I grew up in British colonial culture, and my dad used the phrase “F-Off” when it came time to suggest that someone who’s annoying might well be able to improve a particular social setting by leaving it.
I’m not writing this euphemistically; it was truly pronounced “eff-off” … I rarely heard my dad say anything more harsh.
It’s a nice phrase to use, or even think, when the more commonly used variant is not yet justified. Two examples are an insect buzzing around me, or someone being ostensibly nice in a social setting when really it’s just a pretext for him jockeying to start a conversation when I really want to be left alone.
Absence of Politeness
That’s a lot more polite than what sometimes happens. For example, just this week I took a pretty girl friend (as opposed to girlfriend) to lunch. I’m gay, she’s straight but the friendship works. While we were walking in an elegant hotel casino towards the restaurant, a group of guys walked past us, and one guy told her openly “I wanna screw” except that he didn’t say “screw” — he was more crude yet. Another example that still irks me from some years ago was when my stepdaughter was in her early 20s, doing grocery shopping. Some random guy walks past her and said “nice boobs” except he didn’t say “boobs” — he was more crude yet.
In contrast with that, someone at least trying to wrap a some politeness around the process of hitting on the girl … it’s a major step up, but that still doesn’t generally make it a welcome event in my book, anyway.
Today was a good example. I nowadays schedule my appointments in a way that leaves me some free time in which to enjoy life in a leisurely way while still being productive too. This afternoon, I was sitting at a table in a sparsely-seated patio at Mimi’s Cafe in Reno, in the shade of a lovely tree with just barely enough sunlight dappling through. The two cups of coffee were perfect, the omelet was perfect, the waitress was professional and the view of the green slopes of the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains was spectacular, with some dramatic clouds boiling over the mountain-tops in ultra-slow motion. I enjoyed the meal very much. I enjoy high-quality like-minded company (and yes, feel free to read between the lines) but sometimes solitude is just fine too.
Seated at a table that was sort of next to me and slightly behind me sat a gentleman wearing a cowboy hat and making the sort of comments that I consider clumsy conversational foreplay — being obsequiously nice to the people at the table beyond mine, being abundantly witty and charming yet with sexual innuendo in conversation with the waitress including commenting loudly on how sexy his glass of beer is … I know the routine. I was sitting half-turned away, hoping I was mistaken as to his mind-set.
One nice thing about having a large mane of naturally curly blonde hair is that it makes a nice curtain when I want to be shielded from view. Sitting turned away from someone helps too.
A few minutes later, the gentleman loudly mentioned that my food smells so nice all the way over at his table and he repeated (this time ostensibly to empty space) how sexy his beer glass is. (In guy culture, the same witticism can be repeated again and again with no perceived decline in humorous effect).
Inwardly, I groaned. I was never a submariner but as I heard somewhere, there’s something called “action stations” that’s the step before “battle stations.” It’s a state of readiness. So, after hearing the last two utterances I started getting ready for him initiating a conversation that I didn’t want to have. From then on it became difficult for me to just relax and enjoy the view, because I kept expecting a cowboy hat to loom over me and then someone would introduce himself and … I really didn’t want to deal with that, so I planned how to avoid it.
Yes, it’s a passive-aggressive approach but “escape and evade” is indeed a legitimate part of combat tactics.
Having social anxiety tends to make a girl very aware of the eggshells she’s presuming she’s walking on. For example, about twelve years ago, when I was working in an open-plan office, I would be continually aware of the breathing patterns of a co-worker in the same software team, even though she was sitting on the other side of the room. From her breathing patterns, I could tell when she was about to have a melt-down, and I would preempt it but going over to her workstation to try to defuse the next blow-up before it happened.
I continue to automatically apply these skills though nowadays I avoid pacifying someone who’s becoming agitated, unless it’s someone I care about. Early on, as the guy was making overtures, I could hear how he was being gentle with his silverware. As time went by and I continued to ignore his witticisms, I inferred her was becoming ever more surly in how he used his silverware more and more aggressively — and how vastly less nice he was being to the waitress.
