He messaged me first because he saw a photo of me with one of my favorite musicians.
He wanted to tell me he had met her, too, once, in a café.
I didn’t really care, but he was attractive—like, “why are you talking to me? don’t you know you could do better?” attractive—so I went with it.
We chatted for a bit before he hit a speed bump.
“Woah,” he said.
And he was 27. I was slightly too young for him, and he was slightly too old for me, but I was bored and it was Easter break; all of my friends had gone home for the holiday, and I was alone in my dorm room watching American Graffiti on demand. I desperately wanted something to do that night.
I suggested we hang out—not go on a date, as our having accounts on a dating website might suggest. He said that was cool and asked if I wanted to go see Dune at the Logan Theater. I’m not into sci-fi, but I desperately wanted something to do that night.
He told me to meet him at his place.
A train, a bus ride, and a walk through a muddy park in my favorite shoes later and I had arrived. He opened the door before I could even ring the bell. I asked him how he was doing.
“My grandmother just passed away.”
Seriously? I thought. What do I even say back to that? Yeah, I’m sorry to hear that, but that’s not how to start a conversation with a random stranger. I should have left then.
So he started telling me how he’s part of a group of men who talk to fraternities to prevent date rape, and I thought, cool, someone who gets it. Maybe I’ll stay.
He brought me inside and sat me down on the couch and poured me a glass of wine and asked me if I was hungry because he had made tacos. I couldn’t resist making the obvious sexual joke. I was only 20, after all.
“You know, I have a cousin who’s 13; maybe the two of you would get along,” he said.
I should have fucking left then.
I mean, I was pissed, so of course I started acting cold and distant. He had the nerve to tell me he thought my “sass” was “charming.” Yeah, look at what an adorable attitude problem I have! Who could ever think that maybe I wasn’t okay with someone talking down to me, and that that feeling was valid?
Picking at my food, I didn’t say much. He asked if he could take my plate back to the kitchen. I obliged.
He ran his hand up my leg. “I’ll be right back.”
No. This isn’t a date. I made it so clear that this wasn’t a date, so why is he doing that?—and even if it were a date, what the fuck? I’ve been here for thirty minutes and I never consented to that.
“This isn’t a petting zoo. Don’t touch me.”
He looked at me as if that were the most appalling thing he had ever heard.
Coming on to me sexually when I made it extremely clear that I didn’t want that is pretty appalling to me, actually.
He got up and took my half-empty plate to the kitchen. He was in there for an excessive amount of time; I assumed he was recounting the incident to his roommates. I should have left then.
I could feel my face flushing, my blood boiling, my ears fuming.
I waited around another minute. I didn’t want to upset him.
No, fuck that. He upset me. He didn’t deserve my consideration anymore.
I should leave.
I was leaving.
My limbs were on autopilot, scooping up my belongings as quickly as they could. Do I have time to put my shoes on before he comes back and catches me walking out? No, probably not. I picked up my oxfords and made a run for the door in my socks.
The door had at least four locks.
I scrambled to figure out which ones I had to unlock to get out. I was running out of time.
“Are you leaving?”
I was out of time. I froze.
“Um,” was all that came out of my mouth.
“I mean, you seemed kind of mad at me, so…”
“Yeah, it was kind of a rude thing to say,” he said.
You jackass. I don’t owe you politeness; I don’t owe you anything after what you just pulled.
“—You know what? Why don’t you just head out?” He shut off the porch light before I was even out the door.
I sat on his dark front steps, fumbling with my shoelaces and trying to figure out how I was going to get home.
A bus pulled up, paused, and drove past me.
There wouldn’t be another for at least half an hour, and it was so cold.