The smell of vulnerability

I was visiting a friend in Chicago last July, but while he was at work I decided to explore the city. I was sitting on a bench in Chinatown, reading a paper, when this old man comes up to me. I move my things so he can sit. I was 20 at the time. I have dark brown skin, dark curly hair, and was wearing an orange tank, brown flip-flops, and baggy khakis slightly above the knee.

He starts talking to me, and even though I felt something strange, I ignored it. After all, you’re supposed to be respectful of elders, right? He keeps chatting, and I nod and answer his questions and keep trying to read my paper. He asks if I live here. He puts his arm around me. I freeze. And now I know something’s wrong. He asks me how tall I am and I tell him, then he says “I don’t believe you stand up.” So I do, and he stands up and hugs me. He tries to kiss me but I turn my head so it lands on my cheek, and then he presses himself against me and I can feel him. His hands slide down my waist to my ass and I try to push him away, but my brain’s gone all fuzzy and he won’t let go and I’m frozen. I look around to see if anyone’s coming to help- it’s the middle of the day, and there are people all around me. But no one seems to know what’s going on. He’s laughing and I finally manage to get him off me, but not before his fingers brush my breast and I grab his hand and turn it into a handshake. He acts like nothing happened, laughs again, and asks if we met again would I say hello to him. I just want him to go away, so I sit down and stare at the ground and nod. He says “I’m leaving now. I’ll be at so-and-so place, then I’ll head home. It’s going to rain soon. You should go inside.” Then he leaves, looking behind him and waiting like he expects me to follow. As soon as he turns the corner it pours. I call my friend and insist he comes to get me, but he can’t get to me for another hour, so I am forced to wait in the train station, sobbing, while four other random men corner me and attempt to get my number. Apparently creeps can smell vulnerability.

Submitted by Miga

2 responses to “The smell of vulnerability

  1. Fuck. I have pretty much always thought that people are fucking scum, but it still gets me whenever I hear about these kinds of things happening. I have a very keen situational awareness due to some training and a young life built on harassment. I have witnessed this sort of thing happening a number of times and stepped in without hesitation to stop it. Most predators are easily frightened (all in my case) and not a single one of them ended in violence though a couple did try to act big, ultimately they left without further incident. I also know that it can be hard for someone on the street having been minding their own business to see something like what happened to you and determine in the few seconds of seeing it if something wrong is actually happening. There are also people that either don’t care or even more that are simply too scarred to get involved themselves even if they were to notice. That particular situation sickens me only a little less than what happened to you, but I have no answers or solutions to that particular problem. What you experienced, the “fuzzy brain” is common for people suddenly put into unexpected situations very suddenly and no one should expect you to have acted any differently. Turning the hand inappropriate advancement into a hand shake was actually very well played and I applaud your ability to disarm the situation as well as you did and am relieved to hear that he left without any further unseemly behavior. It is awful that people behave in this manner and for years I never even realized how badly women are treated by society as a whole because I never did and never saw it in anyone I ever associated with either. I really don’t know what else to say except I am genuinely happy you made it out of that situation when you did and hope that the individual that molested and demeaned you in such a way in the very least stopped doing such things. Knowing that is unlikely I can only envision him getting run over by a bus or suffer some indignity greater than “he” put onto you. I don’t know you or how you think, but I am going to go ahead and say…”fuck that fucking shit stain on humanity” and wish you a good day and a happy life.



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