Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data

Some of you may know that I shake martinis a few nights a week at a dimly-lit place here in the City. I must say, in spite of being pretty seriously introverted, I just love bartending, and have come to really look forward to those nights as a welcome change from my quieter days, which are generally spent in some combination of writing, researching and yoga. It's a perfect contrast to being so stuck in my head, and I love the physicality and the fast pace of it, along with the added benefit of getting to know so many cool and interesting people who I otherwise would just not run into.

That being said, I also meet a lot of men. Which I am, for the record, totally not complaining about. Added perk of the job, shall we say. So, as a bartender, I probably talk to, oh, say fifty men an evening, give or take, and the vast majority of them are cool, good for a laugh, good for a flirt if I'm feeling like it. Always makes for an interesting evening, and I love the rush of the unexpected dreamboat sitting down at the end of the bar when I am least expecting it. But now and then I do get the random stalker type who nurses a little crush while failing to realize that no, I am not in love with him, I just get paid to talk to him. There's a difference.

But after a little run-in over the weekend, I've got men on the mind; more specifically, older men, confidence, and the bizarro phenomenon of misguided entitlement that one sees now and then as a young chick behind the bar. So this guy comes in Saturday night. He'd been in a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, and we'd had a few conversations about football, the weather, San Francisco, you know. The usual small talk. He rolls in again Saturday night, sits at the bar, and I can see from the look in his eyes that - oh dear god - we've got a case of the Misguidedly Entitled Middle-Aged Man Syndrome. What is that, you say? Well, briefly, it's when some middling 45 year old dude, in this case a Danny Devito lookalike (minus a few pounds, plus a bad goatee) decides you, a smokin' and independent young chick, are definitely into him (on the basis of, well, no evidence whatsoever), and proceeds to harass you with irritating confidence while grinning slimily and checking you out when he thinks you're not looking. It's pretty gross. Leaves you feeling slightly molested. And makes you wish you weren't trapped behind that bar and having to make further conversation in spite of your lack of interest and, well, complete revulsion.

So, long story short, this guy proceeds to harangue me with "When are you free??" and "How can I take you out?" and "When are you here?" etc., ad nauseum, while I, stammering awkwardly, and being the awful liar that I am, mutter something about being really busy, uh, "baking for the holidays" and whatnot. Yes, I actually said that: "No, sorry, I can't go out with you, because I am really busy baking for the holidays." Ok, I know that's pathetic, beyond pathetic, and I promise to come up with a better retort next time, something along the lines of being a lesbian and having a boyfriend who is a 7'5" body builder (yes, both of those things at once). But anyway - if you're a dude and the chick you just asked out tells you she can't go out with you because she's busy BAKING for the HOLIDAYS, don't you get a clue and realize she is definitely, most definitely, not into you??

Well, not this guy. He persisted. He asked my co-worker how he could get me to go out with him. He tried to follow me out. It was bad. Really bad. And finally I got rid of him. But now I am going to be holding my breath every time he rolls in, all 4 feet of him, flashing that stalkerly glint in his eye.

And the whole point of this, what I keep rolling over in my mind, is the way this parallels other experiences I have had in the past with older, socially inept men following me around in public places and carrying themselves with this insanely overblown sense of confidence in their powers of seduction. And I am just baffled as to where this false confidence comes from - especially when I flip the gender roles and imagine if it were, say, some middle-aged housewife a la Roseanne Barr following around, say, Justin Timberlake and assuming with the utmost confidence that she could absolutely seduce him with very little effort. That's laughable. I don't see it happening that way. What's the deal? I mean, obviously, there's the well-known double standard of older men being with younger women. But geez. Most of the time those match-ups involve clear trades of cultural capital, e.g. Donald Trump's vast wealth and social power for Melania Knauss's great beauty and reproductive capacity. (Not to be too crassly sociological, but that's a pretty accurate understanding of those types of relationships, per social theory). What about for those of us who don't trade in those kinds of extreme sources of cultural capital but still see this dynamic reproduced? Where does a middle-aged Danny Devito lookalike get that kind of swaggering confidence? I don't get it. I know it's gendered, I can see that, but geez, wow, this is ridiculous.

I don't know really what my point is - just that this is happening, and will continue to happen, and where the hell do these guys get their blind confidence in the face of clear rejection? And is there anyone out there who is 7'5" and wants to stand in as my body builder boyfriend for the next time this dude rolls in and sits at my bar??


Matt said…
Sadly, I come up a little over a foot short, and also I live 3 time zones away, but I do like kicking short dudes in the crotch.

So count me in, next time we're together.
Toni said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heidi said…
Haaalarious...I can't wait to hear about the Return of the Four Foot Stalker while I am away. You know this can't be the end...

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