personal

entitlement + gratitude to the marine corps

When I was young my mother had the Safety Kids cassette tapes. I learned about not talking to strangers and having my own safety bubble (personal space). Something I also learned what to trust my gut and to take note (and act) when I felt unsafe. Nothing prepared me for two nights ago.

It was just supposed to be a night out to see a show. My friends and I had tickets to the Turnpike Troubadours. One of them knew the opener, but that act cancelled last minute and we opted to see venture out to Silver Springs, MD and see live music. The band falls into the country music realm, which isn’t my typical scene. I rarely go to concerts these days and when I do, it’s alternative rock.

We had just gotten through security (we got patted down) and I was getting a 21+ wristband just in case when I stood waiting for my friends. A drunk male stranger walked up and said, “I think I’m in love with you.” I laughed because of the absurdity of it and asked why. Not that this happens often, but when you are 32 and have had a life of barhopping from college, I just tend to go with the flow. He was nice looking, light brown hair, a few inches taller than I am, probably around my age, and a little geeky looking. If he had a good profile on an online dating site, perhaps I would have even swiped right. Now, this is where I made my mistake. I should have said, “Thank you, but I’m not interested.”

Instead I made small talk, nothing in my actions were flirty and my friends and I quickly attempted to head into the show without the guy. He didn’t take the hint, most do.

Knowing I wanted to lose this dude, I led my friends to the side and got into the crowd. The opener was playing so people were chatting and they sounded pretty good. The guy found us and started chatting. I felt uncomfortable and disengaged. As we tried to not talk to him, I spoke loud enough that the group of men in front of us heard part of it. I made eye contact with one of them and he picked up that I was uncomfortable.

This man came over and started to chat, I told him what had happened and how he couldn’t take the hint. Soon his other friends came over and chatted. They were a group of newly minted Marine Corp officers and they made me feel safe. The drunk guy still didn’t get we didn’t want to talk to him and at this point I would even look at him. My friends were champs and tried to deflect. Finally I told one of my new Marine friends that the drunk guy needed to leave. He very nicely pulled the guy away and said, they aren’t interested and to please go away. Drunk guy still didn’t get it and finally left. At this point there were six Marines around and they were fun to chat with.

The show started and the Marines danced and it was incredible to see the bond they shared after 6 months of training. My friends and I were enjoying the music, when drunk guy literally started circling us. It felt like being prey.

I felt (and still feel) so incredibly violated. We had asked him not to talk with us, one of my friends flatly told him to go away. A Marine had nicely said, you need to leave them alone, yet this guy wouldn’t let up. If we hadn’t befriend the Marines we would have had to leave. At one point I was close to calling security. Maybe that was my mistake. Just because someone hasn’t said anything inappropriate or touched you in any way, doesn’t mean they haven’t violated you.

My friends and the Marines would pull me to the other side or dance with me. I really enjoyed the band, shocking given my intense hatred of country music, but by the end I felt like crying because the drunk guy wouldn’t leave us alone.

By the time the show ended, I hugged the Marines and thanked them for making me feel safe. (I also told them I would be praying for their safety as they got their assignments.) As my friends and I left we were hyper vigilant walking to the car. It was outside where I lost it and cried. I just wanted to go home and be safe at home with my dog, Leo.

In the car we talked about what gave someone the nerve to feel so entitled. It hit the note of how I have started dating and have had a few not so great encounters with “nice” men. Being nice doesn’t entitle you to anything and real nice men should know that.

Forty-eight hours later, I still feel uncomfortable. As I write this out, I wish I had just said, hell no from the get-go, but no, my society conditioning of being nice and polite won. It will not win again because I never want to feel that way again. That drunk guy wasn’t going to learn a lesson.

Male entitlement is real and it can be really scary.

1 comment on “entitlement + gratitude to the marine corps

  1. I’m so sorry, Irene! No one deserves to be treated like prey.

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