This post is a long one, but I feel like it’s important because I learned a lot.
For another close friend’s 20th, we went to the city centre for dinner then to a club.The band playing downstairs from the bar were good. That was the best part of my night.
After that it went downhill because of a creepy guy who kept trying to chat me up. I made the mistake of giving him a polite smile when he sat down beside me and my friends in the bar area. He said his name was Richard, which has the rather appropriate abbreviation of Dick.
I thought it was just a friendly conversation. I think most girls my age would find it weird that a middle-aged man wanted to talk to them, but since I started lip reading classes, half of my friends are over 70. Sometimes I’m more used to talking to people in their older years than my own age group. And I’m really, super naiive. In my defence, I’ve only had the ability to learn social skills for two years. Everything’s still pretty new to me. Maybe I decided to make friends with him because it was polite, or because he was on his own and he might be lonely. I know the feeling, but soon I realised that he was nothing like I used to be. For a start, he was too eager to make friends and too socially capable to be that awkward person on their own. People didn’t hang out with this guy for a reason.
With my friends and Dick tagging along, I went downstairs to the club. It was so loud in there, I wished I’d brought my earplugs. It was a struggle to hear anything. But I managed.
It took me a while to realise that this guy wanted to be friends with benefits. He kept asking me if I wasn’t hot wearing my coat and woollen beanie inside the club. I felt fine, and told him so.
He said that he was thirty years old and had alopecia. I think he was at least forty and bald from age.
He kept trying different questions, looking for stuff we might have in common. He said that I was “Random” and he liked that. I’m not very random. He pulled out of his backpack a pipe shaped like a horse’s head to show that he was random too.
Writing this, I wonder if his backpack was full of bits of junk used to endear himself to people.
He saw that I was talking some sign language with my friend (who’s deaf and has kindly taught me some BSL over the years) and said that he knew a little BSL. He showed me how to say “S***head”. I think that’s the only word he knew.
After an hour of him hanging around, getting clingy, I was very fed up of him.
He asked if I was a tomboy because my two friends were boys, and I said “No, not really”.
Did I have any tattoos? I don’t, and didn’t roll up a sleeve to prove it.
Would I like to go outside with him to get some fresh air? “No, I’m fine here, thanks”.
He pulled me up to dance with him. I pulled my hands away and danced/jigged on the spot beside my friends. Then someone spilled beer on my head. It wasn’t a splash or a drip, it felt like it had been poured. A tall man said “Sorry, that was my fault”, but didn’t move away immediately, or sound apologetic. Him and Dick watched me a little bit. Maybe to see what I would do. I didn’t complain or take off my thick coat, or go away from my friends to dry my hair. I flicked the worst of the beer off my head, wiped my hands on my jeans and said “that’s okay”. After a pause, he went away.
“That girl in blue is raising her arms while she dances” Dick told me in a last-ditch, failed attempt to get me to do something more interesting than jigging on the spot. I didn’t bother to look round to see her.
Later I saw out of the corner of my eye, a tall man put a pill into Dick’s empty coke can on the table. I think it might have been the same guy who spilled beer on my head.
Dick touched my ear (practically the only bits of my skin he’d seen were my hands and face, since I refused to remove my long black winter jacket) and said you have tiny ears, that’s so cute. I really disliked him by now and was creeped out by the whole situation.
I was asking to leave by now. My friends looked out for me and we got a taxi home an early (which was still very late).
WHAT WOULD I DO NEXT TIME? As soon as I spotted the first sign of someone like him, leave the club. I know more about danger signs to look for now and thankfully, I got home safe.
So what have I learned from tonight?
I’ve learned that BEING POLITE IS POINTLESS IF IT PUTS YOU IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION.
Dressing in a way that blends in with other people (within reason) in the environment makes you safer because you don’t stand out. A girl in a jacket and beanie where everyone else is in dresses and strappy tops will look out of place. And attract attention of people like Dick and Co.
Stay close to your friends, the more friends you’re out with, the better.
Again- don’t be too polite! Smiling politely at strangers who seem a bit odd and are looking at you can attract them to you. Most people reading this would probably think, “Well, DUH!” but it really was a learning curve for me.
Don’t drink too much. Being able to think clearly is worth a lot. I’m so glad I had some extra lemonades and drank slowly that night.
Just because someone is talking to you and smiling, doesn’t mean that they’re your friend.
Look at their eyes. “Eyes are the window of the soul” I don’t know who said that, but they were right. I avoided looking at Dick’s eyes because he was making me feel uncomfortable.I think part of me didn’t want to find out what kind of creep I was with.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO “SPOIL THE NIGHT” (The politeness thing again). While Dick was away at the bar, my friends asked if I was okay with him hanging around. Stupidly, I said “yes, I think he’s harmless”. I didn’t want to spoil their night by leaving the club. If I had thought things through, I would have realised that my friends weren’t having as much fun as they could have because they were worried for me and fed up with him too.
Avoid that bar/club if they say that they’re a regular there. Although the live music was quite good, I think that particular dive is off the agenda forever.
If like me with my Auditory Processing Difficulties and newly emerging social skills, you find that in noisy environments with lots of people you’re at a disadvantage, BE EXTRA AWARE.
Lastly, you can say NO (I refused to go outside with Dick) or say the TWO MAGIC WORDS to get someone to leave you alone.