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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Man at the Door

I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I set my purchases on the counter.
He was standing by the door, and when he notices me noticing, he smiles at me.
He was a good-looking guy. Nice build. Nice smile.
And I could feel him checking me out as I was checking out my groceries.
I'm sure he was a nice guy.
I'm sure his mama raised him right.
But my gut told me something was wrong.

So I chatted with the clerk. 
And I bagged my items -- really slowly.
But he was still standing there.
He wasn’t waiting for anyone else. Only for me.
I should have been flattered.
He was a nice-looking boy.
The kind that holds doors open for women
Not the kind that kicks cats when women aren’t looking.
But looks can be deceiving
I didn’t know him
And my gut told me something was wrong.

A million and one thoughts went through the head
Of the girl I had been taught to be, the feminist I knew I was,
And the person who was just minding her own business at the grocery store.
The me that was all of these and none of these and more
Kept waiting for the guy to move.

In a perfect world, I would know
All he wanted was a thank you and a smile
Some acknowledgement that one human being recognized another
And was grateful.
But in the world that I know
A smile is sometimes mistaken for an invitation
A smile can twist quickly into a sneer -- a show of power and contempt
Contempt for me, contempt for humanity
Contempt for my right to be

So I found my voice and I nearly yelled, “What are you doing?”
And waited for his answer.
I wanted everyone in the store to hear, to witness.
“I’m just holding the door for you,” he said.
His eyebrows raised in innocence. Smile fixed on his face.
Another day this could have been the start of a beautiful fairy tale.
But it was also one flipped switch from my death in a horror film.

“I do not need a man to hold the door for me,” I said.
“You need to move. You need to leave me alone,” I said to this stranger to me.
Did he call me a bitch under his breath?
Someone did.
It was not only a thousand voices inside my head
Telling me to get in the kitchen and make that nice man a sandwich.
Give him my number. Marry him.

I didn’t ask him to hold the door.
We didn’t meet by chance
Didn’t approach the door at the same time
He stood there. Like a stalker
And I don’t know him
Don’t want to
And here’s the thing

If I was rude, I missed the guy of a lifetime. That’s on me.

But if his motives were pure, someone else will notice
Because maybe nice guys finish last, but they do finish.

However, if my gut was right
And he was looking for payback
Or to follow me out to my car
To take away my agency
Or worse
Then this was a fairy tale
And I am my own hero
Slaying dragons with my hands full of groceries

And winning.

Written for performance at Gusa by Victoria March 9, 2017
2nd Thursday Nights Open Mic 7-9PM
Gusa by Victoria
252 W Philadelphia
York PA 17401

The Man at the Door was written in response to a man misappropriating a woman's text rant, turning it into a meme, and calling her a feminazi. I could have ignored the online mansplaining, but when a group of women didn't, and attacked the woman and her agency, I needed to re-frame the conversation. 

Visit Author Mother Dreamer Phyl Campbell on Facebook, this blog, or her website.