Dear guy who sat next to me at Lost Lake,
I haven’t emailed you yet, even though you handed me your card without asking if I wanted it or not. Here’s why:
You seem decent, if awkward. I’d probably have gotten along with you if we’d met through gaming or school. Alas, you didn’t give me the chance to discover that.
By sitting only one stool away from me at the nearly-empty bar, you pressured me. By addressing me every time I reopened my book instead of attempting conversation with the man on your left, you targeted me. By continuing our interaction into Elliott Bay, despite what I thought was my apparent discomfort, you ensnared me within my plans for the evening.
And you had no way of knowing any of this, because I was afraid to tell you. I was afraid of hurting your feelings, of being judged a bitch, of making a scene. I felt trapped by the implicit social contract that demands courtesy to others until they prove themselves glaringly unworthy of it. By everything I have ever been taught, it would have been impolite to ask you to leave me alone. I would be the reason people feel like it’s so hard to make friends.
I don’t know if that’s because you’re a man and I’m a woman, or because of my specific upbringing, or because I like the color blue. I do know that I threw aside my evening in order to validate you. I know that it didn’t occur to me until much later that my desire to read in a public place was just as valid as your desire to talk, and your unwillingness to recognize that was rude, rude as all hell, even if you didn’t “come on strong” or say anything “creepy.”
What your actions said was that your wants are more important than mine.
So I want to apologize. By attempting what I saw as minimal politeness, I deceived you. My positive reinforcement, however fear-motivated, was ruder in the long run than a brush-off. It harms both you and any women you approach in the future. And I wasted our time. For all I know, this was awesome for you. For me, it was just uncomfortable.
Don’t learn from me. Next time you want to make a friend, or a date, or whatever, feel free to say hi. If the person ignores you, or goes back to their book, or just doesn’t take the initiative themselves to continue the conversation, that’s it. It’s over. Move on.
The girl in the red sweater.