Taryn Learns a Lesson Pt. 3

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Down the Mountain

Once I got to Starbucks, ordered my double shot espresso, and had some unrelated banter with the barista I had come to know (we both liked each other’s Dr. Martens boots), I sat down to try and make sense of what happened. I knew that I wasn’t going to get much work done because my nerves were rattled and my mind kept replaying the incident on a continuous loop. But the thing was, I was slated to leave in the morning, it was already 2 pm and I still had a laundry list of things I needed to accomplish. This wasn’t the time to deal with emotions, so naturally, I did what I do best, I disassociated from them and got to planning my next steps.

Getting Clinical

As someone who organically finds feelings to be a nuisance, setting them aside comes very easy for me. Seriously, if you have a crisis (not involving snakes), you’re going to want me around for the tough calls. That and I spent the last few years with an emotional vampire, so not acknowledging my feelings had also become a coping mechanism. Anyway, still ignoring his texts, I planned my exit strategy, deciding to clean and pack up the night before. This sounds practical, but I’m generally one that leaves that stuff to the last minute. But, in this case, I wanted to leave as early as possible because I just wanted to avoid him. As for the goodbye, I decided to pop in, with Abbey in tow, say a quick goodbye and leave. The good thing was he didn’t know where I was going next and I don’t have social media other than a Twitter account that’s collecting dust. After sorting out my things, I went to the store, got cleaning supplies, filled my tank, and went back up the mountain. There, I grabbed Abbey and made my way up to his apartment one last time, unannounced. If he was going to keep intruding on me, I figure I’d return the favor.

Jeepers Creepers

I knock on the door and he yells, “it’s open”. I remember being annoyed because I didn’t have such luxury to leave my door unlocked without feeling unsafe. Anyway, Abbey and I walk in, she begins to create distance between him and myself, of which he blatantly ignores. Before I can barely get out a hello, he hugs me again. This time, I jerked away harder, knowing that Abbey was there should anything get weird.

“I don’t like hugs,” I say firmly, with my arm out creating more distance.

“Ok, ok” he replies with his hands up.

His tone insinuates that I’m overreacting, but I don’t care. I was feeling pretty confident until I saw a white paper on his table. It was just a single white sheet of printing paper, but the only contents written on it was my name. My heart sank down to my shoes. The eeriness of the situation was getting the better of me and I wanted to be done with this. Plus Abbey was picking up on my discomfort and was holding an aggressive stance.

“I just wanted to pop in and say goodbye, so goodbye,” I say trying to not be creeped out by the paper.

“That’s it, you can’t stay? Well, it’s been nice getting to know you. Let’s keep in touch. Do you have an email address. We can write each other,” he says, rushing out the words.

That moment enraged me in the sense that I could tell he was still trying to assert some kind of bonding obligation. One, he doesn’t know me, we had 2 dumb conversations. Two, I always hated how he kept rushing conversation, not leaving anytime to process or think about what he’s saying. Still, the white paper was staring back at me and I just wanted to be done.

So I rattle off my email address and tell him my father is expecting my call. Abbey, who is now on full alert, steps in front of him as he tried to go for another hug. Again, Abbey is the MVP and she will forever get bacon treats from me, but only occasionally because human food makes her believe she’s pack leader and she becomes too cool for her food or obedience. Anyway, we head down to the condo, I turn on the game (Raptors v. Bucks), and get to packing.

You’re probably wondering why I went up to say goodbye. It was to get some distance in interaction. I knew that if I didn’t stop by, he’d probably come to my condor, or manufacture another “random” encounter in the hallway. I just didn’t want to deal with either of those options. Feeling a little better, as there was 12 hours left of me being in this prison, I text my dad and joke about the experience, saying that I’d be free soon enough. He texts me a video of him and my oldest nephew using hover boards. I laugh and the video puts me at ease. I hear a ping from my computer and I realize that it’s my email. I click to view, thinking it might be a client, it was Brett.

I seriously had left his condo 15 minutes prior, so why the need to email, ugh. In there email, there was only one sentence, “I will keep in touch.” I quickly delete it and turn back to the game. I’m not letting him take up any more of my time or space. My phone then buzzes, I pick it up, thinking it’s my dad. Nope, by now I’m sure you’ve guessed it, it was Bret.

