and nobody, NOBODY will talk to me for HOURS at a time in there. No obligations. No judgements. Just internet, books and silence.
So I went to the library today just to return my copy of Harry Brown and X-Men: First Class, when my Mum rang to tell me about the car. I popped all the covers open, checked the right DVD’s were in the right cases, and slipped them down the return shoot, all with one hand, and then walked outside to have the rest of the conversation.
I stood in front of the glass cabinet outside the library, in a corner and finished up the conversation.
I’d seen a copy of Ricky Gervais’ stand up I wanted to borrow, but as my Mum regaled me about car woes, someone seemed to shadow my movements. I didn’t think about it, there was constantly new people at the library, usually just wanting to know about borrowing without talking to the librarian.
I hung up, and looked at my phone, ready to go back in when the guy lurking around spoke to me.
At first I didn’t hear him correctly.
“Pardon? Lurch?” I queried.
“I really like the way you look.” He said, darting his eyes up and down my figure.
Great. There goes one facet of my library experience.
He offered out his hand as a single earbud hung over his shoulder, the other one still in. I shook his hand and received the weakest hand shake in existence; his hands were ridiculously smooth, smoother than mine.
He offered his name (which I’ve forgotten).
“What’s your name?”
I repeated my name a few times, each time with him coming back with some variant of Lisa.
“Do you come to the library a lot? I’m here all the time. I study at University.”
“Once a week, maybe? What’s your major?”
“Human studies. What do you do?”
His eyes darted up and down at me again, and I just wanted to leave, but standing in the corner, I had no out.
“Freelance. Mostly writing.”
“No, not really.”
“Well, you can write about me. The wonderful man you met at the library.”
He then started asking what days and times I came to the library.
“Awww.” He rested his hand on the display case. “Are you sure you’ll be here?”.
“Depends on my schedule.”
“Silly schedule.” His eyes darted again.
“I really, really like the way you look.” He repeated.
He got closer, and I resisted the temptation to push him down the staircase.
"I really need to go now. I was just dropping off some stuff today."
“That’s sad. You should stay.”
“I really have stuff to do.”
“Okay Lisa. I will see you next Wednesday then.”
He smiled and then slowly turned and walked down the staircase - the exit.
I bashed the elevator button, waited for the doors to slide open and held the Door Open button for a couple of seconds as he took his time walking down the stairs.
He then walked over to the door of the main shopping centre and hovered around, so I detoured for a bit and just fiddled with my phone.
After a few minutes, I made sure he had gone and proceeded to go back to my day.
It wasn’t that someone decided to hit on me at the library that made me uncomfortable. It was his approach. Straight from his opening line, “I really like the way you look.” he had already felt like telling me he had objectified me was a smooth move. I had realised he had been watching me in the library as I talked on my phone. Instead of being observant, he went for just talking about my physique and how it appealed to him.
He had me in a corner and moved during the conversation to not only reduce the space available to me but to increase his dominance of the space.
He didn’t remove both his earbuds when talking to me, meaning from the get go, he didn’t warrant anything I could say as being worthy of his full attention, which was only confirmed when he got my name wrong 5 times and dismissed what I said I do for a living as being only important enough to write about him.
He badgered me about when I would be at the library next, dismissed my schedule and tried to guilt me (poorly) about attending more for his sake.
He repeated his “I really like the way you look.” line as if he thought it was necessary and paused as if I owed him something for him noticing I am attractive.
He then decided to “leave” when I said I needed to leave and hover around the entry/exits, to further impede on me, once again dismissing my use of my own time.
And his baby smooth hands further indicated he had never done any hard labour; when my hands are rougher, it’s a poor sign. Not to mention the limp handshake.
I know people in my life who would argue that I should go out with this guy for “experience”. I know some people in my state of Singledom who would. The problem is that they’d be ignoring obvious signs of a disrespect of women & clear indication that he weighs physical attraction as the most important factor. He didn’t read my body language clues, crossing of my arms, turning my body away, short sentences. The weak handshake coupled with the overt move to increase his dominance over the space means he felt no need consider me an equal. Anyone who doesn’t treat me as an equal doesn’t deserve my time.
Nor do they deserve yours, ladies.
I’ve seen it way too many times before. Pity dates. “Experience” dates. Staying in relationships for “their sake”. I don’t owe a stranger anything. If I see him again, I will tell him I’m not interested. I won’t lie. But I will probably face a backlash.
I don’t like being hit on because nearly every man who has attempted it has pulled the exact same moves. It seems to be an epidemic with men that they feel like puffing out their chests and looking down on women is somehow a well formulated move. It’s a power play. Used by people who think pushing one person down in the food chain is a path to success. Until a man approaches me, and treats me as an equal, rather than a pretty object, I will continue to close down these type of men and be happily single.
“I really like the way you look” won’t wash. Something like “I love Ricky Gervais, what do you think of his new series?” or “I see you’ve got a copy of Shakespeare’s complete works that could kill a man” will. But I’ve yet to meet a man like that.
Even in a library.
So there you go, library dude. I wrote about you. And if you make the library uncomfortable for me, I swear to Jeremy Clarkson, I will pull out my giant book of Shakespeare and slap you silly.
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.