Is this ever okay? We're gonna go with "no," but at the same time, we feel for this writer's dilemma: the truth is, in her situation, we'd probably do the same thing.
TBD's Sarah Larimer was just walking down the street, minding her own business (and in flats, for people who like to know this kind of thing), when a random dude approached her. Here's what happened.
The man stopped your reporter again and said he was participating in a scavenger hunt. The prize, he said, was Super Bowl tickets and he needed a picture of a stranger's feet. He asked if he could get a shot of my feet. I was a few few blocks from home and in no rush. I agreed without protest.
Then the man told me to take my bare foot out of my red ballet flat. This, in case you were wondering, is when I started to suspect a real problem was developing. It was, however, apparently not enough of a problem for me to start getting mean.
I took my foot out. The man took his picture. I thought it was over.
Then he asked for another photo, this time of the other foot.
He gestured to a side street, and suggested we take the picture there. I declined that offer but said I'd allow it if we stayed put. The second shoe slipped off, and I began seriously plotting my escape route. The man then cradled my foot, a move I did not approve, and took his picture.
I pulled away, starting to leave a third time. Now comes the part of the that I hope my mother never hears about: the guy, in an apparent thank-you gesture, tried to kiss my foot.
How often does a woman find herself in a situation that seems relatively harmless and then just...gets weird? Sure, you should just stomp off immediately, but so many of us are conditioned by society to be nice, to please, that that's not always as easy as it sounds. Then too, there's the fact that often it's a dawning realization that something's not right, rather than an obvious red flag.
Writes the author — who reports the creep to the cops,
At first, I was shaken. Then I was mad. Mostly, though, I'm sad. I'm confused and I'm disappointed and I'm embarrassed. I feel like an idiot. I feel like a dope. I feel like I should have known better, because I do.
We all do, but it happens to so many of us. And what's worse is, there's so much quotidian creepiness (although I sincerely hope this is not in fact quotidian for anyone, in DC or otherwise) that's, as she says, not exactly a crime. Only the other day, I stopped to give a guy the time. Which quickly turned into his hissing pornographic abuse at me, which turned into my scuttling away, alarmed and, yes, feeling stupid. You're not stupid, but you have been used. That's what's so awful, in part, is that you've been drawn into someone else's gratification against your will. It's violating, it's scary, and it's easier to blame yourself than acknowledge that the world is full of creeps who prey on common courtesy.
Image via Shutterstock.