An e-mail to a friend:

Yes, it has come to this, I WILL tell you about my day, because what the FUCK it was so weird.

  1. I leave my house this morning to go to work. I'm wearing black pants and white shirt, no makeup, hair down, generally plain jane and not at all flashy. And my big Navy coat over it all. I'm walking along 156th by Pal-Do World, reading Love in the Time of Cholera, when I notice that a car is coasting next to the curb and matching my speed. I look up. It's an SUV with a clean-cut, nerdy-looking guy in the driver's seat. I stop (in retrospect, this was retarded). He rolls down his window (this is where I should have started running or snarling). "Uh, excuse me, miss? Um, I just wanted to have the most beautiful red hair I've ever seen. Um. Have a nice day." "Thanks?" (wrong answer here, too) He waves and drives off. I notice that's it's an Eddie Bauer edition Explorer, no less. I immediately regret not cussing him out. In what fucking universe is this acceptable behavior?! I start to freak out a little. Is he stalking me? Is he a serial killer? Why didn't I cuss him out??? (an aside, for those of you who think this is perfectly acceptable: He DID stop the car. After cruising next to me for quite a while. That is creepy. Read up on how teenage girls get kidnapped in broad daylight on open streets by being pulled into cars, if you still feel like berating me about it.)
  2. At bus stop, reading book and trying to quell The Fear. Truck slows down to honk at me. I don't even look up. Bastards.
  3. Arrive at work. Coworker Jessi relates two tales of male creepiness that happened to her before I arrive. I relate mine. We commiserate. Feeling better afterwards for a while. Safer. We talk about psychology and anthropology and I drown my sorrows in intellectual stimulus.
  4. Jessi leaves, I'm on my own. Guy comes in that I sort of recognize, to tell me the chemical makeup of pewter (which we had touched on briefly a few weeks ago and I expressed an interest in finding out what it was). He's polite and leaves on his own. Okay. Fine with this, mostly. Now I know what antimony is, at any rate. Soothing.
  5. Young man walks past the store twice, grinning at me through the windows both times. I ignore him. Can't handle it today.
  6. Arranging racks. Some dude in a baseball hat: "Uh, excuse me? Like, I'm not going to buy anything, but mumble mutter." "What." "You look uh, nice." "Thanks." I'm fed up at this point. I give him a horrible sneer (which could be mistaken for a smile, I suppose) and he leaves. Fucking Christ!
  7. I close up and go to see the band that's playing swing music in the food court. Sideline: I like dancing. I like dancing with a partner. I like swing dancing. Back to main story: Talk to a neat older lady who's friends with Jessi and is a store regular. I tell her I wish I had a partner and she hooks me up with a slightly pudgy young man with black hair, beard and glasses. He's a nice guy, not creepy, not large, not anything. Just kinda bland and friendly and hey, he can dance. So we dance, and I only hit him in the face by accident a few times. Turns out he's a programmer (duh) and a gamer (duh) and a general nerd (duh). We dance and talk till the end of the set, probably due to me being desperate to unload my creeping feelings of misandry acquired throughout the day. He's One of Us, and totally nonthreatening. Anyhoo, I let him walk me home and he continues to be chivalrous, and interesting enough, and not creepy. So I introduce him to the roomies and show him some of my work and give him my e-mail address and kick him out because I have to work. And he goes. And he lives in Omaha, so I never have to see him again. Yay. Some faith in male humans is restored.

But why today?! What did I do today to be so...inspiring? Who are these other creeps? Why do they think it's okay to stop me on the street, or when I'm trying to work? WHY?

This, teaspoon, is the horror of being female. We were talking about it a little last night. This was a particularly bad day for it, and not just for me, but it's exemplary nonetheless. The constant FEAR. Were any of these men serial killers? Probably not, but maybe. I fit all sorts of victim profiles; I can't help it. Did any of them want to hurt me? A little more likely. But what if I -had- just totally yelled at them? More danger. They look for cracks in my composure. They want an excuse to keep interacting with me. I can't even... The fastest, least dangerous way to get rid of them is to smile and nod and say 'thanks.' I hate that. I hate feeling like I have to play along with this bullshit.

This would have been a -completely- horrible day were it not for the very end, which was somewhat reassuring. And that's why I did it, because I can't let this sort of unsettlement take hold. It's crippling. Better to force myself to do something like dance with a friendly little programmer for a few minutes and then have a normal conversation. Better than walking home alone, in the dark, snarling and clenching my fists. This way I was forced to maintain composure, to keep myself from being derailed.

Can you understand these things? I am curious. Does it seem weak, or paranoid, or unreasonable? Maybe you have some similar issues with your fans. I do not know. I am...stressed, I suppose.

So now I work. If I can finish the site, maybe I will feel better. Like...a person. Maybe not a HUMAN. But a person.

I am terribly on edge, but it's fading. Day off tomorrow. Day off from...ugh...the WORLD.

- E