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Benefit of the Doubt


This past Friday I had quite an awkward situation occur where a series of compliments were used to strike up a conversation. Unfortunately for me, the compliments came from a man. Let me tell you a story…

It was a sunny Friday morning. I had just gotten off the train. It was casual dress day in the office so I was excited to be in jeans, black air forces, black polo, pitch black shades, and a black fitted. I even had my black work out bag over my shoulder. My day was off to a pretty black (in a good way) start. I got a few steps out of the subway and a presumably African dude in a suit said good morning as he passed by. I reciprocated by nodding and saying good morning then I returned my focus to my blackberry per my usual routine. It was business as usual in Boston…or so I thought.

The African man slowed down his walking pace a bit. It became evident that he was parsing for the right words to break the ice since his “good morning” didn’t get more than a nod and a mumble. At this point, he was almost walking in stride with me. I kept focusing on my blackberry in hopes that he’d go away and understand that I’m not a morning person. That wouldn’t be the case and he would not be deterred. A few seconds went by and then came the following:

“So, do you work out a lot? You look like you work out.”

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Part of me was happy to have my continuously developing physique acknowledged after busting my arse for a couple months in the gym. Another part of me was concerned about where the conversation was going (Neither of the parts of me that I’m referring to are my p*nis. Just wanted to give an FYI). Had a women uttered these words to me at 8am, I would have assumed she was feelin the kid or she was going to ask for some d*ck fitness tips. Both of which would have boosted my ego. But since this was a man, I had to think other things. The obvious thought was that he practiced parfaitiety, but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt…not that there’s anything wrong with openly practicing parfaitiety.

Maybe the guy was a salesman. He could have been prepping to sell me Cutco knives, steroids nutritional supplements, prepaid legal services, online shopping portals, or access to another business opportunity that turns out to be nothing more than a pyramid scheme. Maybe he was an active member of some church that was looking to recruit new members. Maybe he was in a fraternity and figured I was in one too. Maybe he had just moved to Boston and was looking for new friends. Maybe he wanted to know what gym I was a part of because he had been searching for a while.

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“Yeah man. You look like you really work out a lot. Are you a personal trainer?”

Yes! He’s just into fitness!  At least that’s what I thought. I responded at this point about how I was pursuing a PT certification and that my gym was down the street. My excitement quickly turned to concern again as he went on with a series of questions including where I was from, where I lived, my age, where I worked, and where I hung out. I tried to respond cordially and in vague fashion, but he kept going walking right along side of me. It turns out the dude works in the building right next to mine so there was really no way to escape. We get to the top of the hill just at the point where I can at least cross the street in a different spot and he then confirms what I expected…

“Hey man. I should get your number. Let me give you my card and my cell. Maybe we can hang out at some point”

This parfait arse dude prolly has a wife and kids. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and he ends up ruining any chance of that by asking for my number after an awkward 5-10 minute conversation. I wanted to punch him in his face. I wished I had said sumthin’ initially to tip him off that I liked women only and was hitting the gym reckless because I was going on a trip with the booski to a tropical island with plenty of opportunities for new facebook pictures. For him, that prolly wouldn’t have even mattered. He was quite the persistent fellow and now I know what women feel like when lame dudes hit on them. The ish is painful. I hope I never see this fellow again, even though I will now prolly bump into him….eh bad choice of words…I will see him on the streets every day. **sigh**

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I have a few questions for today. Am I wrong in concluding that he was gay? How would other heterosexual folks handle it if someone of the same sex was indirectly hitting on them? And lastly, How do folks deal with ice breakers from people they don’t want to talk to?

There’s a reason I expect the worst from people,

slim jackson


  1. Am I wrong in concluding that he was gay? How would other heterosexual folks handle it if someone of the same sex was indirectly hitting on them? And lastly, How do folks deal with ice breakers from people they don’t want to talk to?

    I will start with this. Having lived in DC, this has happened before and I didn't even realize it until well after I was at home.