“Go Raptors!” It said, which made my blood run cold. I didn’t tell him I was watching the game and his condo is one floor up and on the other side, so there was no way he could hear my television. At this point, I felt so unnerved and destabilized because I couldn’t rationalize my way out of this. I had no logical explanation for the text and I did not want to pontificate why or how he knew what I was doing. I shake off the feeling, block his number from my phone, check to make sure that my front door is locked and dead bolted, and continue with the game.

The Next Morning

I slept horribly, maybe an hour, but when 5 am hit, I jumped out of bed to start the last for chores I had. The place I was staying was an Airbnb and they had made an exception for Abbey, so I wanted to make sure the place was left in pristine condition. Everything was fine, except that every single little noise or closing of a door just sent chills down my spine. It got so bad that Abbey was just as agitated, barking at each noise. She’s not a naturally mouthy dog, but I knew she could tell how uneasy I was. Anyway I finished cleaning, put Abbey in the car, and went back to do one last look over. As I was leaving in the stairwell, I could hear steps behind me, so I quickened my pace. In my rush, I dropped a can of Febreeze, but I was in such a panic, I did not care. I get to my car, and try to hop in and then I hear someone call my name. It was Roger, the caretaker. Feeling like an idiot, I did a neighborly wave. He handed me the air freshener container and wished me well on my travels.

Out of Sight, in my mind

As I made my way down the winding mountain, I could not help but feel a great sense of relief. I call my mom— who had asked for an update on my departure— and I made a few jokes about the experience. I tend to use humor to distill my complex emotions. Logically, I’d never have to see Brett again. But, what I didn’t understand and would later find out, was that emotional processing needed occur before I could put this experience to bed.

To be continued…

Taryn Learns a Lesson Pt. 1

Hi there!

It’s been quiet on my end. Mostly because I’ve been trying how to wrap my head around an experience I had during the last 48 hours of my stay in Brian Head. Long story short, I unwittingly became the object of affection for one creepy ass middle age White guy. (Spoiler alert, this is a profanity-laced post.) Now, I’ve felt a lot of things about this experience, some being shame, guilt, fear, confusion, rage, a lot of pretty lame feelings. Truthfully, I wasn’t going to share it, that is, until he emailed me today, almost 4 weeks after the incident.

What happened

Monday– a week before I was slated to leave Brian Head– Abbey and I decided to go outside and play in the snow. It was May 23, but you’d never know it based on the inches of fresh powder on the ground. Because we were the only ones outside and because Abbey seems to have a penchant for the snow (seriously, she was like a pig in slop), I let her run around off-leash.

Everything was going pretty well. Abbey was having the time of her life, and I was enjoying watching my beloved partner in crime prance around in the snow. That moment changed when I saw some random dude with a dog that I was sort of familiar with. Bruce, the dog, belonged to this weird chick (who I later found out was dating the son of Roger, the condo’s caretaker) that had terrible social skills. Anyway, Abbey was staring at me and the man and Bruce were behind her. Sensing that something was up, Abbey turned around and immediately ran after the guy.

I frantically tried to run after her, screaming for her to stop, but I was calf-deep in fresh powder, so I was going nowhere fast. By the time I caught up to her and the man and Bruce, the man tried to shove Abbey back as she barked at him quite viciously. I should mention that Abbey is generally friendly, so why she behaved so aggressively was beyond me. In hindsight, Abbey saw what I did not, which is precisely why she’s earned all the treats in the world.

Anyway, I mumble out an apology, embarrassed, I scold Abbey and we trudge off to the condo. I really can’t explain why, but the interaction felt off in some way, but since Abbey was technically the offender, I took responsibility. I wish that was the only interaction I had with that dude, but I suppose that would make this story boring.

Caught off guard

Fast forward to Friday, it’s the morning, around 10am. Abbey and I had gotten out late as I had overslept. My plan was to quickly let her out to do her business and then I would shower and become a semi-productive member of society. It was quite sunny and the snow had significantly melted. As Abbey was finishing up, I caught a glimpse of a man in my peripheral vision who was seemingly going to the rec room/laundry facility. He hesitated for a second, but then changed direction and walked my way.

