He had a wedding ring on his pudgy hand, which I know well means about nothing.I think people who travel a lot are desperate for connection, understandably so.

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That I should care and treat him differently because the employees there do? I was hard-pressed to figure out a way to tell this man that I didn’t want to talk to him, that I wanted him to leave me alone, that even though I was replying to him, I was not interested, that his advances and insinuations were not a compliment and were insulting.

It was certainly a comment meant to lend him credence. Needless to say, he gradually found more and more ways to work his way into my silence. Now, he was a pretty meek, unattractive older man, so my mind played awful tricks on me, wondering if perhaps he was being facetious, and I should laugh with him at his expense. I alternately wondered how on earth how I was going to tell him he was freaking me out (or that I was freaked out in the more NVC way of stating his), or trying to remember how often I had been in a similar position, or wondering if this really was as wrong as it felt to my mood, my body, my sense of safety in the world. We live in a society where for me to be direct and state my disinterest directly would have caused a scene and would have become even more uncomfortable.

I really did want to give him the benefit of the doubt. We did engage in a tad bit of conversation, and then other people came in, at which point he took the opportunity to move to the seat next to me, asking after he was in the seat if it was okay. I didn’t want him there, but it would have caused a scene to say so. They have the ammo of my potential “blown up” reaction in their pocket, with the slingshot judgement of Bitch to throw out if I dare express how disinterested I am.

This slight but persistent transgression is how they work their way into your space. I won’t go over the entire interaction, but over the course of the interminable destruction of my sense of peace, he insinuated things like “in case you fall in love with me” and any number of seemingly joking references to the possibility of ME falling for HIM. We live in a society where my clear body language of my back to his face was not clear enough, and was not respected.

I nodded unbelieving and turned back around to watch the musicians.

Perhaps that was supposed to make him appear special?

I sat upright and far forward enough to make it clear that I was not there to be picked up on, happy to be on my own.

I was uncomfortable enough that I considered leaving, but I relaxed a bit when it seemed clear that the guy to my left was too into his computer to care, and the guy to my right did not make the expected approach or awkward comment.

He offered to be a tour guide, and give me his number I didn’t know how to say that I would never call it. The next night, I walked a long time along King Street, checking out the sites and atmosphere, looking for the place that felt right, had the right balance of males and females, good food, and a non-predatory atmosphere.

Perhaps I figured I would let him think his ploy worked somehow, leaving the potential that I would override my obvious discomfort, talk myself out of that and into calling him. I finally found what felt comfortable after probably a mile of enjoyable adventuring at Macintosh.

He then asked my name, to which I bristled, cocked and turned my head, making sure not to turn my body toward him and fired off, “What’s yours? We live in a society where a lone female is viewed as a target, a sexual prospect. He even bragged about his multiple properties, and unabashedly offered for me to stay at his place in Asheville, and spoke about his 7 year old son, and after I mention being a single mom for my daughter’s life, he spit out that he is a single dad.