5.12.2010

Grandpa, are you hitting on me?

I decided to stop whining about my unfriendly, exclusive, cliquey ward.  Instead, as Ghandi advised, I would become the change I desired.  I would be a friendly, welcoming person.  I wanted to seek out the new people, loners, and misfits to befriend them.  In January, I saw an older gentleman looking at me in the lobby.  I hadn't seen him before.  I smiled and said hello.  We started talking.

He looked about 60ish, close to my father's age: balding, overweight, bulbous-with-age nose, Utah accent, tan suit with tennis shoes, and no wedding ring.  Clearly, a divorcee. He seemed pleased to talk to me, very eager.  I figured he was lonely.  Though, I did get a certain vibe from him, that little extra eagerness one feels from men who are interested.  It is something slightly aggressive, like they're projecting their energy onto you.  I shrugged it off, surely not.  He was probably excited to talk to someone. 

When I mentioned working on a PhD, and teaching, he asked if I ever needed to supplement my income. Of course!  He knew of a lot of editing type jobs. He could send me some info.  Sure.  I gave him my email.  (I'm not in the habit of giving my phone number to strange men, even at church.)  The next day he emailed with a long list of job postings in D.C.  Full-time jobs I could not take. Nor was I willing to move.  I replied, with a thank you, but no.

He emailed again, this time asking if I was interested in part-time piecemeal editing work. Absolutely. But I forgot to reply.  Meanwhile, we were friendly at church. He sat next to me once. I felt his eagerness again, I didn't enjoy aggressive male energy from a 60 year old.  I avoided sitting with him after that.  A few weeks later, rushing out of church early, I ran into him at the doors.  He stopped me and asked, "You're not leaving already are you? You can't do that."  Trying to be cute, grandpa?  I was in a mood, hence, the leaving early, so I said,  "Oh, yeah? Watch me."  I tried pushing past him when he, ever the eager beaver, said, "Was I wrong to think you needed work?  I wanted to help you.  Plus, I'd like to be your friend because I think you're a nice person." Ugh. That made me feel like a heel, but I had to leave, my anxiety was building.  We didn't speak again after that until I emailed.

Three weeks ago, I remembered his email in which he offered me work.  Had I  forgotten to reply?  I sent an apology for not replying earlier.  He wrote back right away, said he had a job, could I proof-read a report and turn it around by Monday?  It was Friday.  My rent check was about to bounce  so I agreed.   Saturday, he called to ask if he could pick up the report at my house later that night, like 10 or 11?  Umm, no.  First, because I knew I wouldn't be finished until after midnight.  Secondly, just no.  Because I didn't want him in my apartment.  I said we could make the exchange on Sunday.  Sunday morning he called, 'Should he come to my house to pick it up?  Umm, no.

"Would you like to have lunch? I can take you to lunch and you can give me the papers then." What? It's too early in the morning for this. I'm not awake enough to politely reject him.
"Ummm," NO. "I don't. . . that's not. . . I just had a big lunch so I'm not hungry at all.  Why don't I email you the papers? Will that work?"  Meeting is completely unnecessary. Welcome to the 21st century.
"I'd rather not.  Will you be at church?  We could meet there and there's an ice cream shop on the corner, do you want to get some ice cream?"
NoGive it a rest grandpa. "Ummm. . . . It's Sunday. I don't want to do that because of the sabbath. We can meet at church. No need to go anywhere else."
"OK.  Let's meet at church early then.  How's 12:30?"
Half an hour early? How long does it take to give me a check and hand off some papers? Sigh . . .   "OK. That's fine. I'll see you then."

It was weird.  He acted like a man who wanted to date me, or, my sweet old grandfather.  He couldn't possibly think I would date him?  No.  He must have been acting paternally, wanted some company,  was trying to be nice.  How cynical was I to think otherwise? I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Although, he was not my grandfather.  He was a single man.  I'd have to be careful.

We ran into each other at the parking lot elevators.  He gave me the old up-and-down, you-look-fine-enough-to-eat look. And he was none too smooth about it.  Gross! !  He almost completely canceled out all my doubts about his motives.  Maybe he couldn't help it.  But now I knew  I had to be careful with him.  I took the stairs and left him in the elevator.  We sat down in the meeting hall.  He said he would like me to sit with him for church since, "you know, it's no fun being alone at church."  Guilt, much?  Fine. So I stayed in the chair next to him.  He had just given me a check.  But I wondered, for what exactly had he paid  me?

He called later that week to see if I had deposited the check yet.  Then asked, "Do you have plans this weekend?"  Excuse me?  "Um, yes."  pause . . Not your business. . . "I'm going to the movies and a concert."  "Oh. Are, you?  Ok.  Have fun.  See you Sunday."  "Yep. Bye."  Really?

The next week, during testimony meeting, I snuck in late and took a seat in the 3rd row.  Grandpa was sitting in the second row.  Near the end of the meeting he got up to speak. He gave an odd testimony about spiritual experiences. Then, he came back and sat in the chair next to me! He got in my space, turned facing towards me and made me very uncomfortable. I had had enough of that.

As the meeting ended he started chatting at me. A woman walked by and said, "You look pretty today." To which Grandpa added, "Yes. You do look very pretty today. If I were one of your students, I would have a crush on you." Ewww. "Oh. Um. Well, I do have some of those, boys with crushes."  Red Flag! Abort conversation! "Oh, do you really?"  Abort! Do not engage. No eye contact.Yes, I do. Escape now, escape! "Excuse me. I need to stretch my legs."
I walked out even though we still had our doctrine class. I went to the young single adult class instead. I had no more doubts. Grandpa was hitting on me. And if he wasn't, then at the least he was being extremely inappropriate.

He called me one more time after that, but I didn't answer. He did not leave a message. I feel weird about the whole thing, confused. Am I being mean and overly cynical? Regardless, if he makes any more advances, I'll have to say something. I'm not a child to put up with this. I'll just ask, "Are you hitting on me?"

3 comments:

jillmaren said...

eeewwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!

N.F. said...

Oh. My.

There are no words.

And, I have a similar type story about a 60-ish guy who was hitting on me at a dance....he lived in L.A., was calling me because I couldn't think quickly enough on the fly when he asked for my number....

JL said...

Hi NF,
Saying No is really liberating. Men kind of expect anyway. You should practice. But, easier said than done. When you can't get the word No out, give them your email address instead. It's saying no without saying no. They get it. Most of them won't email you.