“Hey, you’re Trevor’s friend, right?” He asked. “I saw you in his Truck the other day.”

I was taken aback because, A, I’m literally the only Black person for at least 40 miles, so in my head, the comment didn’t make sense. B, the way he began the interaction was jarring. I can’t really describe it, but it felt forced and inorganic. But, thanks to that old stupid social contract we dumb humans abide by, I go against my better judgment and reply that he must have mistaken me for someone else. Anyway, he offers his name, Brett, and goes on a spiel about himself and how he was writing a memoir on his abusive upbringing.

I should mention that Roger,  had mentioned someone that fit Brett’s description. I think this put my guard down further because it established a sort of familiarity. I immediately put 2 and 2 together and tell him that I had heard about him from Roger. The interaction with the caretaker stuck with me because he had mentioned how shitty the man’s family was and how grateful that he never had such experiences. I had told him that Roger had mentioned him a few weeks ago and Brett had asked if I was staying in the Airbnb condo across from Roger. I said yes, not thinking anything of it. Up until that point, the few people I did meet in Brian Head were quirky, polite, and generally kept to themselves, so I didn’t see the harm.

Maybe I felt pity for the man, or maybe I felt charitable enough to have a conversation with a human, but Brett ended up highjacking an hour and a half of my time. What was supposed to be a 5-minute pee break became a battle of intellect of sorts. See Brett was doing his best to appear impressive and well-read. Very few people can get the jump on me when it comes to mental sparing, so my ego was in full swing. That and he seemed harmless. It also didn’t help that he appeared normal and attractive enough for me to cut him more slack than I would’ve given the circumstances. I mean he was basic White dude attractive, mid-50s, in shape, with steely blue-ish green eyes. Friends, evil comes in the form that we least expect. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so eager to chat, but, there’s no use in crying over spilled milk.

What I appreciated about the conversation was the Brett seemingly was able to keep up (for the most part) and appeared to be somewhat of a critical thinker. We chatted about politics, the world order, how dumb society was, and religion. I outwitted him in all categories (see, dumb ego at its finest) but, I still had considered him a decent debater. He went on to proclaim how dumb it was to believe in God, and in my mind, I thought how dumb he was for not. Still, I believe that everyone has a right to live as they see fit and I told him just as much.

I’m not going to go over the whole entire conversation because it wasn’t really relevant, but I will go over some of his mannerisms and demeanor that raised concerns in my thoughts. For one, there was this underlying aggression in his tone and stance. When he was speaking about things he disagreed with, he’d clench his fist and lean in, closing the distance between us. I remember thinking to myself, “that’s odd, his behavior almost seems menacing. Interesting.” The second flag was that he kept correcting me when I spoke, even though I was right. This annoyed me, but there was something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on about this dude, so I allowed the interaction to continue. I figured, it could make for a great story one day. Boy, was I right.

I tend to have a clinical approach when it comes to interacting with others, disassociating from my emotions to better assess the person I’m engaging with. If I’m being honest, one of the reasons I do this is to find weaknesses or tells to exploit so that I can manipulate the conversation. This isn’t because I’m trying to be evil or manipulative, but rather it helps me ascertain the person’s thought process, how to better converse with them in a manner that is comfortable to them, and best of all, it allows me to hide in plain sight. Admittedly, I keep myself close to the vest, so being able to size up an opponent allows me to mirror their behavior/mannerisms, giving them what they would most likely enjoy in the interaction without me having to be fully present. I know, it sounds very serial-killer of me, but, it is what it is.

Anyway, I was trying to wrap it up, and he kept mentioning that he had to go, but then he’d start on some other diatribe that would last 10 minutes. I remember being annoyed about my time being stolen. Plus Abbey kept sighing every few moments and I knew she wanted to leave. Before going our separate ways he’d mentioned how financially secure he was and asked if I’d like to come up for a beer and chat, to which I politely declined. This type of conversation wasn’t new to me. If I had stock in how many times I get hit on by White dudes his age, I’d never have to work again. Still, my ego was loving this, so leaving him with rejection was fun.

