The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: Creepy Men of NY

Dear Man with the Musty Old Jacket and Wandering Hands,

How did you not fuck off two trains ago?

I realize my ass is one that's begging to be followed, but that doesn't mean I was.

Do you even remember how it went down, or have you followed enough women that you no longer know how to differentiate? I'll make it easy for you: this is what happened.

I boarded the L train in Manhattan, consumed by Flowers for Algernon and oblivious to the people around me.

You got on at the next stop, sat down right next to me. I found it a little strange that I could feel your left leg and arm pressed up so closely against my right arm and right leg, but it wouldn't have been my first time making physical contact with someone on a packed subway car, so I didn't give it much thought.

This next part starts getting weird.

You cross your arms. I'm aware of you now - you see sir, you gave yourself away here. You were just fidgeting a little too much. Your left arm crosses over your right, somewhat masking it. You were clever; you thought this through. The fingertips of your right hand graze against my right upper thigh and I come to life. I glance in your direction. The fingertips disappear, but you do not move a muscle. I begin to doubt myself - did I imagine that touch? I keep my peripherals trained on your gray shirt sleeve in the corner of my right eye, but nothing else happens.

The train comes to a stop and I stand up, glancing back at you before I step off. You remain seated, which is why this next part eludes me. See, it eludes me because I get up and I follow the hoards of people headed for the G train, convinced you are NOT following me. In fact, why would the possibility of you following me even cross my mind? If it's 2018 and men and women are equal and #MeToo and the world is going to be okay, then why the fuck do I need to be afraid of you?

I cross the station, lose myself in the crowd, relieved that I've left you behind forever.

The G train is at the station as I bound down the stairs - perfect timing. Would this have gone down the way it had if the train hadn't already been there?

I step onto the train just before the doors close, shutting out everyone and everything else. I place my right hand on the nearest pole, gripping it for balance. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a gray shirt sleeve attached to a hand, which is gripping the pole right above my hand. My heart sinks. You.

I glance to my right and confirm via peripherals - there you are. Standing directly behind me. Close enough to touch.

I tell myself not to freak out. But why do I tell myself not to freak out? My thoughts are jumbled and confused. I have pepper spray in my purse but I'm not even considering that in the moment. All I can think about is what is going to happen next. Not what I should do to defend myself, but what...the hell is this?

I feel something press against my backside and I know it's you. I instinctively jerk forward. I don't even look in your direction, which doesn't matter because you aren't looking in mine. No one else on the train is aware of what's going on. Your hand lowers an inch to graze against mine on the pole. This time I step away and move to a different pole. My heart is racing because it's almost my stop and you still haven't gotten off.

The train arrives at my stop and I confidently step off the train, preparing myself for whatever is about to go down. Don'tgetoffheredon'tgetoffheredon'tgetoffhere is an anthem on repeat in my head. You get off with me.

I slow my walk, slow enough that you would look ridiculous if you don't pass me up. Yet, you don't pass me up. I continue walking, a little enraged and very terrified. Only about two other people got off with us, and they're long gone by now.

I move through the turnstile and turn to the staircase. I pause, giving you a moment to walk up ahead of me. You begin fumbling with your phone like a conspicuous idiot. Do you realize I'm completely aware of you and what you're doing? What are you doing? Why can't you leave me alone?

I walk up the staircase, figuring between that and staying down in an empty subway station alone with you, it's the best option. I hear your footsteps right behind me. I feel you looking at me.

And then I feel you reach out and grab my butt and I whip around and I yell in your face, "What the fuck are you doing?!" and you blurt out "Sorry!" and run past me and sprint across the street, turning back once, twice, three times to see if I'm still watching you run away and I'm shaking my head and I'm cursing after you and I'm wondering why the hell is this the world we live in?

Sincerely,

Don't Fucking Touch Me.

**Sadly NONE of this has been fictionalized, but you can still email me your thoughts at taylorfengle@gmail.com!**

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