24 Nov

My upstairs neighbor stomps so loudly that my tea kettle rattles on the stove. My light fixture swings to and fro. My cats sniff up at the ceiling.

A few weeks after I moved in, I asked him to be more gentle in his steps.

He urinated on my deck from his, bright yellow marks in the snow. He throws his trash through the slats, pistachio shells and bits of granola. I have heard him snicker and tell his girlfriend what a bitch I am, how he has showed me by raining his trash down on me.

I moved my tea kettle.

There is a man who works in the building where I work. He also lives in the building where I live. For whatever reason, I had never noticed this man and never made this connection. But one day in the parking lot he locked eyes with me and he realized that I am the same girl running out to her car for a lighter in her nightgown, the same girl who buys a Diet Coke from the machine on the 4th floor everyday.

He was delighted. He walks slowly behind my car if we are both in the parking lot. I wait for him to go inside so he doesn’t see where I live, if he doesn’t already know. What he imagines are charming, meet-cute interactions are, to me, subtly discomfitting. I don’t know this man or his motivations. He wears a homemade scarf. His car is nicer than mine. He never asks my name or says hello. He just looks.

On Friday night, a man from a dating site asked me to meet him for a drink at midnight. I politely declined. I am worth more than a late night invite. I also know better than to meet strangers in strange places because if something happened to me while I was out, it would be my fault. For leaving the house so late to meet a stranger. I mean, what did I expect was going to happen?

This man didn’t take this perceived rejection very well. I asked him to stop messaging me. He told me that it was good I said that, since I was too uptight for him. He said he knew from the get I was uptight, but he gave me a chance and I wasted it.

He sells bullets for a living and tortures his dog with a laser pointer. I wasted my chance.

On Saturday night, I was sitting on a bar stool and then this man is standing less than a foot away from me. He was giving out Adderall and shining a laser pointer at people’s drinks. I didn’t know how he found me, at first. I didn’t tell him my real name. I didn’t give him my phone number. I panicked and told my friends I had to leave for an emergency. I called a cab and waited outside, hoping that no one would follow me. Someone did follow me, but someone safe. A friend. She convinced me to come back inside, which I did and should not have done.

I didn’t make eye contact with this man or say a word to him. I am afraid of this man, and his clear delight in seeing me both in the flesh and very uncomfortable made me more afraid of him.

As it turns out, we have mutual friends. This is a small town. I should have known better.

A man comes up to me and says, “What did my friend do to you?”

And I say, “I don’t know that person and that person does not know me.” Which is the truth and all I should have to say.

He presses this issue, and says, “He’s harmless. You have nothing to worry about.”

And I lost my goddamn mind. It just left me in a whoosh of rage.

The kind of confidence men possess, to be able to say, “Oh, that guy over there who is over 6 feet tall and owns several guns? The one you made really mad earlier, you know, he sent you those weird messages? Well, because he has never threatened me or made ME feel uncomfortable, I am positive that this is true for you as well. Because you and I are the same and we walk the same Earth, having the same experiences.”

I wish I had that confidence.

I should have gone home. I shouldn’t make a big deal out of things. I shouldn’t be so nervous, god. I should accept when men are trying to be complimentary. I shouldn’t let him ruin my night. I should just let it go and have fun. I should be just fine, probably.

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