It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in Fake Men and Angry Women Land.
Fake Man got himself an honest-to-gosh viral Tweet while Real Me got back a stalker I thought I shook 15 years ago, *plus* I got a private message from a total stranger who thought it was perfectly fine to swoon and ponder over my ability to give him a blow job.
I’m curious, David Thomson from Houston, Texas: What did you think would happen when you sent me that message? Did you think I would be wet in the drawers because some anonymous chump thinks the way to compliment a woman is to tell her that she’d probably be good at gobbling your knob? Were you expecting cyber-sex from a desperate, thankful sperm receptacle? Did you honestly think I’d hop on a plane to show you my prowess in choking on your pubic hair? Sigh!
Or, perhaps you thought I wouldn’t say anything at all, that I’d be embarrassed, or most likely ashamed?
Did you mistakenly think MY part in your tableau was to silently endure ONE MORE asshole reducing my value to sex?
Boy did you think wrong.
Let me be perfectly clear, Dude-Bro David Thomson from Houston Texas: I wouldn’t play your withered skin flute if it was the very last instrument on Earth.
Big Dick and the Twins will NEVER go to the Moist Drive-In Movie. Baloney Pony is not on the Menu. The Crotch Cowboy won’t be riding into the Canyon. Your Disco Stick has no Partner. The Kipper Ripper has nowhere to play Hide-And-Go-Seek. The Flesh Submarine will not be descending into the Cave.
To put it in a way you’re SURE to understand, David Thomson from Houston, Texas: I wouldn’t suck your dick with YOUR mouth.
Have I made myself perfectly clear Brosephus Andronicus?
Now let’s talk about my stalker.
Less than a day after publishing Part 1 of this piece, where I detailed the excessive abuse a woman with an strong opinion gets online, I received a Facebook friend request from a man who stalked me at the turn of the century.
Phred seemed like a harmless enough fellow when I met him at the Denver Press Club some time around 1997, assuming he was a journalist. He wasn’t, though – he was a bus driver hanger-on who had a small amount of money to spend at the then-struggling club.
We were mildly friendly in a club with a few hundred members. I knew he had a thing for me, but I was not interested in him in the least. He asked me out a few times (Okay, MANY times) and each time I declined politely. My built-in true-to-life excuse was that I’d sworn off dating until my son was old enough to go out with friends, himself. I had 2 failed marriages and thought perhaps the best thing to do was re-evaluate my priorities: I knew I only had so many hours in a day to work, sleep and do mom stuff. If I started dating then that time would only be able to come from my son, and I didn’t think that would be fair.
One afternoon, during the summer of 1998 (if memory serves), Phred approached me as I was leaving the Press Club, clutching a fist full of gift certificates for the Denver Broker, a restaurant that passed for swanky back in the day. It was famous for being situated in an old bank vault and for an all-you-can-eat bowl of iced shrimp to start the meal of red meat. It was the epitome of Denver in the mid-80s oil boom, but it was now the late 90’s tech bust and the old lady was a bit frayed at the edges. They tried to offset the lack of upkeep by dimming the lights, but that just made it drearier.
Swag, gift certificates, concert and sports tickets were a stock and trusted non-taxed item in the journalism trade – it’s what made us put up with with endless shit deadlines and asshole bosses. The only thing more certain than the sun rising in the east is that the Press will show up for free food and booze.
“Hey, you wanna go spend some freebie gift certificates with me next week?”
“Umm.. Well… Are other people going to be there? This isn’t a date, right?”
“Will other people be there?”
“It’ll be a party!”
“But, not a date.”
“Not a date. In fact – I can even be the designated driver. I can pick you up after work – I work really close to your condo.”
I was in a rush, and gave him my number so that we could finalize plans.
I was halfway home before the obvious question bubbled to the surface: “How does he know where I live?” I told myself he must have heard me say at some point I had to drive to Golden, and it’s not a big town after all, and I put it out of my mind.
It was a warm afternoon when we went to the Broker a week later. My son was spending the night at his Grandma and Grandpa’s, just a few miles away. Phred showed up about 10 minutes early, and when I answered the intercom instead of buzzing him up he insisted we needed to go NOW! because the cab was waiting.
There were about 14 cabs in the entire city of Denver at the turn of the century, and they all did a loop between the airport and downtown. I don’t think I had ever seen another cab in the foothills of Golden in… well – EVER. I hadn’t ridden in a cab since I lived in New York City 20 years before.
