Not an Odalisque

Tell Me How To Say “No”

with one comment

A few months ago I resolved to start saying “no.” I think that the part of me that tells potential partners to go away is missing; I’m trying to find it. It isn’t all about sex, you understand. I still haven’t managed to tell my father that I’m not going to read the copy of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ he bought me for Christmas. I’m likely to assent to a coffee, a meal, or a slow dance, and then realise that I haven’t been wary enough of romantic expectations.

You see, people come along with their narratives of who they want me to be, and I don’t want to disappoint them. They seem so happy when I get it right. Because of that, I’ve played successively the ingénue, the other woman, the struggling writer and the sunny girlfriend. But it has to stop. People get so disappointed when they find out their ingénue is someone else’s femme fatale.

More than a year ago I was sat at a bar in Prague airport waiting for my friends. I’d already spent the flight there playing the idealistic charity worker to a fellow passenger’s successful but jaded businessman. I wanted to start my holiday with a coffee and some quiet time, but a man came in, got a drink and wandered over.

“What are you writing?”

“My diary,” I say.

“Am I in it?” he asks.

“I’m afraid not.” I reply.

“Where are you from?” he wants to know. I don’t want to talk to him, but all the time he keeps asking questions I can’t get out of the conversation without being rude. By the time he’s suggesting that he sets me up in a little flat to be his “private English tutor” I feel like I’ve led him on so much by engaging in conversation that I can’t tell him to take his sleazy proposal elsewhere. I find myself making excuses rather than looking at him disdainfully and stalking off. Sighing with relief when my friends appear, I escape. You may think that these problems don’t arise very often. You’re wrong. I was asked out by three men during a ten minute walk from the tube to my destination in London recently.

The situation in Prague wasn’t too difficult, since only a very small proportion of my social circle can be found there. Other areas are more complicated. I once had a boss who used to ring me in the middle of the night for pointless conversations about the next day’s meetings. I never did find out quite what that meant. A married man asks you to meet for coffee. Do you trust that he’s faithful? Last time that happened to me I found myself in the other woman role before I even realised that his wife didn’t know my name. After that incident I decided to carry a big, flashing sign saying “No, Thank You”.

There are three problems with my sign. One is that I tend to sabotage it. Auto-flirt if triggers when I don’t want to answer the question or feel the need to keep someone at arm’s length. I’m flirted with auto-flirt almost always activates immediately. If you’re an older man with a bit of authority to your presence I have no chance. For me, flirting with such a man represents both conformity and resistance, it is a vehicle for pushing at the boundaries a little, while being rewarded with a bit of approval.

The second problem is that there are a few people I don’t want to wave a “no” sign at. I don’t know that I want to wave a “yes” sign, either, but I’d take the opportunity to find out. There’s a rather nice man I see at dancing, for example, who I’ve thought about more than once. If I began flirting with him exclusively, however, he might realise that I’ve thought about him. It all sounds a bit too risky to me.

My biggest problem, though, is that being hyper-aware of messages means I don’t get to do things that are fun. I don’t get to go for coffees with interesting—if unattractive—people, I don’t get to do the close moves at modern jive for fear of feeling a hard-on pressed against my thigh (yes, that really happened, and it was icky). These seem like silly sacrifices, because I’m sure most men can drink coffee and dance close without a thought to their willies. If you’re male, please let me know if I’m right.

So what am I to do? Declare this a failed experiment and indulge my need for universal approval with playacting and/ or prostitution? Fight the flirting and live with the limitations on my drinking and dancing? Please, if you’re a good girl, tell me how you do it!


Written by Not an Odalisque

April 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

One Response

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  1. Do you choose not to do any close dancing? (from a close hold to a more bachata style closer legs interleaved proximity).
    Is the hardon issue something that stops you from dancing close with aan that you could fancy? Seems strange to shy away from it – is that a case of the right cock at the wrong time or something that feels wrong from a social standpoint?

    I’m sure most men can drink coffee without a thought to their member
    But close dance without potentially getting a semi or above?
    Depends on the rapidity/complexity of te dance and the duration of closer hold – but I’d imagine most guys would have it happen. Doesn’t require active thinking necessarily.

    It’s a taboo subject in most foruma of dance – it’s te normal/ desired response in some dances (some reggaeton,perreaton etc). Maybe others just have purer minds but I’d imagine I’d men knew they were going to be dancing close hold that evening they might prepare by masturbation to calm autonomic urges.


    August 31, 2010 at 12:19 am

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