Anatomy of an Ass-Grab

This is what it feels like:

Late December 2017. So I’d decided it was dive-bar night and met up with my gf (the pool shark) at the local hole-in-the-wall place. She, as usual, had traveled with an entourage — tonight it was 4 other women and 2 guys — all people I hadn’t met before. I got there a bit late, and they already had a game going. I got a drink at the bar and joined in for the next game. Me, my gf, one of the other women, and the two guys were all trading-out, playing rounds. One of the guys sort of looked like Channing Tatum, except a bit older (my age) :). The other guy resembled Cheech Marin. I started testing the flirt-waters with “Channing”; he flirted right back. It was light and fun. I started feeling good about myself.

Eventually, Channing and I were paired on one team, with Cheech and my gf against us. This was fun, even though Channing was on his umpteenth drink. (HIM: “You’re sooo hot!” ME: “You’re really drunk.” HIM: “I know!”) But it was the kind of friendly atmosphere where everyone acknowledged each other when someone sank a good shot. Cheech, I noticed, would pat Channing’s butt when he walked past. In fact, three of the women, and the two guys seemed to be rather “touchy” with each other. Whatever – they all seemed to know each other, and that’s how they rolled. It was all cool until I finally had a decent run, after which I circled around the pool table to wait for my next turn.

As I passed by Cheech, who was sitting on a bar stool, he said, “Good job!” and patted my butt. Only he didn’t just pat my butt – he squeezed it. I was wearing jeans and a baggy, past-my-butt black sweater, so in order to reach my butt, he’d had to reach under the back of my sweater. And he’d done it quickly, in the half-second it took me to walk past him.

My good mood instantly evaporated in a cloud of confusion. I had just been treated like an object — had been deliberately touched without my permission — but I didn’t understand why. Why did he think it was okay for him to treat me like that? But Cheech was behaving like nothing was wrong, and that confused me, too. He was acting the same way he’d acted right after he’d patted Channing’s butt, only it hadn’t been the same thing. He hadn’t squeezed Channing, like he’d done to me. Also, he and Channing were friends, from before that night, and he’d only just met me an hour ago. Why did he think it was okay to grab me like that, when he didn’t even know me? Why did he even have his hand anywhere near my butt?

I’d been having such a good time, and I didn’t want to let this one jerk ruin my night, so I froze and said, “No, no, no,” softly, but loud enough that only Cheech could hear. “No-no-no, what?” Cheech asked. I didn’t respond, except to shake my head and move away from him. I knew my having-fun facial expression had hardened, and I knew he could see that, even though I didn’t look at him. He didn’t grab my ass the remainder of the night, but he proceeded to try to touch me through my sweater’s cutaway shoulder holes, saying in a voice that sounded fake-playful, “Your sweater has holes in it!” My shoulders were the only skin I had exposed that night, aside from my neck, head, and hands. Not that it should’ve mattered, though, if I’d had a low-cut sweater with cleavage falling out, or shorts and an exposed belly-button. This guy didn’t have permission to touch, and he kept trying to do it, anyway. It made my bad feeling even worse, and I was still bewildered as to why he was doing this to me. He wasn’t doing it to my gf, or to the other woman who was playing with us. (Albeit, he seemed to be pretty handsy with the other three women at our table, but they were with him, as well, and they all knew each other.) I tried to squash my anger that began to rise up, afraid that if I punched him, like I wanted to, I’d be the one guilty of ruining everyone else’s night. Not to mention that I knew I’d be the one with assault charges brought against me, and he’d be “the victim.”

All I could do was to keep well out of arm’s reach of him the rest of the night. I tried to recapture the fun feeling, but it was gone. Instead, I felt a lot of anger and humiliation, and it took me a few weeks to fully process it. All because of some asshole’s feelings of entitlement and superiority, thinking he had a right to a half-second of gratification at my expense. Because I didn’t matter as a human being.

The Rules #12 - keep your hands to yourself

Side note:

That night, about a half hour later, Cheech, Channing, and the other women left. I then told my gf that Cheech had grabbed my ass.

“Seriously?!?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Wow – I wonder what his wife would think of that.”

“He’s married?!?!” I asked.

“Yeah, to the half-drunk woman who was sitting next to him.”

Sometimes I really don’t understand people.

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Distraction

The thing that eventually happens when I’m meeting all these guys who, on paper, are perfect for me, and yet to whom I’m not attracted, is that you know I’m going to come across a guy to whom I am attracted. And he, of course, will be completely wrong for me.

I went dancing last night with my friends. It felt so good to cut loose on the dance floor! But the Universe was still teaching me lessons….

