How many times have you heard the expression “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” usually accompanied by a toothy grin and maybe a wink? I’ve heard it. And I can respect it. And now I’m co-opting it. Changing it to suit my purpose. Because, motherfuckers, I’m over it. Check this scenario:
I’m walking home from school one night last week. I’m taking the path around the lake. Jen and I had walked halfway together, then she went her way home and I went mine. It’s just after 8pm so it’s dark. But I don’t trip. I know so many people in the town that every 4th person I pass I actually say hello to and mean it.
So I get to the white columns and this guy is looking at me like he knows me. He may have said, “wow” but it also could have been hello so I make eye contact. I don’t recognize him and keep walking. But then he stops, and calls back to me. I turn around, maybe I did know him. We stand about three feet apart and I look him over properly in the dark: he’s about 6′, medium build, very dark skin, dark eyes, shaggy short hair, some gray streaks, between 38 and 42 years old I guess and no, I don’t know him. But I know his type. And they love me. Not sure why. Nothing I can control. It’s just how it is.
So he begins with, “Can I give you my card? If you called me, I would come running.” He has a very thick British accent. That’s different. So I ask why does he want me to call him. And he says because I’m incredibly pretty and wow, my dimples are just killing him, terrific smile. Right, well I have a nice smile, it’s true. I’m still keeping my 3 feet distance. He’s wearing a button up white collared shirt, dark jeans, a black thick sort of sport coat, maybe leather.
He’s got his card out and is walking over to hand it to me. I take it. Read his name. He’s a rare book seller. Hmm. Kinda fits with the accent. So I say nice to meet you, I’m Airial and I shake his hand. He gets a little too excited about my name, “Really?! You’re kidding, like the fish, that’s beautiful, and you’re beautiful.” Ahhh too bad dude, if you’re really into books and literature, you would have known my name is from Shakespeare.
So I take his card and turn to leave. He doesn’t ask for my number and he doesn’t try to follow me, so that is good. But then he calls back, “I’m going to my car, I don’t live around here, I was just visiting a friend, are you going to call me? We can play Scrabble, do you like Scrabble? Do you cook? If you can cook, that would be amazing.” I turn around, smile, and keep walking.
So a few days go by, and I call him. Mostly out of curiosity. Like who is this guy? I’m not instantly attracted, mostly just curious. I leave him a voicemail saying I’m Airial from the lake. He calls back and it gets weird quick. It’s a Friday afternoon when we talk, he asks where I’m at and if he can come see me, like right that moment, I say no, I’m not interested in meeting up today. He tells me nothing about himself, but wants to know everything about me. I don’t tell him much, mostly the stuff you can find by doing a basic google search of my name. He says he’s very attracted to me and doesn’t want to do all the aloof nonsense. He wants to see me again and soon.
Hmm. My reactive feeling is that this is too coercive, too demanding. My spidey senses started tingling.
Sorry, bro, but aloof is my middle name and there is a reason for it. He asks me to call him when I am free and he will come to me whenever, even if it’s 1am, lots and lots of compliments on my appearance and energy.
Ok, so you’re offering yourself up as a bootycall. I get off the phone with a sure, I’ll call you sometime. And maybe I would have, but he called me the next day.
He starts with: “What are you doing right now? Are you free? Would you make me a cup of coffee and we can talk?”
What the fuck? “Um, no, but we can meet somewhere for coffee.”
Then he says, “You’re not understanding what I am asking, will you invite me over, make me a cup of coffee and then we can get to know each other?”
Wow. Now we’re not even going to meet for coffee. “I understood you, I am not inviting you to my home.”
But he persists, “Well why don’t you ask me now what you would ask me at a coffee shop, I’ll answer and then you invite me over.”
“No. I’m not inviting you over, that would not be a wise decision. I don’t know you. I’m not having you come over.”
And then he got all testy. “I don’t like talking about private things, things private about myself in public. I can’t be myself at a coffee shop, I can’t tell you how I want to make love to you in a coffee shop.”
I get real with him, point blank: “Dude, it’s not gonna happen. I don’t know you. And now I don’t want to know you.”
“How about this, how about you talk this over with yourself, about how incredibly attracted I am to you, how instant that attraction was, how I’m willing to share my fantasies with you, and when you’re ready to make me a cup of coffee at your home, you call me and I’ll come over.” and then he hung up.
So I’m thinking, cool, that’s over, I’m not ever calling this guy again.
But no, he then texts: “I want u.”
Fuck. So I text him back: “This is not an enjoyable interaction for me. I don’t have sex with strangers. Goodbye.”
Then he texts back with: “The enjoyability is in getting over fear and knowing attraction for what it truly is. Wasn’t just sexual attraction. Energy was bigger than that. Still is.”
I don’t reply. I have no idea what he is talking about. He is obviously having a way different experience than I am. I didn’t feel anything like what he is describing.
Then he calls a few hours later, I let it go to voicemail. He leaves a long rambling message about how moral I am, and something about integrity and that it’s rare to find someone with both beauty and morality, and that if it is that important to me that we meet at a coffee shop, he will do so, and that my permission is of course vital, and that again he is so attracted to me and that he hopes I call him.
What I hear is: I think you’re beautiful, so I want you, and me wanting you should be enough for you to want me too and I am thoroughly confused as to why you’re not doing what I tell you to do.
I’m not ever calling him, and I have a few strategies to put into effect if he calls me.
And this is where my reclaiming “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” comes in. Except the game is about not being sexually assaulted and I’m just a player trying to win. Even if this guy is not a sexual predator, he gave off enough signals that it’s not worth getting to know him. There’s a reason why we have all of that getting to know each other business, Rapey McRaperson.
Don’t tell me what to do.
Don’t put me on the defensive.
Don’t assume the attraction is mutual.
Don’t tell me to get over my fear.
Our society has made clear that it is up to me to protect myself from unwanted sexual advances, like right now it is reasonable to enough people that me taking his card means I was asking for whatever happened next. The fact that I called him means I wanted to fuck him and now I’m just being mean. The more he tells me how attracted to me he is, the more dangerous this becomes because we all know that men just can’t help themselves when they are attracted to a woman. Common sense says that I should know better than to invite some strange man into my home because then I am to blame if I am violated. Seriously, this is the field we are playing on.
If this random dude who I met at the lake really did have fully consensual sex as his goal, there is no way it’s going to happen. We live in a rape culture. All of us, men, women and children, everyone. So guys, in case you need another reason to hate rapists, here’s one: You are not having as much sex as you could because of sexual predators.
I know rejection hurts, but sorry bro, don’t hate the player, hate the game.