IMG_2090You cannot be a woman in this world and not be perpetrated on by creepy guys at least a few dozen times in your life.

Becoming a working musician has increased my chances of encountering at least one every time we play out. At one of our last shows, a pock-faced bald man wearing a burnt orange sweater that was being severely tested by his big belly sat on the barstool closest to us and watched as we set up. A dour-looking woman in big glasses and hair the same color as her skin sat next to him.

“What’s that a tattoo of?” he hollered at me after a while. Since our trumpet player had been talking to him and didn’t look unhappy about it, I joined them.

“It’s based on a piece of art I have at home,” I said.

“You any good?” he fired next.

“Yeah. We’re good.”

“I mean you.”

Our trumpet player excused herself. I told him that for taking up the alto sax a year ago after not having played it since I was a teenager, I was doing all right.

“I’ll know right away if you’re good or not,” he said, “and I’ll let you know.”

“You don’t have to bother, ” I said. And I left.

During our first set the dance floor fills up but the pock-faced man and dour woman sit there like big rocks. Every time I happen to look over where he is, he’s looking at me, hard.

As soon as the set ends he makes a beeline for me.

“Do you ever correct your husband?” he asks.

Odd question but I decide to treat it as a joke. “All the time,” I say. Our tenor sax player laughs. Pock-faced man doesn’t think it’s funny.

“You,” he says sternly, “corrected the band seven times.”

I don’t even know what this means, nor do I want to.

“You know what?” I say, “I need you to stop talking to me.”

He looks me up and down. “I have 50k to spend on music next year,” he says, “and your band is out.”

“I wouldn’t work for you anyway,” I tell him.

Two of my bandmates come to my rescue. The creepy guy alternates between chatting up our drummer and throwing me looks. By the time Set 2 starts, he and the dour woman are gone. Our soundman, who knows everyone in the music scene, has no idea who he is.

Up until we started playing out in August, it had been many years since the time I hung out at live music clubs in The Flats in downtown Cleveland, where some of my earliest encounters with creepy guys began. After one of them grabbed my behind on my way to the ladies’ room, I spun around and yelled at him. By the look on his face, he wasn’t expecting it.

This incident seems tame compared to everything I’ve encountered since then. I’m sorry to say that some of it has been pretty dire. There was the marketing communications manager I’d never met whom I was waiting for in the lobby of the company headquarters. I was expecting him to come down in the elevator like everybody else; instead he flew in the front door breathless, in an overcoat, and said, “You Robin? Come with me.”

A few minutes later I was riding in a car with a man whose ID I wished to God I’d asked to see before jumping into his vehicle. I prayed real hard that it was really the employee parking garage he was taking me to.

There was the man from several lifetimes ago whom I met at the airport during a layover. He had been lovely in writing. In person, however, there was a vacancy that was disturbing. As I boarded my next plane, I turned and waved. He was facing the wall, talking to himself.

There was the old friend who picked me up for dinner during a visit to Cleveland who refused tell me where we were going. A half hour later we were crossing the long bridge that links Cleveland’s East and West Sides. In the middle of it he tells me he researched thirty-four restaurants before choosing the absolutely perfect one. For a second I considered jumping out of the moving vehicle and off the bridge.

There’s the guy who used to work in your office, whom you considered strictly a friend, who invites you to lunch to “catch up” and then plays footsie with you under the table. The one on the plane who doesn’t stop when you do and rams his briefcase halfway up your skirt, who instead of apologizing, smirks and says, “Don’t worry. I didn’t see anything.” The guy who makes sexist remarks to your face and expects you to laugh too.

The family members who do these things to their own kin.

Last week, out of the Facebook wilderness came this cry: “Mother bleeeeep!! Creepy Guy is at Panera. WHY?!”

It was one of my writer friends, who’d gone there to get some coffee and some work done. It reminded me of the time I went to the diner to grade papers and a foot fetishist slipped into the booth across from me. “Mother bleeeeep,” I told him after I finally caught on fifteen minutes later, “get the bleeeeep away from me.”