My Philosopher-nature has been given carte blanche for a while to try to go about the process of culling from databases, and weeding out ones that don’t match what I want. Right height, right age, college degree, non-smoker, bit of a geek, self-aware…. But when I’m sitting here all dead-inside, trying to intellectualize a relationship, and then Mr. Hot-and-Sexy-Wrong walks past…. The Animal sits up and takes notice. And then tries to take over. You can only cage a wild thing for so long. (No, I did not have sex, and I wouldn’t blog about it, if I did. But still–DAY-um! 😉 )

I should probably pick the one on the left. But...!

I should probably pick the one on the left. But…!

Here’s my problem: there are  2 categories of men in my life–ones I’ve dated, and ones I’m friends with. I’ve never had a guy in both categories at the same time. I’m terrified of emotional intimacy–it’s not “safe.” I do let some of my closer friends in, but it happens very gradually, over time. Trust takes a long time to build, and I don’t have to worry about physical intimacy with them. Conversely, I have a tendency to avoid emotional intimacy with guys in physically intimate situations. But that is not a recipe for a good relationship. Chemical attraction only gets you so far. Plus, it’s disrespectful to both parties. (Yeah, I know: emotional detachment in physical relationships — I sound like a guy! 😀 ) What I want this time around–what I fantasize about–is having both. Being able to be physically intimate with someone I already trust emotionally. Respect, cherish, desire, love. That’s how it’s supposed to go. In other words, I need to find the right person to help me balance the Philosopher and the Animal. Do you think he’s out here, on this river-current?

brook-james-peak-wilderness

Rules I Want My Sons to Know About Dating (and about women, in general….)

Apparently all men in my age-range have been cuckolded. And the younger ones have been exposed to too much porn. These are my recent experiences. As a mom of five boys (and three girls), I’ve learned a few “dos” and “don’ts” that I’ve started imparting to my sons. There’s more I wish I could tell them, but… they’re my kids. I can’t share everything. But if I could, here is what I’d lay out, to help amplify their chances of success in their relationships with women:

Rule #1: If it’s apparent that a woman has put effort into her appearance, at least tell her she looks nice – acknowledge her effort. Even if your socks aren’t knocked off. I was excited to go on a recent Second Date with this one guy. We’d had an amazing first date, and I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a Second Date in over a year. I asked a few of the wives at the company picnic that day for “second date wardrobe” advice. After much deliberation we finally decided on my blue dress. (It was the first time this guy was going to see that I had legs — I’d worn jeans on the first date.) I spent 20 minutes curling my hair and another 10 picking out the perfect accessories. But my date didn’t seem to notice any of this. He never said anything. I was left to think that either he didn’t notice that I looked any different… or that maybe he thought I looked worse, and he was being polite by not saying anything. Hmmmm….?

That same night, when the bill came, the waitress put it down right in front of him, on his side of the table. I was ready to leave, but he still sat there, completely ignoring the bill. We were having a really great conversation, but after 5 or 10 minutes (that’s how long it felt like), I was in disbelief. What is he doing? Is he waiting for me to pay? So I did. And I wasn’t entirely happy about it. Rule #2: The man picks up the tab. Always. (With the exception of it being his birthday, and his female friend insists.) In a dating scenario, the man always pays. This is an expensive rule, but it goes toward demonstrating: (a) that the man wants to take care of the woman he’s with, (b) that he has worked hard and has the means to do so, and (c) it is a way of showing deference toward the entire gender – a nod, if you will, toward the “weaker” sex, who, btw, still make less, on average, than men for doing the exact, same job. Yup, even in 2016 America, this is still true. This is what I’m teaching my boys, screw women’s lib. You’re the man, you pay. I have male friends who refuse to let me pay, even though we’re just friends. (“You’re the woman, I’m the man, I’m paying,” they say. I love that one. It ennobles me. Also: “You’re a single mom! With 8 kids! I’ve got this one.” A humbling reminder of my realities, and makes me grateful that they see a more-complete version of who I am.) When I took out my wallet, Second Date Guy made a rather weak attempt to stop me, but, being miffed and proud, I of course said no, and plunked down a few twenties. He let me. We’re just friends now. (*But let’s face it: you can’t wish people would magically be who they’re not. If a guy doesn’t believe or adhere-to this “rule,” that’s okay. The rules of Planet Mouse don’t apply to everyone on Earth. It doesn’t stop me, however, from searching for new Planet Mouse inhabitants. A girl can dream! 😉 )

Rule #3: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Otherwise your words become meaningless. This one shouldn’t even need explanation. Ladies, raise your hands: how many of us have stayed too long with guys who said they were “gonna do” something, but it was all just empty words…? My last boyfriend — guy I dated in Summer 2015 — was “going to” take me out “somewhere nice.” I helped him organize his apartment, clean out ancient storage units, haul heavy-ass display shelves to show off his hobby stuff up to his apartment, feed his pet spiders…! He kept saying he was so happy with how everything was going, how he really wanted to take me out to a nice restaurant, etc. Weeks turned into months. We worked on his life in-between my life with my kids. And somehow we never went out anywhere — okay, lunch on the fly, on the way to the home improvement store, in shorts and t-shirts, but not “anywhere nice” — unless I was paying. (Yeah.) Finally, I had an epiphany. It took a really awful thing/event for this epiphany to happen, but it happened during a moment of clarity in which I realized that this guy was never going to take me anywhere nice. He’d demonstrated that his words meant nothing on enough of a repetitive basis that his words were moot. And I knew I was done.