Uninvited Guest

When I got back to the condo, I called my dad and told him of the incident, joking that I had found my sugar daddy. At that point, I didn’t think anything of it as it was just a waste of my time, but nothing major. After getting off the phone with my dad, I heard a knock at my door. Puzzled, I naively answer it. It was Brett standing at my door. 

Slightly annoyed at the intrusion, I step outside to assert some sort of boundary. Before I could say anything, he offers an apology, saying sorry if his comments about God offended me. I was taken aback by his display of sheepishness, especially since I didn’t give any indication of offense when we were talking. At that moment, I felt bad for his feeling bad at his remark, probably because I’ve been known to stick my foot in my mouth, I felt compassion for him. This overrode my sense of feeling that my space was invaded. In other words, it made me drop my guard. 

I accepted the apology and attempted to make him feel better for his comments. Again, in hindsight, it was dumb. He then asked if I’d like to go on a trail with him and Bruce. I say yes, because I like the outdoors and he said this spot was the best. He says to meet up in an hour and went away. At first, I was weirded out but then was reassured that Abbey would be there if anything got weird. So I showered and got ready. Fortunately, my intuition got the better of me, so when he showed up again at my door, I made an excuse about work and that maybe I’d meet him up there. He gives me his number and leaves.

I wish I could say that’s where the story ended, but it doesn’t. A couple of hours roll by and I felt bad for lying about bailing, so to be nice, I wrote a quick text apologizing for flaking and that I hope it was a good trip. He quickly responds that he’s back and that I should come up for coffee and a chat if I was free. I didn’t see the harm in that so I did.

Gaslighting Conversation

So, I go to his condo, (writing this, I’m cringing) knock to which he shouts “it’s open”. I look around and the condo is in pristine condition. I mean it was tidy. He was in the kitchen making food for himself. He offered me some, to which I declined. He then sticks a fork-full of pasta in my direction, insisting that I try it. Begrudgingly I obliged.  Without warning, he then proceeds to run on about his life, the various abuses that he suffered growing up, his shitty parents, his shitty foster dad. It was a lot of personal information to absorb in such a short amount of time that it didn’t seem genuine. In fact, it well like he was reciting a shopping list. I remember feeling annoyed and exasperated thinking “ok dude, you were beaten and sexually assaulted, can we please move on”. 

This went on for about an hour, and I barely got in a word, and when I did, he’d have some thinly-veiled backhanded comment towards it. One that I distinctly remember was him saying, “you seem really guarded like you’re unemotional to protect yourself.” That threw me off because while I am pretty lowkey, I’m able to supply information if the moment calls for it. Seeing as I only met the dude a few hours ago, I didn’t feel the need to share the deepest darkest secrets of my life. Still, even though I didn’t agree with the comment, I felt the need to be agreeable. He’d go on to say things about him being older, which gave him a wiser perspective. His experiences made him smarter than me. At that point, I was over trying to be nice as he was just being an asshole with a smile. As I was preparing to leave, I made an asshole comment about being a magnet for old White dudes his age. He took it as a compliment when I meant it was an insult.

For some reason, I realized that I wasn’t in a situation I could control. I couldn’t help but remember his slightly aggressive demeanor from the morning and it was getting late. Even though I’ve been traveling solo for about 7 months, being with a strange man alone was not smart. After all, it was the off-season and there were only like 5 people staying in the giant condo complex. My instincts kicked in and I phoned a friend, pretending like she called me. I “took” the call and went back down to my apartment thinking that this would be the last I’d see of him. After all, it was Friday evening and I was leaving Monday morning. I figured I’d write off the time wasted. But what I thought was an annoying afternoon became the impetus for the more antagonizing 48 hours of my life.

To be continued…

 

How to be a Creep in Starbucks

I love coffee. I also love staring at attractive men. So what do you get when you put the two together? A very distracted writer, that’s what. I’ve finally perfected my writing routine. I write my rough drafts with a pen and paper without headphones on, it’s quite glorious actually. Once I’m done fleshing out the article, I then open my laptop. You’d be surprised how productive I am lately. Anyway, I’m getting my writing on and this attractive gentleman decides to sit next to me as if he didn’t know his gorgeousness wouldn’t be a distraction. Continue reading “How to be a Creep in Starbucks”