The phrase, “Hurry up – the cab is here,” mentally felt like the ‘Vweeep!!’ of a needle screeching across a record.
It was a ridiculous extravagance for a 15 mile ride downtown (in rush hour) that I never would have agreed to under any circumstance had I known in advance, one that put me in a place where I felt vaguely obliged to him for spending the money I didn’t want and didn’t ask him to spend.
Clearly Phred didn’t think this was a date: It was something much bigger.
I stood outside my building looking at the yellow cab. Every instinct was telling me not to get in that cab. My lizard brain was yelling ‘Run, you fool!!’ I almost turned around, and maybe I would have saved myself a bucket load of stress and fear. Probably not. People like him don’t take no for an answer.
Instead, I bent to the pressure of the cabbie tooting his horn, and allowed myself to be manipulated into feeling bad that Phred would get stuck with the cost of the cab if I backed out. I wouldn’t admit it, but I was nervous and felt like I was being backed into a corner. And on top of all that was the youthful certainty, “I got this. I can control the situation.”
The meal itself was inconsequential, except to say I insisted several times we weren’t out on a date, and he nodded at the middle distance. Do I need to say no-one else was there?
Perhaps the highlight of this intimate tête-à-tête happened between the too-rinsed-to-be-slimy bowl o’ shrimp and the cold prime rib: It was him taking the red linen napkin and blowing his nose into it vigorously, and then handing it to the server. I nearly vomited.
Yes, the meal finally ended. Yes, I straight armed him as he tried to get cuddly in the cab back. And, yes, he was VERY angry I did not invite him up, mentioning all that money he spent that I hadn’t asked him to.
I jingled my keys, and told him I had to pick up my son, and nearly left skid marks on the way out of my own place. I sat in the 7-11 parking lot not knowing if he would still be in front of my building when I got back. I decided to park in front of a different building and took the back way in.
After that things started to get weird.
Just as I got home from work a few days later he called, the hale-and-well-met-fellow, acting like he hadn’t been pissed when I turned him down on our Not-Date. I was relieved he was being jovial and ended the call as soon as I could.
I saw him in the weeks to come at the Press Club, refusing his drink offers and doing my best to avoid him. I voiced my concerns about him to a few of the bartenders. The linen-napkin-as-a-handkerchief story never failed to raise a gorge with loud protestations.
When I continued to avoid him at the club he began to sit in front of my condo, waiting for me to get home, and calling when I turned on the lights. It took me a few week to figure out what was going on. “Damn! He sure has good timing. Why, I just got home and turned on the lights—-Ohhh.”
On a hunch I came home one night and I didn’t turn the lights on for 15 minutes. When I turned them on he called seconds later. He was calling from his cell phone in the lot below me.
I felt sick. He knew my schedule.
I began parking in another lot in the complex, leaving my lights on always, so he would not know when I was coming and going.
He began to call incessantly.
I got caller ID
For months I avoided him and his calls.
Finally, in a fit of pique he stole my Day-Timer calendar out of my latched bag at the Denver Press Club, pretending to find it on the floor just after I’d left. Several people – including the bartender – tried to stop him from removing the book from the club, but he pushed his way out the door. An hour later he left a message on my home phone, “I have your Personal Planner. I guess NOW you’ll have to talk to me and see me in person.”
I went to the police where he lived to report the theft, and they said “the crime didn’t happen here”. I went to the police where I lived and they said ‘It didn’t happen here.” I went to the police in Denver, where it happened, and the rotund desk jockey suggested, “Just go out with him a few times. It’s all he wants. It’s not like he’s hurt you.”
I went to the management at the Denver Press Club, where the club manager, Carmen, said “Eh… It’s a He-Said She-Said thing.” He-Said She-Said? The son-of-a-bitch had my address book, calendar, bits and pieces of writing and my sketches in a book he refused to give back unless I met with him in person – and I HAD IT ON TAPE!!!
I stopped going to the club.
I will only say the situation was resolved nearly a year later when a former club member, who, upon retrieving my Day-Timer, suggested Phred make himself mighty scarce when he saw my car in the lot, and to never ever call me again. It was only when another man ‘claimed’ me (in his mind) that he backed off.
I couldn’t bring myself to touch the thing when my planner was given back to me, and a dear friend bought me a new brown, leather checkbook wallet I have to this day.
It was good for a couple of years. He didn’t call, I never saw him at the club.