The waitress stifled a yawn and said, “Oh yeah, I saw that. He’s in here all the time.” Sometimes women are creeps too.

One of the things that kills me about creepy guys, even after so many years of dealing with them, is their stealth way of perpetrating on you. You can believe you’re prepared for it, but you are never one hundred-percent prepared for it. They have a way of seeming innocuous at first, safe enough to sit kitty-corner from at Panera. But then they say something, do something that makes you feel like a sucker. Again.

That may be the creepiest thing of all.
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9 Comments

  1. Geez gross… well written from your POV. Don’t think creeping is all perpetrated on women. As a career performer I’ve suffered at the hands of stalky women trying my best to tell them to get a life with out being an a-hole as a public persona. Very difficult balancing act indeed. Tho the physical threat women feel may not be there for me the invasive creepy feeling is none less. That look or stare at you and they are never really acknowledging anything else but you personally…. yeah yikes it’s horrible. Showing up time after time trying to engage you with that “you will be mine or nobodies” look in their eye. I’m real good at seeing peeps in a crowd and have quick thinking escape measures for post performance whack jobs but it’s taken me years to hone those skills. PEOPLE…. know your boundaries and get a f-ing life! Compelling reading….but uncomfortable.

    • Thanks, John. I do not deny that there are creepy women. I’ve encountered a few myself, some of them recently too. Sounds like you and I’ve shared the same experiences, and that we could probably change the he’s into she’s and it would still read fine. I haven’t thought it all the way through from the male perspective, but from my female POV it feels like control…lack of respect…in some cases sociopathy…misogyny…and personality disorders such as narcissism. My guy at the gig felt like a misogynist and narcissist. I think what he took for my “correcting the band” were cues to our drummer to end certain songs–a deal we made with each other in practice. Most of the women I’ve ever had problems with suffer these things too, with the extra-added bonus of competitiveness and jealousy. I’m sorry you have to deal with that, btw, and completely understand.

      • Thanx, yes it’s no fun on the receiving end no matter what your sex. Geez the guy at your gig sounded really bad…. like “I have 50K anfd you’re out? = “You’ll never work in this town again Baby! Hahahah are you kidding???Self flattery from some toad who obviously gets none unsolicited…. boy narcissist for sure. All I can say Robin is in the music or entertainment business….. it comes with the territory…. even for dog show guys. :)

  2. Male Creeps. Female creeps. Crazy creeps who kill 20 children at an elementary school. It seems we cannot avoid them. I am at this moment simply hoping to survive them, although this may involve never leaving the house again. Which would turn me into another sort of creepy person…

  3. Might I suggest doing a Pete Townsend move with a cheap guitar upside the head next time, just saying :-)

  4. I’ve had my share…sorry to hear about yours.
    I was waiting at a bar for my roommate to get off work (she was the bartender) when some guy (older, fat, balding) decides that I’m there looking for HIM. He hits on me…not even subtle, or taking any time, just straight out ….and I tell him, “I’m frigid. You should find someone who will enjoy your efforts…” He gives me the strangest look…but goes away, which is what I want…
    Unbeknownst to me, the drummer from the band was behind us and listening in. He thinks it the best comeback he’s ever heard. We end up talking…and eventually going out to breakfast.
    Creeps abound; glad that your bandmembers back you up….

  5. Thanks, Linda; I’m glad the drummer was there for you too. My bandmates are learning I have no patience when it comes to crapola (who does, really), so, yes, it’s really nice to have the backup. That same night, our lead singer’s husband offered to be our security after our tenor sax player took off her very high heels halfway through our last set, put them back on when the set ended, and some guy came up to her and asked her to take them off again. Miguel said, “All you have to do is make eye contact and raise a finger, and I’ll be there.” You are the queen of snappy comebacks. Quite brilliant of you.

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