A Brief Glimpse from a Young Woman's Perspective

I lost a friend today.
It was very unfortunate.
At first it was the same as usual
but as we walked to your car
I realized you were a bit too eager to see me.

The usual back pat turned into a stroke
and I found myself frozen
but smiling at you all the same
because you know...
I didn't want to make things weird.

As I chatter to keep my anxiety from showing
you interrupt and ask me about my T-shirt
leering down my rib cage to my belly button.
"Jesus I sing for all that you've done for me,"
you mutter, while I wonder whether you care about that at all.

"Oh, so you go to church?" you ask
and I say, "Yes, I do!"
"That's good!" you say and stroke my back again.
My body tells me to run but I refrain.
I say bye and turn to walk away.

You grab my hand and say,
"How about a hug?"
Before I can reply, you lean in.
Head under mine. I stiffen
but let myself be held.
Chest to breast instead of the usual quick side brush.

"You are nice. You are good.
We help each other," you say smiling.
This time he lets me free
and drives off,
leaving me with the heebie jeebies.

"You are being so irrational!"
"He didn't say anything crude."
"He didn't touch you inappropriately."
"You're fine," you might say.
Or "Well, why were you being so friendly with him?"

But what if I told you that before this incident,
we had hardly had a conversation?
That before today, I had had an uneasy feeling about him?
And avoided him 2 days because of it?
Or that this man was closer to
my dad's age than he was to mine?
And since when is kindness an invitation
for unwanted sexual attention?
And no, I was not "asking for it."
My friends can attest that I had greasy hair,
an oversized shirt, and sweats on.

It had taken me a full year to be comfortable around him.
3 months to smile freely.  6 more to start talking to him.
When I'd learned he had children of his own
and I could be unabashedly myself, it had been nice.
But he, in 6 short minutes, had stripped away
my protective identity as daughter.

So today, I found myself vulnerable.
Reminded that I am young woman.
That I always need to be alert.
For he, no matter how old, is a carnivorous male.
And I was foolish to have considered him a friend.

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