That Time My "Friend" Got Personal With Himself On My Couch
"Yo, that's foul."
"Obviously, he's done that before and somebody liked it."
"Girl, I would've told his ass to get out my house!"
There was a loud chorus of animated responses that came from the circle of lounge chairs. My friends and I sat on the patio eating, drinking, and discussing my platonic friendship that ended days prior in one, actually several self-satisfying strokes.
You hear variations of a similar story: woman invites man over. Woman uses the restroom. Woman comes out of restroom to find man naked. Woman is shocked. Man is clueless.
It's so absurd a scenario that you're uncomfortably amused and disgusted at the same time. Like, who does that? And why? And how is it that Chris Hansen has never busted ole boy on "To Catch A Predator"? Because this kind of behavior is the ultimate display of perversion, a lack of boundaries and social intelligence, not to mention a display of sexual aggression.
I didn't walk out of a bathroom. I sat on my couch, minding my business, watching "The Office" with my friend. I caught rapid movements in my peripheral vision coming from the other end of the couch. I had my suspicions of what was happening and not because it'd happened before (it hadn't) or because I invited it (nope) or because we had that kind of relationship (I'd never seen his). When you've lived long enough, you know what stuff is even when your sight is limited to your peripherals.
So when I turned to confront the issue, my fear was confirmed. There it was. Pulled out and receiving major strokage from its owner.
The shit was scary. Really scary. When a person you think you know shows you that they're capable of something like this and they're in your home, exposed, you don't know what's next. And that's what's scary. Not knowing what's next. Your safety feels threatened. Because it's violence. Sexual violence.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual violence as "any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person's sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.”
As I told the story, the "OH, HELL NO!"s were plentiful. Despite my friends' I woulduvs: I woulduv pulled a gun, cussed the muthafucka out, done this, and done that, that hypothetical bravado does nothing in the moment. The truth is, you're going to do what the moment calls for in an attempt to be ok.
My immediate goal was to keep myself safe, talk him down (literally), and get him out of my house.
Consistently level-headed in a crisis, I explained to him that he had a fantastic penis (I used clinical words on purpose), and that I was sure a number of women would be happy to play with him, but I wasn't interested. I asked him where was this coming from. He couldn't explain. Then, in a weird mix of shock and strategy, I went back to watching the show hoping that he'd see I was more interested in what Dwight did next than I was in his sausage hostage. He reacted by going harder. I paused to talk to him again.
I gave him more respect and treated him with more dignity than he deserved, especially after grabbing my hand and telling me to hold it, and then mocking me for being "too scared" to do what he asked. I respectfully and firmly declined the offer. I figured shaming him or getting aggressive wouldn't give me the results I wanted--me safe and him gone--so I patiently talked him off the ledge. I was in survival mode.
Apparently, I have a gift for deflation (Shout out to New England) because after a while, the situation softened. I walked him out, went back upstairs to my apartment, and operated for the next 24 hours in a daze. The kind that I imagine people who escape serious harm experience. The realization that you narrowly dodged something life altering.
I'm pretty sure that I didn't handle this the right way because there is no right way. I take solace in getting the result I wanted. I can't and don't take credit for it though. I did what I thought was best in the moment. But he could've been unaffected. My crack at turning him off could've turned him angry.
In the aftermath, I re-evaluated my friendships. I questioned my judgement of people. How did I not see this in him? He seemed so normal. How did I miss it? None of this was to blame myself, but to intensify my awareness.
My friends' outrage--male and female--helped lift the fog. They affirmed that: What happened should've never happened. What he did was egregious. And he deserved a delivery of Texas justice of the double-barreled variety. If it weren't for the fact that none of us have the fortitude to endure prison, they would've been happy to deliver.
To my surprise, after weeks had gone by, my former friend called me. He said he'd been thinking about what happened and wanted to apologize. He offered to take me out for a drink to squash the whole thing. I accepted the apology, but declined the drink.
We're single. We date. We go out. We stay in. We invite others into our space. We often find ourselves in weird scenarios. Yet we hope. We trust. And, occasionally we get thrown curve balls, literal and figurative ones. I walked away unharmed, but for some, that's not the case.
Be vigilant, be safe, and do what you have to do to be ok.
I wish you fun and I wish you safety.
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