All bodybuilders go to heaven… This is still my most favorite thrift store find and I know I’ve used it on here before but deal with it because I love this so hard. I think ‘Roided Out Guardian Angel With Mullet (TM) is going to be the unofficial GFE mascot!
Everyone has a Creepy Date story. My favorite story to tell is the time in college when a guy showed up on my doorstep wearing jeans with a big hole over his crotch with smiley face boxers peeking through. He said – and I swear I’m not making this up – “We’re both happy to see you!” Just in case his meaning wasn’t perfectly clear he did a little smiley-face hip thrust. Because I was young and didn’t know better, I didn’t turn around and go home right then to spend Friday night playing Simba on the Nintendo with my roommates. Instead I whispered to my friend that if she hadn’t heard from me in one hour to page me (yes, I’m that old) and fake an emergency to get me out of there. It turned out to be a necessary plan. When he took me to his place (to make me a “gourmet dinner” that turned out to be Cream of Chicken soup poured over instant rice) and the only furniture he had was a mattress on the floor, I knew I needed out. Fast.
If only I’d had a Guardian Angel! And by that I mean piece of jewelry designed to give us ladies an easier way out of a date gone bad and not a dude with wings, halo and bulging biceps. (Although I suppose both would have taken care of my problem!) The Guardian Angel is a sleek, innocuous-looking pendant that can be worn as a bracelet or necklace. When you push the button on it, it immediately sends a call to your phone giving you an excuse to bolt. But it’s not just good for creepy dates. Having drinks with a colleague who can’t stop talking about the project budget? Sitting in a cafe on the most boring OK Cupid meet-up ever? Caught next to a super chatty person on the bus? Press the button and end the misery!
When I first heard about this necklace-bracelet (can it work as a hair tie too??) – I was asked to cover it for SheKnows – I thought it was kind of brilliant. Because if you’ve read my site for very long you know I’ve had a lot of creepy dates. And some that went way beyond creepy. I could have used a magical amulet of protection. But the more I thought about it today, the more uneasy I began to feel about the concept.
Here’s the problem: Instead of buying an expensive pendant-gadget and concocting an elaborate excuse to leave why don’t you… just leave? We shouldn’t have to stay in situations that make us uncomfortable and we, especially women, should be able to say when someone is making us uncomfortable. We shouldn’t need an excuse to protect ourselves. And yet so many of us feel like we do. And I include me in that.
While it’s true I’ve gotten better about listening to my gut and avoiding situations that make me feel weird, I still have a really hard time just telling people I don’t like the way they’re treating me. I worry that I’ll hurt their feelings or that they won’t like me (which I don’t know why I’m worrying about someone who makes me uncomfortable enough to go through this logic spin-cycle liking me or not). I always worry that perhaps I’m being too sensitive or have misinterpreted the situation and they didn’t mean to squick me out.
Yet as I’ve gotten older, experience has shown me time and again that if my gut tells me something is off with someone then there usually is. And it doesn’t matter much what their intentions were if their actions make me uncomfortable. I have a right to feel safe. Even if that annoys the other person or hurts their feelings. In fact, according to Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, safety is the second most important need that human beings have after physiological needs like food and air.
Another thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that generally when I try to concoct an excuse, it ends up failing anyhow. Either I fail to be convincing enough in my argument and the other person sees my excuses as challenges to overcome or my failing memory kicks in and I forget all the pieces needed to keep up the charade. Either way has the potential for being deeply embarrassing for all parties involved. (Just ask my ex-boyfriend, whom I dumped by telling him I moved to Chicago to care for my ailing parents, how he felt when he called my apartment to ask my roommate for my forwarding address to send me a sympathy card and instead she answered, “Why don’t you just ask Charlotte herself? She’s right here!” Oops. In my defense, I was 18 and he was 35 so hopefully he wasn’t too surprised by my total immaturity.) I’ve learned it’s better to just say nothing than to make something up.
So if this is all so clear and we’re all so empowered, then why are we so scared to say what we really mean? And it’s not just me that has this issue. If the number of sitcom plot-lines dedicated to all the ways women fake-out dates is to be believed, it’s practically an epidemic in our culture. As I thought about this today I think it’s because, honestly, it’s easier in that moment. It’s hard to handle other people’s emotions, whether they’re hurt, disappointed, angry or even grateful since they get to eat your untouched Philly cheesesteak. And so instead we do what we think is the easy way out and let the consequences fall out later.
The Guardian Angel works in more dire situations as well. Any woman who’s had to walk home alone at night or tried to find her car in a secluded parking garage knows how scary it can be. So if you are feeling really threatened you can hold down the button for three seconds and the gadget will either call 911 or text a pre-programmed number with a plea for help and your location coordinates. (It’s basically a posh version of the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” lanyard crossed with a Jack Bauer hostage negotiation, thereby marrying two of my favorite TV phenomena EVER.) When I think about it from this angle it seems just as clear to me that everyone (especially my children!) should have one surgically attached to their person.
My initial reaction was: Cool! Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?? My second reaction was: Is this invention infantalizing women? Is it teaching us to think of ourselves as victims? Do women really need this? My third reaction was: Perhaps but women really need this.
In a perfect world we’d be able to just speak up and say how we felt. I really wish I’d just told smiley-face boxer-short guy, “No thanks, I’m not comfortable with that kind of double date. Both of you can go home.” (Where was P!nk when I needed her?!) But sometimes the moment can feel so overwhelming that you just need a quick out without having to explain too much. And worse, sometimes when we try to tell someone they’re bothering us it actually escalates the situation. If you’re already worried about someone being creepy and unpredictable, is it really safe to say something that might make them act in an even more creepy and unpredictable way?
In the end, maybe we all need a panic button. It certainly can’t hurt you to have one handy. I guess?
What’s your worst date story? Do you think the Guardian Angel jewelry concept is a brilliant safety tool or a lame cop out? Do you have a hard time telling someone they are making you uncomfortable?