Footnotes, Part 1

There were a few things I mentioned briefly during The Year, things that I promised to revisit at a later time. Well, that time has come. Without further ado, I want to tell the story of how The Predator got his name.

The short story is that I didn’t give him this alias. On the last day that I saw him, we had some fairly rowdy reunion sex before lying down to catch our breath and catch up with one another, as it had been a few weeks since we’d last met. He seemed a bit moodier than I’d ever seen him, so I asked what was bothering him. He explained that he’d been doing some intense work in therapy. He tried to tell me without getting specific at all, and I didn’t want to pry, so I just listened. The less I said, the more he spoke to fill the silence.

He admitted that he had made some bad choices in his past, that he’d hurt people. That there was a community of women with pitchforks meant for him.

“Wait…pitchforks?”

“Yeah, there was a letter circulated. They’re calling me a predator.”

Now I was desperate to pry, but I felt that he’d revealed more than he intended. I also had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing. I wondered whether the timing had been intentional — sleep with me, then drop this little bomb. I also wondered how comfortable I felt with someone who in the (who knows how distant) past had hurt multiple people enough that they carried it with them to this day, shared their stories, found the sort of sisterhood they never wanted, went so far as to write and circulate a letter, then contacted him to bring their pain to light.

Even though I had never seen predatory behavior from him, I knew that it would be challenging to move past that word. So the next time he reached out, I explained that my inner alarm bells were ringing, that I needed to honor that by calling things off. He was predictably gracious, acknowledging the importance of listening to oneself. I thanked him for understanding and wished him the best.

Not five minutes later, he sends me a text: “want to meet for a drink?” Uhhhh, well, no. Instead, I wrote something I’m proud of : “That right there, pushing on a boundary I just set? That’s not ok. It’s a no.”

He pushed back, and I felt vindicated. Heeding the alarm bells had worked! I’d weeded out someone who was showing me that his true self was closer to how the angry mob saw him than the emotionally intelligent guy he had presented to me since we’d met. A small victory, but a victory for personal growth nonetheless.

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