Hey Tinder Date, The Answer To “Stop” Is Not “Why”

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Trying to see pink instead of red this morning.

A man stuck his finger in my armpit last night and I need to talk about it.

I was on a Tinder date (of course, they are nothing if not a renewable resource of documentable disgust), and it was a second date, so he was certainly still in the evaluatory period. Between the first date and the second there was something about him I couldn’t nail (pun intended), and at the end of last night’s meeting I figured out what it was: This patronizing fucker…

I could give lots of examples, but I want you to go on about your Sunday morning, so here’s just one. I wasn’t being particularly warm on this date, I say this because I know someone (a manspreader) will make it to the bottom and think, “hey, maybe he thought it was cool, you were on a date, maybe he thought you were into him.” So lets pre-empt that comment right there, shush.

I was not into him, nor was I giving off that impression. Mid-dinner, he got up to go to the bathroom, requiring him to walk behind me at the bar, and as he passed, he tickled me, really high up at my bra line. I shoved his hand away. He did it again. I shoved his hand away. He did it again.

“Stop doing that!”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t like it!”

He laughed, he fucking laughed, and went to the bathroom. I was seething. I didn’t want his thick hands grabbing at me and I certainly didn’t want them grabbing at me while he imagined I liked it. While he imagined he was being playful and flirtatious. If you do something, I say don’t do that again, you have two responsibilities: First, don’t fucking do it again, and second, don’t make me defend my request.

I thought the firmness of my response would have been enough, but when he came back from the bathroom, this animal stuck his finger in my armpit. He thought he was being cute, thought he’d try to tickle me one more time, you know, just for grins.

“STOP. Do not do that again.”

“Why?”

“I don’t like that.”

“Why?”

Here’s where he can go eat a dick. Why. His sense of entitlement was so encompassing that he thought not only did he have business grabbing and poking at me, but he also thought he deserved a satisfying validation as to why he no longer could.

I should not have had to satisfy him with an answer that made sense in his head. An answer that made him feel sorry for me so he’d finally show an ounce of respect. I don’t have some kind of abusive tickle history in my past, nor should I have to invent one so that he’d be satiated with the “why” and just stop. I just didn’t like it, and I didn’t want him to keep touching me that way, or any way.

While I’m on the topic, I have some whys for him.

  1. Why do you think it’s okay to paw at a woman you barely know, who is showing zero interesting in a) touching, or b) you at any point in the evening?
  2. Why is it funny when a woman tells you to stop doing something she finds annoying, invasive, or fucking gross?
  3. Why do you keep pressing a woman for answers until she says one you deem acceptable?
  4. Why do you think the appropriate answer to “stop” is “why?”

After that I delivered an Emmy award-worthy stomach ache performance and went home, because for some reason I’m still too scared or shy to end a date by just getting up and walking away. I knew from our previous interactions if he didn’t approve of my reasoning I’d have to explain why I wanted to go home and I didn’t have the dating energy left to go another round with yet another failed date. Also this is Brooklyn, I can’t just hop in my car and escape, and waiting for Timothy your Lyft driver outside for 7 minutes allows way too much window for further interaction.

In truth, the thing that upset me the most wasn’t the why. It was the laughter. It was the “Oh, women. Aren’t they so cute when they’re angry?” chortle that made me want to smash my wine glass in his eye. Not only as if I’m amusement, but also that when I say I don’t like something, me, the silly woman, has no idea what she’s talking about. He should show me how silly I’m being, right? Die.

I do know what I’m talking about. And I know how to write about it, too. This isn’t isolated bad behavior. It’s cultural, it’s societal, and it’s bullshit. It’s 2018, I’m 35 years old, and I’m still dealing with nothing but disappointing-to-infuriating dates who think it’s cute when a woman gets mad, she doesn’t really mean it when she says stop, and if she doesn’t like something about a man, she has to explain herself. And I have no idea why.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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