Often, there is an incongruity between the type of person you tend to be attracted to and the type of person who tends to be attracted to you.
This was certainly true for me when I was a college student in Boston, Massachusetts. As an 18-year-old writing major, I was mostly into full figured, dark haired girls who seemed to dislike me at least a little bit. The type of people who tended to be into me, however, were much more likely to be a middle-aged men trawling the city for male teen prostitutes.
I was one of those kids who didn’t start puberty until the very end of high school. I was an incredibly late bloomer, and to this day, I still look a bit young for my age. In fact, it wasn’t until I turned 27 last winter that my good friend’s Israeli father stopped referring to me as “the boy with the delicate face.” That was a real milestone. But, when I was a freshman in college, I looked like a 14-year-old, and, apparently, that is exactly what older, lonely Bostonian men were interested in.
Once, walking home from a party, I was followed for 10 blocks by a mid-40’s man in a denim jacket who, upon catching up with me, promised to make it "worth my while" if I came back to his house in Dorchester. Another time, when I was on my way to rent a video, a clearly-not-French man who introduced himself as "Jean-Baptiste" pleaded with me to have dinner with him as he attempted to hold my hand. But my most unpleasant and scary experience being propositioned didn’t actually happen until I was a 21-year-old junior.
I had just moved into an apartment that required me to walk through a park called "The Fens" to get home. If you have ever lived in Boston, you might remember The Fens as being the most "rapey" park in the city. I had been warned many times about it, but my apartment was cheap and I was naively fearless.
One night, I was coming home late. As I approached the entrance to the park, I saw a very large man wearing all black and holding an open umbrella. It was not raining. He called out to me, “Hey do you know how to get to Fenway Park?” The thing is… from that part of Boston, you can see Fenway Park. But instead of saying, “Yeah, it’s right where those enormous lights are,” I enthusiastically blurted out “Sure, follow me! It’s right through here!” Jesus Christ, me.
The large man wearing all black followed me into the park. He asked me a couple of questions about myself and I answered that I was a college student who was interested in comedy writing. He then said, “Oh, you like comedy?! Well, I have a joke!” Then he sat down on a bench. That meant that we were going to be there for a while.
Not wanting to be rude (note the theme, here) I stood there as he began his joke, which I want to warn you right now was not a joke so much as a long rambling pornographic horror story meant to somehow coerce me into aggressive weird park sex.
He began, "So, basically…"
It’s important to note here that no joke starts with "basically." If you take one thing away from reading this, let it be that. Anyway, he went on. "So, basically, there’s this guy, right? And his car breaks down. So he starts walking, and eventually he finds this farmhouse. He knocks on the door, and when a guy answers, he says, 'My car broke down. Can I use your phone?' And the other guy goes, 'Sure, but you gotta blow my horse.'"
Already this seemed like a highly unlikely story. If you were in that situation, you would probably just, like… not blow the horse. That’s a really bad trade: a phone call for blowing a horse. Just find another farmhouse, guy!
But in this guy’s “joke,” the guy was INTO IT!
“Yeah, alright!” the guy says. So, the farmer guy takes him back to the barn where he’s got his horse. So, now they’re in this barn, and the guy just starts going to town on the horse. Like, he is really, really going down on that horse. And the farmer guy is getting into, right? So, then he’s like, “I gotta get in on THIS!” And he starts blowing the guy who’s blowing the horse!
By this point in the “joke,” it had become blaringly apparent that I was in a real bad situation. And, by the way, I’ve abridged this for you just to be nice! In real life, this was a whole overtly offensive 10-minute set up. But, eventually, after lengthy descriptions of how effectively a man was blowing another man who was also very effectively blowing a horse, there was a twist.
A woman comes in! What?! What woman?! No woman would ever walk into a situation like that. If a woman hears gay oral sex sounds and a horse in a barn, she’s not going in there. That’s one of about five things I’m confident I know for sure about women.
Obviously, in this guy’s “joke,” realism was not a main focus. So, the woman is in there and she sees this guy sucking off this guy who’s blowing the horse, and she’s like “Whoa!” And then she starts blowing the farm guy! The man wearing all black went on about that blowjob for a while as I tried to devise a plan to extricate myself from the situation. Somehow, just walking briskly away did not occur to me.
I need to stand up for myself and be assertive, I thought.
“Yeah, what’s the punch line?!” I petulantly interrupted. That was me being assertive.
He paused and looked me in the eye. And I’m horrified to tell you this next part because it is so uncomfortable and embarrassing, but as he looked me in the eye, he said this: "This punch line is… Can I suck your dick?"
OK. And here is where I was furious. I was mad at the man, and I was even madder at myself for letting myself get into that situation. I turned and began walking away.
But, then, he called after me. "Well, can I see it?!"
"Nooooooooo!" I yelled over my shoulder. It was like "no" was the only word my brain could even formulate. Then he called after me AGAIN.
"Well, is it big?!"
"NOOOOOOOO!" I shouted.
Look, in this case, the right thing to do is to scream "NO!" and run. But, immediately, I realized what had just happened. Not only had I been lasciviously propositioned, but now I had also accidentally yelled out loud to a whole park that my dick wasn’t big. And there’s not really anything you can do in that situation to redeem yourself. You can’t turn around and then say, “I mean…. It’s fine! It’s regular!”
That certainly wouldn’t be helpful. So, I just walked the rest of the way home with a newfound, smoldering anger. I had been objectified, harassed, and humiliated.
Fortunately, as each year goes by, I have begun to age a little and become better about not being polite to strange men who assume they can pay to blow me. These types of encounters become less frequent, but I definitely err on the side of being paranoid of public parks and anybody carrying an unnecessary umbrella.