We like to sit at the bar, talking politics and laughing together at the newfangled invention that is cable television. The sports channel is always on and we find ourselves confused and mesmerized by the spectacle, commercials especially. We enjoy our pints and leave before too many weekend revelers arrive. Stay overlong and the band starts up, seats are few and far between and suddenly happy hour isn't so happy anymore.
So last night, as I was waiting for the check, I felt a presence to my right. I turned my head slightly to see a man squeezing in next to me, trying to place an order at the bar, even though the place wasn't that crowded yet. He was about 6'2", dressed expensively and very close to me. Too close, in fact - I could feel the heat of his body and some part of his torso was pressed up against my shoulder. I looked at Mike and whispered, "This guy is in my bubble."
I subtlety gestured. "My bubble. He is in it." I was beginning to feel a bit cross.
I signed the receipt, put on my scarf and still, the man didn't move. Mike stood up and put on his jacket. "Perfect timing!" the man said. "Are you buying too?" Smarmy.
I put away my credit card and started putting on my coat. The man put his hand on the back of my chair, despite the fact that 1.) my purse was still on the back of it and 2.) Mike was already standing up. He was hurrying me out of my seat and I daresay he would have pulled it out from under me if given half a chance. Rude.
For a moment, I considered sitting back down and ordering another beer just to spite him. Instead, I turned to face him. I very calmly said, "Excuse me."
The look in my eyes, however, said something else entirely. It said,"I will kill you where you stand if you don't back off."
And just like that, he backed off, surprised and apologetic as I gathered the rest of my things and walked away.
Women often can't tell the difference between being polite and being submissive. We believe we have to be accommodating to perfect strangers. We fear being thought of as anything other than "nice." We apologize too much and for no good reason. We are the first to offer up that fake smile, the one that says, "Please don't hurt me. See? I'm harmless."
Act like prey and that is exactly what you will become.