It’s not pleasant, feeling cornered

The idea that we should be grateful for all attention is utter nonsense
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The Independent Online

It perhaps tells you a lot about the past week of my life if I say that between an emergency root-canal treatment and my run-ins with men, the former was the more pleasing. Not all attention, I've come to understand, is good attention.

Take last Thursday. After a relatively civilised evening that started at a book launch and ended in Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn, I met a guy. Or should I say, a guy met me. I'd said my farewells to my pals and was having a fag on the cobbles outside before attempting to hail a cab. A bloke appeared from inside and, after giving me a sultry stare for a while, and then gushing over my painted finger nails, bummed a rollie off me. This amused me momentarily because he had introduced himself as a cardiologist.

Anyway, after the humiliation of having to get me to roll it for him, he humiliated himself further with his line of chat. After no more than 2.5 minutes of small talk (centering mainly around my purple nails), he asked me to stay with him at the hotel. I didn't even know his name.

I have to say, I was shocked. And I'm not exactly a prude. I'm also not averse to taking the odd risk when it comes to romance, but this? Really? Probably because I was quite shocked, I had to explain to him why I wasn't intending to spend the night with my companion of, now, 4.5 minutes.

"I've got a physio appointment in the morning."

I can laugh at that response now – but, really, how lame does it sound? Yes, if I wasn't receiving regular treatment for a trapped nerve in my neck, I would most definitely be in the elevator with you right now.

The real question, though, was why couldn't I just tell him to fuck off, which is what he deserved? Why be polite? I did attempt to call him on his behaviour by telling him I thought he was very bold. But, of course, he took that as a compliment. He persisted some more, to the point of starting to feel more like a threat than an annoyance, at which point I opted to revert to the bar and my friends so that they could chaperone me to a cab. I needed back-up.

It's not pleasant feeling cornered in that way. Then I had a similar-but-different situation a couple of days later with a married friend who temporarily forgot he was married. Attention very much unwanted.

It was last week that the video of a woman wandering around Manhattan getting consistently catcalled went viral, too, so it feels topical (when is it ever not?). She wanted to prove a point about how prevalent this kind of harassment is. Because that's what it is: harassment. The idea that all attention is good attention, that we should be grateful for it, flattered by it, is utter nonsense. And how does it leave me feeling? Sad, actually. And ever so slightly jaded.