Don’t stand so close to me


We have ALL been there. The crazy guy who hovers too close, the strange girl whose body brushes up against yours despite the lack of movement… It’s not quite sexual harassment, but it’s unwanted attention and it’s difficult to police.

But what if YOU’re the unwanted attention and you just haven’t realised?

I got thinking tonight: inspired by a conversation with a nice young man and a glimpse of myself in the glass darkly. What if I am simply not good looking enough to be engaging with this conversation? Harsh, but perhaps true.

The very people who make you feel uncomfortable now could have been the handsome people that flirted effortlessly 30 years ago. Maybe someone moved here from abroad, where chatting on public transport is an MO not an OMG. On one level a conversation on a bus is a transient thing, defined by little more than proximity and an instinct to share mindless chatter. On another, usually British, level, if someone is trying to talk to you on a bus then they must have an ulterior motive.

It is disconcerting to realise that you are that human being with an ulterior motive. Worse when you see how blatant and unsubtle you are about it. Tonight I met a nice guy and we chatted and at some point down the line he took my number, but the over-riding sensation for me is that I may be that person you avoid. It is so hard to know when you are that person whether your advances are welcome or not. I’m sure that many of the creepy men who make moments on an evening commute so unbearable don’t realise their advances are frankly repulsive.

At some point someone should have said: don’t stand so close to me.


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