DISCLAIMER: * The following entry is not at all politically correct. It contains stereotypes, generalizations and is entirely written in a moment of frustration. The vast majority of Sri Lankan men are the opposite of what I describe, but it is these obnoxious few to whom this blog is directed.*
My first encounter with a bona fide creep was on a British Airways flight from London to Toronto. I was on my way home after an adventure in India with street food that landed me in the hospital and nearly made me miss my flight home. I had spent the night attempting to sleep on the Heathrow airport floor, and by this leg of the journey I was absolutely exhausted.
I was squished in the window seat doing my best to find a comfortable sleeping position reclined (if you can call it that) against the head rest, when I noticed the 80+year-old man beside me trying to look down my shirt. Against all intuition, I decided to ignore it and thought he must just be resting with his head pointed in that general direction. I shuffled closer to the window. Next thing I know this man’s leg is up against mine. Now I’m beginning to think this is weird.
I continue to shuffle towards the window to avoid touching but slowly his leg finds contact with mine. About a half hour later I am sardined against the window and he has gradually crept so that he is half way on my seat. It is at this point that he grabs my hand and starts stroking it.
“You have beautiful hands,” he says. (Not only is this not smooth, but it is the biggest lie ever since my “man hands” could crush his in an instant.)
Keeping these thoughts to myself I say, “Excuse me sir (not sure why the sir), but you are making me feel uncomfortable.” Immediately he apologizes and scoots over. I think it is over when a few more minutes pass and he seems to be trying to playing footsies with me.
I decide I can’t put up with this for another minute let alone seven more hours so I talk to one of the flight attendants. I ask if there are any seats I could move to. When the flight attendant replies that he is sorry but the flight is full, I begin to tear up (partly due to exhaustion).
“There’s some creep sitting next to me and trying to touch me”, I said. Next thing I know, I’m in “Club World”, fully reclined, served meals with real cutlery and all sorts of soothing alcoholic drinks. The British Airways staff treated me like royalty as they made sure I was alright and I even got upgraded on my next Air Canada flight too.
It didn’t resonant with me at the time, but the creepy elderly man beside me was ironically Sri Lankan and this would be my first of many encounters with such creeps.
According to urbandictionary.com a creep is “a 1950s term for an undesirable man.” That doesn’t quite describe what I mean.
Fortunately, I also found out from urban dictionary what a creeper stash is – “A thin, usually dark and greasy mustache just above the top lip, . . . Usually those with a true “creeper stash” also carry a baseball bat while wearing Bermuda shorts, and pop out of expected locations ready to beat someone up.” Replace the baseball bat with a cricket bat, the shorts with a colourful sarong and the “ready to beat someone up ” with “staring at your chest with beady eyes and has drool running down his chin” and you’d have the perfect definition of what I’m referring to when I talk about a creep.
I should also note that creeps are relatively harmless. They would never physically attack anyone, even if they feel threatened. When confronted, they will sidle off trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
Common places were creeps lurk are crowded buses, parks near trees, and street markets. The best way to deal with creeps is give them a quick but stiff elbow to the ribs and SHAME THEM. I am convinced of this after a creep followed me on a run on his motorcycle and got off many times to urinate. It took the third time for me to realize that he wasn’t handling himself in order to urinate! I yelled at him in the same way as I treat the stray dogs on my run. “Peesu de? Yanne!” Rough Translation – “Are you crazy? Go away you creepy ______ (insert profanity of choice).” Some other young men that weren’t far off checked to see that I was alright and went to have words with the creep as I jogged on.
I am convinced that all the women of Colombo need to band together to eliminate the creeps. Sure some Sri Lankan men are socially awkward and they don’t know how to react when they like a girl so they stare at her dumbfounded. My worry it that what may start out as awkwardness may evolve into creepiness if no one intervenes. Women, we have a responsibility to teach them what is appropriate.
So next time you have an encounter with a creep, don’t try to “save face” or sweep it under the rug. We have a responsibility for the future. The only way creeps will learn is to be confronted. Ask him loudly if he is crazy. Call him a sick man. Elbow him so hard in the ribs that you wind him. The future of Sri Lanka and the world may very well depend on it!