I walked across campus one beautiful Spring day and ran in to a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. A female friend. We never dated (not even close) even though I think she might have hinted at the possibility in the past. I was recently engaged to Chrisie, but didn’t worry about talking with her (this was back when Chrisie was a tiny bit jealous sometimes) since Chrisie knew her as well and also knew I wasn’t interested. I didn’t worry, but I should have.
She waved and changed her direction slightly so our paths intersected. I waved back and slowed, thinking we might exchange some quick pleasantries as we walked by each other. She clearly had other ideas because she put out her hand to stop me.
“How have you been?” she asked.
“Pretty good,” I answered as I pulled up the strap of my backpack.
“Good. Of course, I’m in a much better mood now.”
“Uh, okay. Why?”
“Because I’m talking to you, Silly.” She leaned in a little an giggled girlishly and patted my arm near the shoulder. “So what’s been going on with you?”
“Well, actually, I’m in a pretty good mood too because-”
“Because you’re talking to me?”
“Uh, well, that’s nice and all, but there’s another reason.” She looked a bit disappointed, which should have rung a few alarm bells, but I usually miss such things, and completely missed it that day as well. I finished, “I’m engaged!”
“What? To whom?”
“Chrisie of course.”
“You’re still together?”
“Yeah, and we’re engaged. To be married.”
“Well, that’s . . . something.”
“Something good,” I offered.
“Yeah, good. That’s what I was going to say.”
Something about her speech patterns made me a little nervous, but I wrote it off as paranoia. Still, I suddenly wanted to get far, far away.
“Well, I guess you need to get to class,” I said and started to walk away.
“Yeah, but not before you give me a hug.”
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving another woman a friendly hug and we had several platonic (at least from my perspective) hugs at various points in the past, so I didn’t give it a moment’s thought and stretched my arms out.
“Sure,” I said, though I did turn my body slightly to attempt a side hug (they are much safer).
She turned me back facing her and wrapped her arms tightly around me. She pressed up against me enough to make me feel uncomfortable as she lay her head firmly on my chest.
“I hope you’re happy,” she said.
“I am.” Not really right that moment maybe, but overall I was. I would be even more happy if I could just squirm away.
“Well,” she said with an odd tone to her voice, “Congratulations.” Then it got weird.
She rubbed my back softly and brushed her hand across my butt. I thought it was an accident. I was wrong. I know I was wrong because she then quite deliberately brought her hand back and squeezed my butt. I would have jumped, but the situation was so unbelievable that I couldn’t seem to move (I was also afraid that she might misinterpret any motion). My paralysis did not last long, but when I tried to back away, she squeezed harder.
“Uh, what exactly are you doing?”
“I’m just congratulating you on your engagement.”
“Yeah, but I just don’t think this is how that’s done.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, for one thing, I don’t think me fiancé would like you hand on my butt. Actually, I know it for a fact.” Because her hand was, you know, still there.
“Oh, stop being so silly,” she said as she patted my butt, “I’m just playing around.” And yet she wouldn’t stop touching me inappropriately.
She finally broke the embrace. I had no idea what to say at that point, but even with my awkwardness turned up to eleven, I managed a polite, “Well, see you,” as I walked away.
“Hey,” she called after me, “You can always call if you need anything at all.” I didn’t remind her that I didn’t have her number, never had her number, didn’t want her number. It’s not that she was unattractive per se, it’s just that, well, you can tell from her actions that she could be eccentric. Let’s go with that.
I left, delighted that the weird incident was over. A short distance away, I ran into another classmate. A classmate who was also a woman, but at least not intent on weirding out my day. Oh, and wasn’t interested and in the remote chance she was, I didn’t know because she clearly understood boundaries.
“I won’t tell your fiancé what I just saw,” she said.
“Don’t worry, you won’t have too.”
“You looked so uncomfortable,” she laughed.
“That’s because I was uncomfortable.”
I walked off campus and to the church of Christ Student Center where I lived. Chrisie was there so I immediately said, “You know how you always say women hit on me and I don’t believe you?”
“And you know how you say that I just don’t notice when they hit on me?”
“Yeah. Why exactly are we talking about this?”
“Because I’m pretty sure I noticed a little while ago.”
“Explain.” It was not a request.
I described the entire event. When I got to the part about the other girl’s hand on my butt, Chrisie became apoplectic.
“She grabbed my butt,” I repeated. “Hey, it’s not like I wanted her to or in any way asked for it!”
“I know,” she said, “Did you call her on it?”
“Then why did she do it?”
“She said she was congratulating me on my engagement.”
“That’s not how you congratulate someone who’s engaged!”
“I know, right? That’s what I told her.” For some reason (not guilt) I needed to go on and said, “I’m sorry it happened.”
“I am too, but it’s not your fault.”
“Thanks for knowing that.”
“Just don’t let it happen again.”
It never did.