So, I’m basically a hermit these days. I see my three friends and my dog. And my three friends’ dogs. And that’s about it.

Except for on Sunday nights, when I go to karaoke.

Karaoke is the highlight of my week. It’s at The Waystation, a Dr. Who-themed bar where the clientele is all either weird, nerdy or autistic. Lots of them work at the Renaissance Faire. Most are passionate about some fandom, or musical theater, and they found this niche place where it’s totally normal to be weird. I’ve made amazing friends there, and I love the freak-watching, too.

A few weeks ago, at The Waystation, I had a brief conversation with a guy. I was drunk, so I’m sure I was flirting, but not on purpose. Even when I left that night, I knew that it was going to be a problem. He sent me a message on Facebook, and we chatted for a little bit.

“Would you like to hang out outside the Waystation?” he asked.

I agreed. And then he mentioned something about it being a date.

“Oh,” I said. “Honestly, I don’t want to date you, or anyone, right now. But I’d be happy to hang out as friends.”

All of those things were true. I’m kinda done dating (yes, I’m a 25 year old spinster). And I certainly didn’t want to date him. But we actually had a lot of interests in common and I had enjoyed our Facebook chat – even though he was, like, a serious geek. He did martial arts. He was really, really into video games. He had a goatee.

Anyway, in the same conversation that I told him I just wasn’t interested, we decided to hang out as friends. I invited him to come over to my apartment with a bottle of wine to talk opera and contemporary literature. I was looking forward to it.

I realize now that that was misleading. My thought was – hey, I have plenty of male friends who come over to my apartment and share a bottle of wine with me. And it’s all perfectly friendly and copacetic. But he didn’t know me well enough to know that this was truly a platonic invitation.

He came over. We drank wine and talked for an hour or so, and it was actually really fun for me. And then, he mentioned something about dating me again.

“Listen,” I said. “I’m not trying to be cruel. I just want to manage your expectations. I do not want to date you, and that’s not going to change.”

He got up in a huff and started putting on his shoes, while standing up. Try to picture it. It was as awkward as you are imagining. 

And then he started throwing a hissy fit.

“I swore off women a week ago,” he said, “but I made an exception for you.”

Oh, thanks awkward guy. You made an exception for me. Obviously I should have appreciated that for the honor it was and sucked your dick right away.

That could be the end of the story. It’s good enough to be a blog post, just on its own. But it gets better.

The next day, he put up several Facebook statuses about the “devastating rejections” he had experienced over the past several years. Then he wrote a long blog post about how he was swearing off women – somehow, even though he had worked on himself, was in the best shape of his life, had a good living situation, had a job, was smart, women still didn’t like him! Those crazy women. To reject a catch like that. So, instead of assessing what he was doing wrong, he had concluded that he was just going to be alone forever. In an exceptionally pathetic, self-pitying way.

A couple of weeks later, I started looking into the “Men’s Rights” community. Basically, they believe that feminism is ruining the world and men are oppressed by assertive women. They’re also crazy people, and notoriously nasty. It’s entire nonsense, but I wanted to see if there was anything they had to say that I could understand; anything that could translate into my life as a strong, independent, definitively feminist woman. Basically, I wanted to see if I could write an interesting essay about it for Salon.com.

I sent the proprietor of one blog an email, in which I told him the story of this gentleman and myself.

“Was that male entitlement?” I asked. “What do you think of ‘the Friendzone?'”

I offered him this story because I knew that he, and the denizens of his blog, would have a vehement response to it. I mentioned the whole charade to The Toddler, who I was trying again to be friendly with. When I told him about it, he flipped out. 

“I can’t believe you told my story,” he said. “That was so, so inappropriate. You need to apologize.”

The next day, I found out (through the blog) that he had sent an email, challenging my story.

“Holy fuck,” I messaged him, as soon as I saw it. “Why would you do that?”

“You acted inappropriately,” he said. “I did what I had to do.”

Yes, that’s right. I acted inappropriately by feeding a fringe community a story about a nameless guy I had hung out with. I refused to apologize, because he was being fucking stupid. And then he retaliated. And, by retaliating, he sicced a community of woman-hating crazy people on me.

The message boards filled up with invectives addressed to “you little whore,” calling me a liar, a piece of shit, telling me that The Toddler was clearly a much better person than I was.

“You’re probably, like, a three, anyway,” someone said.

Yeah, that really hurts, strange Internet man.

I tried to respond, calmly and sincerely, until it all started getting scary. Someone found my Facebook. They read this blog and compared the writing to what I had said on the forums.

I knew a little bit about Internet harassment, especially of women. Angry men would stalk women obsessively, calling their landlords, their employers, telling lies about the women they simply wanted to smear. I started to get scared.

I messaged The Toddler.

“Can you please try to call them off?” I said.

We sent a few messages back and forth, in which he both asserted that he wanted to help keep me safe and that he had done “what he had to do” in outing me. I stopped responding to the comments on the blog, and the thread slowly died off – no thanks to The Toddler.

Since then, I’ve seen him a few times at The Waystation. I’ve tried to say hi, but he won’t even make eye contact. So, of course, I only push further. My goal, now, is to antagonize him as much as possible – by being relentlessly friendly, painfully cheerful, and excruciatingly positive.

Advertisements