At first glance, presumably consensual, flirtatious shenanigans acted out in a public forum littered with minor glitz might seem banal. The perp, no matter the level of his celebrity, is equipped with a power differential to leverage. Which he did. His target complies. Until she doesn’t.
You’re supposed to be flattered. It’s supposed to be a thrill to be noticed, to be seen, touched—especially by a celebrity, one with such visibility and intellect and particular fame.
A momentary thrill. Is that the goal?
Just like that.
You’re deep into the flirtation and it starts to get weird. It was already weird.
But you can’t back out now. Back off, back down. Back side, baby.
And you can’t cause a scene.
And you can’t speak out.
And you can’t upset your friends or ruin the evening.
You certainly can’t make everyone else feel uncomfortable.
What will they think?
What will they say?
They will laugh.
You are such a delicate flower.
Such an amateur.
Get over it. Get over yourself.
Don’t ruin the night magic.
He’s lauding you with compliments.
He’s telling you that you remind him of his first love. Of his only love.
He’s telling you that you remind him of himself.
Of his soul mate. You are his soul mate. He can see into your soul.
Feel that? Right now? Like nothing else, ever. You agree, yes?
He’s looking deep into your eyes. He’s rubbing your back and ass.
He’s grabbing your leg. He’s sticking his tongue into your ear.
Now he’s on his knees tugging at and then ripping your (favorite) fishnets.
It’s. So. Funny.
No one notices.
No one in their right mind would be jealous.
You were wearing fishnets. (Favorites!)
You were propelling sexy French chansons his way, looking directly into his eyes, singing your heart out, singing for your supper.
Singing to be seen.
You thought he was rapt. He was probably rapt. For a split second.
You were part of the seduction. You egged him on. You let it happen.
You didn’t rebuke his attentions. They were kind attentions.
He was kind.
He was kind of creepy.
He was kind of horny.
He was kind of …
He was not kind.
It was kind of awful.
You were not really present.
You drifted and then it happened.
It became a problem.
It became a huge problem.
Even though he’s not a huge celebrity, and you’re not a huge presence, everything surrounding this became huge. And ugly.
You let it happen. You encouraged until you didn’t.
And then you froze.
You disassociate that way sometimes.
Most of the time. All the time.
Back to attention.
Back to THE attention.
THE ONLY ATTENTION.
It’s nice to be seen. Isn’t it?
It’s nice to be seen by a person of interest. Of intrigue. Of certain celebrity.
The glitter rubs off a bit. Doesn’t it? Right before the sparkle completely disintegrates.
It’s not at all in any way shape or form nice to be viewed, inspected, fondled.
Not taken seriously.
Even if you were taken thusly, you won’t be heard.
You’ll be looked at, but not seen.
You can’t be heard.
You don’t have a voice.
You are smart and pretty and talented but silent.
The stoic one. The classy one.
You must remain silent.
You must remain complicit.
You won’t tell anyone.
It’s too embarrassing. Too complicated. Too stupid for words.
He’s moved on to every other person in the room.
Also on The Big Smoke
- On Taking Up Space
- #MeToo*: What Do We Want Men to Actually Do?
- This Is How You Apologize, Morgan Spurlock