It’s a Thursday night and you’re at Sancho’s with a few girlfriends, ordering a Maker’s on the rocks and getting change for a five to play "Sugar Magnolia" in the juker. You steal a quick glance around the room as you take a first swig of the burning beverage and spot a guy in a straw cowboy hat, tacky blue Hawaiian shirt, and porn-star ‘stache giving you a creepy half-smile from across the bar. You promptly remember the first and most important rule when it comes to avoiding these clueless loathsome strangers before it’s too late. D.M.E.C. (DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT). You learned this from a close girlfriend long ago. Creepy dudes feed off of any sign, however subtle, of real human connection. If Stetson cologne is their poison, eye contact is their bait.
But wait, it’s too late. The Hawaiian cowboy has been hooked by your glance and is worming your way. You curse yourself for your misfortune and turn to your friend in hopes of psychically fending off this incoming creepster. But, like most unsophisticated creatures meandering this section of Colfax on weeknights, he taps you on the shoulder and grins the familiar grin of feeble-minded inebriates. He wants to chit-chat. Can he buy you another drink? What do you think about the new Nickelback song and blah blah blah…and so on...
You listen halfheartedly and try your best to send polite, yet explicit clues that you’re not interested. But, like the majority of his clueless brethren, this dud doesn’t seem to be taking the hint and you’re finding yourself at the familiar ethical crossroads often reached by people accused of being “too nice.” There’s nothing you’d like more than to suck it up and tell this dirt bag straight-up to get lost. But you just don’t have the heart to do it.
“Instead of making up excuses like having to go to the bathroom or having some imaginary super-muscley boyfriend waiting for you at home, I find it most effective to tell annoying guys that you simply don’t wish to pursue anything outright, be it a five minute conversation or a second date,” declares Claire Whitman, a savvy Denverite who has mastered the art of letting losers down easily. “I’m not gonna waste my night beating around the bush with some lame dude when I have better things to do, like playing pool with my friends or just enjoying my PBR in peace,” she asserts.
Although not all of us may feel comfortable employing such frank strategies when it comes to avoiding creepy fellows, perhaps Claire’s straight-forward approach is at least worth a shot. We can’t expect clueless strangers to take a hint when we’re not being completely candid with them. So instead of squirming uncomfortably on your bar stool or telling the mouth-breathing, Alice in Chains T-shirt wearing cretin that you don’t want to dance because it makes the metal plate in your head jiggle loose, you might want to try the simple, sincere method of plainly stating you’re not interested. “It’s best to extinguish any unrealistic fantasies of your star-gazing future together as quickly as possible,” Claire alleges. In the short run, you may hurt the sleazy dude’s feelings a bit. In the long run, you’ll be doing all of us a big favor.