I had a very scary experience yesterday. Something I didn't expect, yet am always on the guard for.
I was stalked.
I know it sounds dramatic, but it really happened. I was out exploring a specific neighborhood here in Antwerp called the Zurenborg. It's filled with beautiful architecture from every style you can imagine. I'd spent seven hours walking and gawking, completely enjoying myself. I'd finished up with a beer as I people watched in one of the squares, then looking at the time, I called it a day.
I had about two miles to walk home. I was tired enough I would have taken the tram, but nothing connected easily to where I wanted to go. So, map in hand, I headed towards the hotel.
It was an easy walk. Right along the main drag, so there was no way I would get lost. And my hotel stands high enough so I could see it once I got close.
About halfway home I noticed a park on the right of the street. It wasn't anywhere close to dark, but the clouds made things a little gloomy, yet it's a public park. And I thought it would be a nicer walk than along the street, so I headed inside.
I didn't get ten steps before my gift was telling me to GET OUT. I stopped dead and analyzed it. I'd been drinking, remember. Was I just being silly or was I really sensing something was off.
It didn't go away, and over the years I've learned the hard way to listen to that inner voice. I turned around and left the park.
And no sooner was I a few steps out and back on the sidewalk, a man in a blue hoody came at me. Rushed over and into my space. He looked okay--not scary--and wanted to know if I needed help, if he could give me directions.
I had the map in my hand still, but I was fine, other than my spidey-sense tingling all to hell. I thanked him as I backed away, and told him I wasn't lost, I didn't need help.
He pushed a bit, and I think he was trying to tell me he was a part of like a neighborhood watch and worked with the police. Well, even if he did--which I had and still have serious doubts--I didn't need help and told him so.
Then he asked me out for a drink. WTF? He's gone from hero to potential date? *insert roll of eyes here* I do what I always do...point to my wedding ring and smile. "Husband." Usually they grin and back off. Not this guy. He responds with, "Me too." Which I took to mean he was married, but to a female.
Now I'm not only feeling a little hassled, but disgusted, too. Like both of us being married makes it okay? Seriously? I flat out told him no, turned around and walked away. Last I saw of him he was hoofing it back down the street.
But it doesn't end there. About five minutes later I realized I'd taken the wrong road, so I had to turn around. I kept an wary eye out for the guy, just to be safe. And a good thing I did. As I was walking down the main street I heard a shout and saw out of the corner of my eye, him trying to flag me down.
Well, hell no! I grabbed up my phone, and put on my production power walk. He was too far away to catch me and there were other people around, but when I saw him trying to cross the street to get to me, my stress level hit a new high.
I had Jonathon on speed dial. He might not be able to save me, but the thought chased through my mind he'd know where to find my body. Morbid, you think?
And it's STILL not over. I glanced over my shoulder once, and then again, and finally began breathing a little easier when I saw no sign of a blue hoody. I kept on walking fast now, because not only was I a little scared, it was starting to rain.
Finally got to a major corner and there was this beautiful little church. Lots of people around, so I felt better and went over to take some pictures. I turn around from getting a pic of these dead people and to my shock, my "admirer" is right behind me. And this time he was driving.
He has now gone from irritating guy in a blue hoody, to creepy stalker dude in a car. Now I was seriously scared--and a lot pissed off. If he's a creepy stalker dude then I'm ready to kick his balls to Canada if necessary. But if he's a regular-albeit stupid-guy who just wants to go out with me, why the f**k won't he back off? Doesn't he understand he's making it worse?
In this day and age a guy should know that while persistence in finding a woman can be a good thing, chasing her down a street in a car after she's said no several times IS NOT attractive. And it can scare the hell out of her. Even if I were single, and he was an Antonio Banderas clone, I'd rip out his eyes, just on principle.
So creepy stalker dude is shouting how he wants to help me. He wants me to get in the car so he can take me to the police. I'm being stubborn. It's raining. He wants to take care of me.
Now, I'm nowhere near the car and backing farther away as he's talking. There are lots of people around, including two guys at a tram stop who were watching suspiciously, so I wasn't in any immediate danger. But I was mad and scared and I was SOOO done with him.
I told him, NO I didn't need any help. NO, I didn't need the police. NO, I wouldn't melt in the rain. And YES, I was very stubborn. I said thanks but no thanks. I don't need you. Leave me alone. Then, my courage deserted me, and I pushed my way through the crowd and sneaked around the side of the church and watched to see if he'd leave.
He couldn't come after me in the car--I'd gone behind him--so he had to make a big circle around the block and by that time I'd put my speedy feet on and gotten out of there.
I never saw him again.
But, for the first time in a long time I was scared. Scared to walk down a street alone, even though there were dozens of people around me.
Was he the reason my gift said to get out of the park? He WAS coming in after me and if he'd been persistent on the street with everyone around us, would he have not taken no as an answer in the park?
I have to say I've never been so glad for my empathic gift. God told me to get out and I listened. And I honestly believe this story could have had a different ending had I not.
So the moral of this blog is two-fold.
One-- Ladies watch were you are at all times. Be aware. If a guy seems nice, be careful. Ted Bundy was nice and we all know how that turned out. Listen to that inner voice we all have. If it says be afraid... LISTEN. What have you got to lose? Your pride? Better that than your life.
Two-- Guys. Yes, women usually love to be chased. But please, keep it light and easy. Don't push so hard if they say no. And for God's sake, don't stalk them or chase them down a street. You could be the nicest, cutest, bestest guy on the planet, but the moment you cross the line, you change into Creepy Stalker Dude and you might find yourself on a plane to Canada to retrieve your nuts!
Whew, that was cathartic. I guess I needed to vent. But if one woman can learn from my lesson, I'm happy I could share it.