Sunday, July 10, 2005

And stop calling me "babe"

Sometimes I feel that no matter what bizarre situations life may throw at me, years of contra, swing and ballroom dancing will have prepared me. For some reason, men (especially old men) at dances consider it their godgiven right to make overtures at any female they please. Of all the strange men who gravitate towards the dance scene, over the past weeks I've met the strangest yet: Howard. His shirts are so thin you can see the liver spots on his chest through the cloth. He has absolutely the worst sense of rhythm I have ever encountered, which makes it impossible at times to even tell which dance he's trying to do. Among his charming lines to me have been: "You can eat later. You're getting fat, anyway," "Can I squeeze your hand?" "I'm drunk," and "You're my favorite babe." I'm almost certain he meant "You're my favorite, babe," but he didn't pronounce the comma.

I consider it the right thing to do to be nice to strange old men and generally clueless people at dances, provided they're not being creepy. Whitehaired men with kneebraces and the like are often there because they've been doing it forever and really love dancing, and it's nice to see some of the clueless ones develop into good dancers. The problem is that once someone has crossed the line into creepiness I find it impossible to say, "Shove off, you weirdo! You're old enough to be my grandfather! And no, you can't squeeze my hand!"

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