I belong to a group of professional women writers, artists, poets and musicians. Although we are all professionals there are still some creeps among us.
During one meeting I noticed a woman looking at me intently. People often look at us when they think we are not looking so I paid her no mind. Several minutes later I noticed that she was still looking at me with an odd smile on her face. Later she mentioned how much she admired my hair. I did as I always do. I smiled at her and said, “Thank you.” I thought that was the end of it.
At the next meeting she did the same thing. She went on and on about my hair and my hats. It started to get awkward.
To get to the meetings I ride with a woman who picks several of us up, including this particular creepy member. One day I got into the car and she reached out and pulled my hair. I had to clamp my mouth shut. When we got out of the car she told me she liked pulling my hair and was going to pull it again. She walked toward me and I told her that would not be a good idea. She turned and walked away. I thought she got the message.
But the next meeting there she was glaring at me again. She made a bee line toward me and touched my hair again. This happened at almost every meeting. I kept letting her know subtly to keep her hands to herself. She seemed to acknowledge this by saying after she had her feel that maybe she shouldn’t have done that.
Once at a friend’s birthday party she walked up behind me and grabbed my hair. My friend and I glared at her and she acknowledged once again that maybe she shouldn’t do that. Once again I tried to be subtle in letting her know to keep her hands to herself.
Our last meeting was the last straw. She watched me intently for a while. I watched her also out of the corner of my eye. I kept her in my line of sight the whole time. We went to lunch in a restaurant and she excused herself to go to the bathroom. She once again came up behind me. I turned to her to see what she would do. She only touched my shoulder, then went back to her seat.
I thought about this. I thought perhaps it was okay for her to touch my arm but not my hair. It certainly is alright for the other members to greet me, hug me, shake my hand or put their hands on my arm while talking. None of them creep me out the way this woman does.
I keep asking myself; should I single her out? Am I being too paranoid? Do I want to play the bad guy? Should I go with my gut?
I have decided to go with my feelings. She will be told to keep her hands to herself from now on. This brings about another set of questions. Should I turn on her and scare the hell out of her? Should I embarrass her? Should I take her aside? Should I let her know quickly but quietly that she is out of bounds? Should I let her know how her actions make me feel or should I just tell her to back off? I keep rehearsing this scenario over and over. She is a very old woman and I am sure means no harm. But she must be bridled. I think for now it’s best to be quick and to the point.
“(her name) I have asked you not to touch my hair several times. Please keep your hands to yourself. Thank you.”
That may be the script I will use. If that doesn’t work, then I will use stronger and louder words. Either way she is going to have to change her rude behavior, whether she likes it or not.