In guy-think, assuming he was still planning to approach me, the perfect time would be as I was getting up to leave, with very predictable timing, after I went through the check-paying ritual. For that reason, I expedited my exit by getting up quickly and going to the waitresses’ station inside the building, then paying my bill there and leaving through a side door.
Cynical insights are one massive benefit of being a trans girl and having lived in guy culture from an early age. I still can’t think like a guy but I can recognize and predict patterns in guy behavior. Whatever I had learned in guy culture, as a trans girl in stealth mode, I also validated during exposure to guy culture in my role as a girl openly. Being an escort gave me a large sample of guys on which to test my premises of “and now the guy will probably do this next.” I can’t read minds, but I’m rarely mistaken.
Not that I dislike guys — some of my best friends are guys. However, most guys tend to not be all that socially endearing, in my estimation. Besides, I’m not just the fourth letter in LGBT but also the first letter. So, for many reasons, I tend to not respond warmly to guys hitting on me.
The Plight of a Public Persona
Today’s experience got me thinking how I can learn from it, and apply this practically.
A professional musician of interest to me posted with a slightly wistful and frustrated air, on social media some time ago, that she’s ready for more fun in her life. The type of fun she can have solo, such as reading, writing, watching movies, playing on the computer, being artistic in her visual-arts studio, writing music, playing music, thinking, going on solo walks … she probably excluded that from the scope of her comment. She had all that already. Her current set of friends and family, with social matching activities … she probably excluded that as well since she had all that already, too. She probably meant she’d like to do something additional to what she was already doing — perhaps go out and have fun. What would be her idea of fun?
She’s a shy cerebral girl, with probably some social frustrations, so it was an interesting mental exercise for me to imagine what she might enjoy. Perhaps she’d enjoy a road trip through lovely scenery, with the itinerary nicely flexible, and not set by a rock band’s concert tour schedule. Stops along the way would include museums and landmarks. Nights would be spent in comfortable hotels, not in a bunk in a tour bus. Meals — ah, there’s the problem.
I can imagine this girl sitting at a table, enjoying lunch, when she becomes aware of social tension building up nearby, in the way I noticed it during my own lunchtime experience, today. She might most likely be approached due to her being a recognizable public figure. I can imagine her privacy being interrupted by someone wanting a photo taken next to her, or wanting her to autograph something. Based on what I know of guy culture, many guys would also want her to then write something that implied an intimacy or affection that never was. With these artifacts, the guy would have bragging rights with his drinking buddies, and loot from having met this girl would have about the same guy-culture credits as having bought a new and expensive shotgun or a new and expensive riding mower.
It’d be nice if she didn’t need to stress out about such things.
One solution would be to choose the table or booth carefully, or to choose restaurants that have a small seating capacity so that the odds of a fawning fan being present are reduced by simple math alone.
Often, the prettiest girls are cerebral shy girls, for reasons I explain in other articles on this blog. So, in dating cerebral shy girls, I also thus sometimes end up in the company of lovely girls who find the riches of modeling, professional club dancing or escorting to be too tempting to refuse for a few years. For example, a few years ago, it gave me a secret smile to know the girl who was my lunch date was also the featured calendar girl at an elegant men’s club in town, and also a brilliant paralegal, and also someone who could pick up a set of mechanic’s tools and fix her own Honda Civic. No surprise, my dates get hit on a lot — by guys at neighboring tables, by waiters, by people at work, etc.
Until recently, I was self-conscious about being a trans girl and I generally focused on having as unobtrusive a social look as I could. It worked. Guys left me alone and instead bothered the girl I was with. That’s how I came to automatically choose restaurants and tables and seating positions that minimize the chances of the girl being bothered by guys — I was being protective and trying to make things as low-stress for my date as possible.
