Friday, June 24, 2011

A Groping, a Choking, and a Chop Stick Poking

A Groping: Part One

Many moons and several worlds ago, I was a college freshman. To quickly sum up two semesters, my roommate and I did not hit it off. We clashed. It was a banging clang that I have not experienced before or since with any personality. It seemed like a match made in the fiery pit of Hell.

But it was God's match.

Not with her, no. We didn't run off into the sunset, holding hands and skipping through the dandelions. But down the hall, in the very back corner, God had placed another pair of college freshman. They'd known each other for years and, over the course of that first semester, I became good friends with them. They allowed me to sleep in their room when I didn't want to be in my own. I became their honorary roommate, sleeping on their couch perhaps more frequently than I slept in my own bed. The next year we all lived together, officially. And the rest is a lesson in history.

Sylvia*, Kate* and I have our own lives. We're all married. We all live in different places. Sylvia has a daughter. I have two sons. They both have jobs. I don't. A year ago we decided that this summer we needed to have some kind of girls extravaganza.

We were able to find two days that worked for everyone--no small feat, believe me--and the three of us descended upon Pasadena, CA on Tuesday afternoon. We had dinner and talked late into the night. In some ways, it felt just like a night from eight or ten years ago. The only thing that changed was the subject matter. Husbands, children, jobs.

We woke up on Wednesday morning with plans to head off to the Huntington Library. Once we were all dressed and ready to start our day, we walked down to the continental breakfast. After browsing the options, we all decided to make waffles. As Kate made hers, I made hot chocolate. I was very excited about it because I'd added a squirt of french vanilla creamer. It was going to be good. My taste buds were eagerly awaiting. Kate's waffle finished and she went to the table. Sylvia started hers. I stood at the counter, waiting to make my own.

A male employee was going in and out of the room checking on things. He seemed nice enough. He was smiley and friendly. And then, just like that, he was too friendly. Way. Too. Friendly. As I stood, waiting my turn, he walked past. Suddenly, beginning at one hip, he ran his hand across my butt, ending at the opposite hip. I tensed. My brain began to process. Could it have possibly been an accident? Was there any way that someone could accidentally grope a butt for that long? I walked up to Sylvia. "Maybe it was an accident but I think..."

"No. It happened to me, too."

"What? The guy..."

"Touched my butt? Yeah."

We were suddenly so uncomfortable with the idea that this employee was going around touching tooshies that we kind of started to express our concern by soft, awkward, chuckling. I went over to Kate, "Did that guy touch your butt?"

"WHAT?" She was appalled. I went back to Sylvia.

"Kate is horrified." Sylvia finished preparing her waffle and walked over to our table. As I waited for my waffle to be done I kept my butt firmly planted against the counter. When the waffle was finished, I turned to remove it from the iron. I saw him coming. I saw him reach out and I felt the same unfamiliar hand drag across my posterior. I bristled. Suddenly I had found myself smack dab in the middle of This is NOT okay! At this point I was pretty shaken because, well, if this guy is willing to do this in the hospitality room in the middle of broad daylight, what's he willing to do when it's dark and no one is around. I went back to the table, dropped my plate on it and said, "He did it again." Then my unsteady arm whacked my hot chocolate with the shot of french vanilla creamer. It flew up in the air, sailed forward, and dumped all over my white capris. As everyone gasped and jumped up, I blurted out, "That's how worked up I am about all this." A man in a yellow shirt asked if I was burned and began to help. And, of course, Smiley Groper ran to my rescue.

As I assured everyone involved that I was alright (and as I lamented the loss of one of my favorite pairs of capris) I backed up into a corner to protect my butt from further inappropriate touching. As everyone else tried to clean up the mess, I stood against the wall. The Groper asked me, repeatedly, if I was alright. As far as the hot chocolate goes, yes. As far as you go, no. I excused myself to go change my pants.

When I got up to what I thought was our room, there was a Do Not Disturb sign. I decided that maybe I was confused with all the spilling and unwanted touching. Still covered in hot cocoa, I went back down to the breakfast room to ask my friends what our room number was.


"But there's a Do Not Disturb sign on the door."

I'd missed the conversation where Kate had said she was putting it there so that housekeeping didn't start cleaning our room while we were at breakfast. Armed with this new piece of information, I walked back to the elevator. As I got on I saw The Groper coming toward me. I frantically pushed the button and, I kid you not, just like in the movies, he dove onto the elevator with me just as the door was closing. I stared at the ground. His shoes were covered in paint.

"Are you okay?" He asked.

"I'm fine," I said as firmly and unmoved as I could muster.

"Are you sure?"

"YES. I'm sure." I exclaimed with a tone that clearly said Leave me alone you total creep.

"What's your name?" He asked.

I raised my eyes and locked them with his. And, like a total idiot, I flatly said, "Lori."

"Lori," he repeated it like it was a fine wine, rolling it over his tongue as though he'd never heard it before. Then he smiled. The door opened and I dashed out. Then I stopped abruptly, wanting him to go first. Thankfully, he went right when I needed to go left. I quickly went to the room, changed my clothes, and dashed down to my friends.

"He followed me onto the elevator."

Concern spread across their faces. Quickly, we went back up to our room. There's a PhD, a Master's and several Bachelor's degrees among us, certainly we could figure out how best to handle this situation.

--To Be Continued

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. My friends have been renamed after Kate Chopin and Sylvia Plath, two of my favorite authors. No, I do not like one friend better than the other. No, I do not expect one of my friends to stick her head into an oven.

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