March 02, 2005


I nearly slapped a tiny, amiable elderly man today. Why? Because it was the second time I'd passed him shuffling down Church Street. The first time, he smiled broadly at me and held out his hand as though offering a handshake. It seemed reasonably charming. When I put out my hand to shake his, he instead grasped my hand firmly and asked me, still smiling broadly, where I was going. I had to pull away hard to get him to let go, and I walked away thoroughly unnerved. Today he approached me again, smiling, asking me where I was going and holding out his hand. I didn't want him deciding to accompany me to the park, and the hell I was going to get my hand grabbed again, so I gave him a brusque, "To lunch. No. Bye." with my hands out of reach and stomped on down the street. Half a block later I turned to look behind me and saw him shuffling gradually in my direction, but he must have given up at some point because I didn't see him at the park or on my way back to the office.

Lesson? Twofold. One, creepiness comes in all shapes and sizes, including three times my age and half my size with twinkly eyes. Two, and this one's really important, my hands belong to me. Access to them is granted on an as-desired basis and, also really important, the desire in question is mine. You wanting to touch me does not constitute grounds for doing so unless I share the inclination. You can call me a weird frigid antisocial bitch if you'd like, but do it from at least two feet away. Thanks. Ugh.

Posted by dianna at March 2, 2005 02:12 PM

yeah! that's how i feel about hugging, more or less. except strangers don't offer to hug me on the street too often though.

Posted by: didofoot at March 2, 2005 04:57 PM

Sneaking up from behind and yelling "Boo!" solves 95% of all elderly-related problems. It's a scientific fact!

Posted by: Andrew at March 2, 2005 04:59 PM

there's also a weird correllated thing that happens for those of us (including dianna, i'm sure) who've spent some short and longago amount of time in the ucb hapkido club: the immediate hardwired response to someone grabbing your hand and not letting go is to break their damn wrist. but then you end up wondering two things: (a) do i even remember how to do this?, and (b) oh god, am i going to have to find out on a little old man? ooh, and (c), if i do, will it look better or worse for me if i end up hurting myself more than i do him?

Posted by: katie at March 2, 2005 05:24 PM

Was the instructor of your hapkido class a small, harmless-looking old man? If so, then maybe the memory of having your ass handed to you by a twinkly-eyed senior citizen will help you get over the guilt of snapping Mr. Grabby's bones like twigs.

Posted by: Andrew at March 2, 2005 05:49 PM

It's funny you should ask that, Andrew, because the instructor of the UCB hapkido classes was indeed a small, harmless-looking old man whom I initially mistook for somebody's elderly grandparent coming to class to watch. I've likened him to Yoda before: old, wizened, grumpy, kill you with his mind if he took a notion to.

Kristen, I understand you much more now. Well, sort of. My irritation at having my hands grabbed doesn't really apply to my friends, but I do understand the similarity.

Posted by: Dianna at March 2, 2005 06:57 PM

people who pat me on the head have been warned they'll lose their fingers in a horrible spoke-related accident.

people who get about six inches away from me and just STARE have been warned that it might just be the last thing they see.

people who stand just to my left or right, or behind me, having a full view down my little (and i mean little) shelf of cleavage usually don't get warning, they just get stabbed in the knees with a sharp pencil.

and believe me, people hobble away from me more often than you'd think. i never quite realized how alike college boys are to really old wrinkley men. ew.

Posted by: Ang at March 2, 2005 11:32 PM

Ang, I want to do some calculations of people's size-to-intimidation ratios. You'll be off the map.

Posted by: Dianna at March 3, 2005 09:09 AM