Nowadays I’m finally in the aesthetics category where I get bothered too. I found myself wondering how I’d phrase “eff-off” in a nice way, had the guy approached me today. For me, when I was working as an escort, a stranger hitting on me would be a welcome event, sort of like a gold miner tripping over a rock and discovering it’s a gold nugget. However, even now, if a guy offered me several hundred dollars to be his lunch or dinner date, I’d probably still go, and be pretty and charming besides. In that sense, I suppose I haven’t stopped doing escorting work. I have just not worked as one since 2014 because I no longer seek out opportunities, i.e., my sales & marketing activity is zero. I toyed with the idea of smiling and saying “I’m an escort but I’m not working right now; off duty, at lunch, on my break. So, not now. Not soon either; I have the afternoon off.” That would probably end most advances.
A dancer I dated had this approach. When a guy hit on her, she’d brightly hand out a business card with her club name and dancer name on it, and said “come visit me there” and then look at the guy with an attitude of “that’s that, yes?” He’d typically mumble something and shuffle away.
A professional musician, especially one whose public image is solidly in the “nice girl” quadrant, essentially does her sales and marketing by fostering that image. This includes having her picture taken next to grinning strangers and signing her name on random objects that are placed in front of her. That is, essentially, her working. I wonder if the girl has tried saying “I’m not doing publicity such as pictures and autographs right now; off duty, at lunch, on my break. So, not now. Not soon either; I have the afternoon off, but here’s my card with my website, with autographed products for sale.” As I understand guy culture, that typically would end the lunchtime interruption.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
My guess is that as the guy was walking away, he’d already be planning what he’d email her via her website contact info — an email to which she might or might not ever respond. As a rule, she would be prudent not to.
The black hole protocol (things go in, nothing comes out) is an effective way of handling social media attention from fans. It prevents things from beginning and then escalating, and then finally ending in a way that’s invariably messy.
I have so many times regretted being nice to guys who hit on me. Typically I did so against the weird feeling I had about it, and then things escalated and I had to extricate myself — and by then the guys were emotionally involved and their exits were hardly ever gracious after having been rebuffed. I tend to be very vague as to whereabouts I live, and very few people know my actual address though my official address is easy to find.
The dancer who handed out business cards used to be more approachable too. That rewarded her with a guy, of course, getting a crush on her, her not being interested, and the guy vandalizing her car so badly it ended up being junked even though it was almost new. In another situation, she went on a date with a guy and he did such dumb macho stuff that he ended up starting a fist fight, leaving her unprotected and vulnerable, at which time she was attacked and beaten by others in the same crowd. She was hurt so badly that her parents didn’t even recognize her when they saw her in the hospital bed.
One of my own situations went off the rails not too long ago. I was driving around Sparks, Nevada a few months ago when a guy in another vehicle started following me — blatantly. I turned into obscure but well-populated places, drove in peculiar patterns that somebody would be extremely unlikely to coincidentally also happen to have … and this kept going on and on. I’ve seen the movie “The Peacemakers” and I’m up for defending myself even if it means using my nice car’s butt as a battering ram, but I really didn’t want to do so if it was reasonably avoidable. At some point this sort of vehicular dynamic becomes primal, and that’s when it gets dangerous.
My favorite park in Las Vegas is right by a desert mountain, and there are mountain lions in the vicinity. I’ve been told that were I ever to come face to face with a mountain lion, then if I turn and run, I’m as good as dead. Similarly in this sort of automotive slow-chase dynamic, if I turn, it cedes the primal high ground to the other party. It implies fear and can trigger a “chase the prey” response. So, I resisted the impulse to try to outrun the guy. I just calmly drove on and on, trying to bore the guy into leaving, while avoiding places where I’d be stuck in traffic or where I’d be without lots of onlookers. By then I’d also called a friend so she was well aware of the guy’s description and his truck, in case things needed to escalate.
I knew where the local Police Department was — which wasn’t all that reassuring since many law enforcement facilities are hardly a welcoming safe haven in situations like this. In one case a violent crime was committed literally right outside the local Sheriff’s Office — and the bad guy got away.
In this example, my driving finally bored the guy into leaving, or perhaps he was running low on available time, or fuel. Good …
Adulation from guys is, directly or indirectly, a great source of revenue for many girls, but it needs to be managed very carefully. Privacy is only part of it; it’s also a major safety issue.