Actions mean a lot more than words. Just sayin’.

Rule #4: Always take care of her first, before you take care of yourself! Okay, not only should this one should go without saying, it’s basically in the Guy Handbook. If you don’t believe me, try reading GQ or Cosmo. Or Men’s Health. Or 50 Shades of Grey. Or the Internet! Why are there any men out there who don’t understand this??? There are even books about it! That’s just bad form to leave your partner flapping in the breeze to have to take care of herself, after the fact. Seriously bad manners, this one. (If you have to ask if this is you, then yes, this is you. Shape up, and fix it, dude!) After conversations I’ve had with my female friends, I really, really, really want my sons to understand this basic thing, that, though simple, pays so much respect to a female-partner.

Rule #5: Women are people, not objects. On a recent sans-kid weekend I went to see a play with a girlfriend. Beforehand, we went to a restaurant across the street for drinks, appetizers, and to catch up. Halfway through, though, the waiter stopped by our table… and asked for my phone number, and if I were single. Huh?!? “I’m single — I’m on Match — but you’re too young…!!!” I sputtered like someone for whom English wasn’t my first language.

“How old do you think I am?” the waiter asked.

“Uh, like 27?” I replied.

“Yeah,” he said, “I’m 27.” That tidbit helped me recover a bit. It put him in perspective – with my kids.

“Well, I’m 47,” I said. “I have a daughter only a year younger than you. Thank you, I’m flattered…, but no.”

“Okay, point taken,” he said. However, later, when I asked for the check, he’d tucked his phone number inside. Still giggling about having been hit-on by this cute kid, I texted him:

“Thank you for making me feel pretty tonight! You’re way too young to me, but thank you! Hugs!”

Two hours later, when my friend and I were at the play’s intermission, I saw that he’d responded: “Ha, you were gorgeous tonight. And you realize I’m not trying to wife you up, right? Or be a publicly acknowledged ‘interest?’ Just curious if you’re that charming all the time. Embrace your cougar capabilities, [Mouse.]”

Reading that, everything inside me went cold. While I realized that this kid probably thought he was being complimentary, the actual picture he’d painted was that he was interested in me for free-sex-in-a-back-closet. And, wow, as much as I’m all for hot-sex, this cold, relationshipless concept he was offering is absolutely the farthest thing from what I’m looking for. Kinda made me feel icky/dirty, after reading it.

Problem is, he’s not the first 20-something to approach me with a similar ideal. I’ve had others, who, when I’ve told them flat-out that I’m not a cougar, have responded: “Awwww, darn! Well, do you have any friends who are?” (This is a verbatim quote.) Fortunately for young adults everywhere, I’m the last person who’d ever take them up on it. They’re all so young, they just remind me too much of my own kids. Eew! Maybe they sense this, and that’s why they’re drawn to me: I’m “safe” that way. 😉

My love languages are action and touch. Those mean so much more to me than anything else – even words (yeah, weird for a writer, huh?). Women are different from men. We need to be held, cherished, protected, taken care of. We need to know we matter in a special, unique way to the person we choose to be with. We want someone who wants to spend time with us after we’ve had an intimate night together. Not someone who only wants the fun, date-night stuff, and then takes off out the door when the real world kicks in. Someone who also wants to be there, shopping for a house-project. Or going to the grocery store, so we can make dinner together later. I want someone who can, ultimately, integrate with all the parts of my life. And who cares about me as a whole person.

Really, this is about self-respect, on the deepest level. I hope I’ve taught/am teaching this to all my kids–not just my boys: to respect themselves that much. To try different things, but to hold out for someone who treats them better than they treat themselves. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The Rules: #3 – Walmart

Yeah, I know. It’s sad that I have to post this. But it comes from more than one experience, lately. (I mean, Walmart? Seriously? I can’t even get a guy to hit on me at a bar – let alone buy me a drink – and you’re hitting on me in WALMART?!? And you’re not even offering to pick up the tab on my orange juice??? Ugh! Leave me alone – I’m shopping, here.)

Consider this my PSA of the day. 😉

The Rules #3 - Walmart