4/07/2013

Kicking Asana

Story Sent in by Kim:

I used to teach yoga at a local studio and a guy named Dennis started attending my classes. He was a bit older, but he struck me as a nice guy who seemed serious about practicing. We'd talk sometimes before or after classes, but he was nervous and awkward and we usually ran out of things to talk about quickly:

"So, you're really good at yoga. How long have you been doing it?" a typical conversation would start, on his part.

"Thanks. A little less than 25 years," I'd reply, "Yourself?"

"Wow. That's so great." Then he'd go off and set his mat down.

One time, after a session, he came up to me and asked me out to dinner that evening. I had plans, so he asked me when another good time would be.

He made my antennae twitch, so I told him the (most-of-the-time) truth: that I didn't date clients. He then said that he simply had questions about yoga and that he was interested in working it more actively into his lifestyle. I agreed to meet with him over a short lunch over the following week.

At the lunch, he showed up with a small bouquet of flowers and a handmade card with the number 781 surrounded by drawn-on hearts. The inside of the card was blank, as was the back of the card. I asked him what the significance of 781 was, and he said, "On average, it's the number of steps you take from the yoga studio to your apartment."

"Whoa," I said, "That's kind of stalker-ish."

He stared, like I had really caught him off-guard with my comment. He said, "W-well, that isn't, I mean, it's not always 781 steps. I mean, sometimes you take closer to 700, sometimes closer to 800, b-but after I added it up with the law of averages, it's usually–"

I stood slowly and said, "You following me home is against the law." I had no idea if it was or wasn't, but I felt like I had to frighten him. "I'm going to tell the studio manager about this, and I don't want to see you at the studio again. If I do, I'll call the cops."

He said, "Step-counting isn't illegal."

"Following someone enough to know how many steps they take, on average, is. I mean it. If I see you again, I'm calling the police."

I left him and the flowers there, but I took the card with me (as "evidence"? I had no idea). Maybe I was heartless, but I wasn't about to play games with this guy. Just to be safe, I successfully switched the times that I taught the class, and I also asked friends to walk me home from the studio for a few weeks afterward. I haven't seen Dennis since, and this was a couple of years ago.

10 comments:

  1. I am sure some will say you were too harsh, but I don't think you were! That is downright creepy! I am glad you told him so and did not continue the "date." Kust thinking about him following you and counting your steps (enough times to come up with an average!) makes my skin crawl.

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  2. Oops, please pardon my typo. Should be "just" not "kust."

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  3. Dennis was obviously a bit unhinged but I honestly wonder how he thought that explanation would play out. Even in crazy world, admitting that you're following a person you barely know has to be a bad thing right? Personally, I'm impressed that he could count her steps (and do the averages) because I would have gotten bored or been distracted by a squirrel or something. That is why I rarely stalk people.

    Good on the OP for nipping the situation in the bud though.

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  4. You did a great job,OP. Kudos. You're a smart woman. Man, that's some craziness, though. Wow.

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  5. Stalking behavior is any sort of behavior that is made or known by the offender to cause the victim to feel threatened. I would say that letting the gentleman know the behavior was unwanted put him on notice to stay away.

    Good move for the OP taking the cards and asserting a boundary. This guy might have been just socially askward, but that behavior is disturbning. At least he seems to have gotten the picture and stayed away.

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  6. You were not heartless OP, don't even question that. What that guy was doing was not stalker-ish, it was flat out stalking and you did the right thing by telling him flat out that it was not OK. The people who'd accuse you of being mean for putting it bluntly are the same people who'd accuse you of being too vague if you had tried to put him off gently.

    You have a right to keep yourself safe. Don't apologize for doing so and don't feel like you have to ignore your antennae twitches even if listening to them means not being nice to someone.

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  7. @DevilYouKnow

    "Even in crazy world, admitting that you're following a person you barely know has to be a bad thing right?"

    He'd have to acknowledge that she is a person though.

    I kind of want to hear his explanation for how and why what he was doing wasn't stalking but I don't think we'd get anything that made sense.

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  8. @rectpropagaion:

    I can provide his explanation verbatim:
    "What? No, I'm not like that."

    Same classic it-can't-be-that-way-cuz-that's-not-how-I-see-myself logic as racists sputtering after being called out on racism.

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  9. I like that he made a card. People rarely go to the effort of making hand-made gifts any more. I think OP missed out here guys. If she'd have given him a chance, she could be wearing a stunning cat skull pendant and a nice human skin dress.

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  10. I'm thinking he might've been autistic or otherwise not what we percieve as normal. Would explain the obsession with counting the steps and the average of them and being awkward.

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