Then, one day, just before I left Denver for a decade, I was having dinner and someone sent over a drink. I asked the bartender who my benefactor was and she pointed down the bar to Phred: 5 years older, 40 pounds heavier, and waving like an old friend.
In a rage I leaned over the bar and poured the drink into the service sink, and handed the empty glass to the bartender, all the while giving Phred the stink eye. He looked confused.
In a ball of fury I went up to him and dressed him down at the top of my voice in front of a bar full of people, “I don’t want your drinks or your smiles, you Fucking Freak!! You stalked me nearly 2 years! I had to move! I had to change my fucking phone number because of you, you pathetic psycho! FUCK. OFF. LEAVE ME ALONE!! NEVER, EVER CONTACT ME EVER AGAIN!!!”
You can imagine my delight at finding his friend request after a searing piece about on-line abuse.
That crazy son-of-a-bitch saw that piece about being harassed, and in *his* mind he thought, “Hey – remember that women I got told in no uncertain terms to leave alone? Looks like she could use another aggressive male in her life.”
So – to be clear, Phred Riggs: The next time you see my name on Fabebook scroll past. If you see me at the Denver Press Club – walk on by, asshole, and do not attempt to interact with me. I am not interested in you in any way shape or form. You are crazy, and the shit you did 20 years ago? I will make sure you go to jail if you try half of that shit today. If you ever, ever trespass on my property again you will live to regret it. These are promises I will keep Phred.
While Real Me was getting stalked and offered the treat of a stranger’s One-Eyed Trouser Snake, Fake Man was knocking it out of the park by averaging nearly 30,000 views a day on a week where I only bothered tweeting on 4 days.
In his first month Fake Man garnered 70% of the followers it took Real Me took a year to get. Fake Man says all the things without repercussion that once caught a ration of shit when Real Me said it. Fake Man has not gotten called a name ONCE. Not once.
But, I took it further. I began posting the same things on Fake Man’s twitter account and on Real Me’s Facebook page.
Perhaps you recall this throw away comment from my feed?
Facebook was whole-heartedly ‘Meh’ for Real Me, with 25 likes off 5 shares from my 332 friends.
On the other hand, Twitter fucking LOVED it from Fake Man!
Fake Man got 2,040 likes, 329 re-Tweets, and 84,000 views off of 60 followers.
If you squint real hard you can see the difference in the numbers.
Fake Man saw his Twitter followers raise by 50% in 3 days, and got ridiculous traction for saying ‘Oh, fuck him’ regarding Bernie Sanders possible run in 2020. Really, internet? 71 likes for ‘Oh, Fuck Him’?
It’d be funny if it wasn’t so pitiful.
Do you remember this blast from a few weeks ago?
That meme I made along with 2 comments got 60,000 impressions on Twitter and a total yawn on Facebook.
I’m not saying Facebook should clap hands better – I’m saying Twitter laughs its collective ass off at the jokes they think a man is making. To be certain, not every one-liner I make as Fake Man gets traction on Twitter, but not one post I’ve made on Facebook has achieved anywhere near the traction that Fake Man gets on Twitter daily with the same material – and Fake Man has only ¼ the Twitter followers Real Me does on Facebook. What does that say about how we’re willing to hear things from men that we aren’t from women?
Ever thus it was to the woman who learned it was better to sell my jokes to men and have them be told and laughed at, rather than trying to tell them myself and have most of the crowd look at me like I was showing a dog a card trick.
Now? It’s not so much about anyone laughing.
In the space of 2 years men think it’s okay to shout down a woman – most especially if the man doesn’t know a damn thing about what they’re spouting off upon. It really didn’t used to be that way.
Men have come to believe that demanding and screaming and pretending they are in charge is the same thing as actually being in charge. Their justification for continued abuse is more about the need for rage and control than about anything intellectual.
The worst thing you can do to a man like that is ignore them and make them feel unimportant – unless maybe you laugh at them. Laughing is cause for primal rage.
The day after I published part 1 of this piece I started to have people post to my wall the story of the woman beaten to death in front of her children by her husband on their anniversary, while on a family reunion cruise in Alaska, just 6 hours after the trip got underway. The reason why Daddy brained Mommy with a blunt object, the young child who fled the cabin in mortal fear told the crew? Mommy laughed at Daddy.
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Margaret Attwood
Real Me is keeping screen shots of Real Abuse and plain old dickish behavior that is happening with alarming frequency that I’ll address in Part 3.
Keep Resisting. Please.
It’s the only thing we have.