    I would lean towards homosexual based on the off-hand compliments. If a hetero male is tryin to get his physique back up, he will come straight up and say, "Son, I'm tryin to get it back where you go to work out." No innuendo, etc. Or they will ask if the workers there are cuties or somethin.

    Also exchanging information won't sound so much like hitting on you.

    I vote he's gay…not that there's anything wrong with that!

  2. Was he gay? No idea. My girlfriends have made ruthless fun of me for my lack of gay-dar.

    How would I handle an unwanted gay overture? The same way I'd handle any unwanted overture. Shut it down. Quick. (I think women have significantly more practice at this than men.)

    Unwanted icebreakers? Ignore 'em.

  3. I know that it's difficult to think when all you want to do is escape, but the simplest thing to do is just ask. "Listen, before we exchange business cards, I need to know why you are asking. Are you looking for business contacts, friend contacts or boyfriend contacts?"

    At this point, he doesn't know if you are gay or straight, so it's in his best interest to answer honestly – then if he says "all three" or "boyfriend contacts" or "friends then maybe more" you can say – hey, thanks for the compliments, but I play for the other team, have a girlfriend, just got engaged, etc.

    From your posted conversation I don't necessarily read "gay" – you said he was African, customs are different in foreign countries, plus there is often language usage differences. In some countries it's not unusual to see straight men holding hands as a sign of friendship. Guess I would have to hear his tone and see his eye contact to make a better decision.

  4. @Nelia: You make shutting it down sound so simple.lol. What about the situations where you can't ignore and escape like on a subway train? Do you just put headphones on while the person is trying to talk to you?

    Let it also be known that the dude never licked his lips or did anything funny with his eyes toward me. His tone was pretty normal and casual with a hint of awkwardness.

  5. Slim, dude likes backshots.period.

    I have a story, too! Scariest moment of my life: A few years ago, I was back at home in Miami, on school vacay. Was at the bus stop on the way to work, when this car passed by and honked, went up the street and turned around. At first, I thought it was just some dude bein extra (Miami dudes are mad aggressive). But as the car rolled up, I realized it was a chick and she hollered out the window "Heyyyy, what's up? You need a ride?" mad cool like she knew me. So being the unsuspecting person that I was, I assumed this chick was someone I knew, someone my mom knew, or someone who knows me through the fam. I mean…I was right across the street from where I grew up and right slap dab in the middle of my hood community.

    Anywhoo, I walked up to the window like "Hey…I'm so sorry, but I'm awful with names. Where do I knew you from?" This chick then pulled up, got out the car, with mad swagger and was like "Nahh, you don't know me yet, but I'm hoping to change that, nah mean?" ::confused face:: Then she says "I'm tryna give you some of that PYT, ya dig?"

    At that point, my whole world came crashing down in front of me and I wished I could snap my fingers and go to a happy place. If she were a dude, I would've quickly sucked my teeth, rolled my eyes, and had some type of snide remark ready. But I didn't know what to do. Her game was serious. I started stuttering. I just stood there. I felt so helpless. Don't.Judge.Me.

  6. Gosh, that is so awkward.. it's one of those things that can go either way..

    On one hand, I'm thinking yes, he is bc men don't normally compliment other men on their physiques or ask for a man's phone number.

    On the other hand, I'm thinking why not??? maybe he is looking for someone to work out with. Maybe he's new to the area and is trying to make friends.

    I'm no help, let's see what everyone else says.

  7. I dont know if dude was actually hitting on you but the one thing that i do know is that dude was gay. How many heterosexual men you know ask for your number and compliment you like that? I have friends who have not and probably will never ever give me a compliment.

    A similar situation happened to me in the club, I just said I'm gonna get the number later and I effectively hid from the bol for the rest of the night.

    With ice breakers that I dont want, I just dont let the ice be broken. Be cold and short. That does the trick

  8. I’m not sure if he was trying to hit on you or just socially awkward and weird. It could have been cultural, although I don’t know too many African men who are that “friendly” to people, especially other men, they don’t know for no apparent reason.

    I agree with Peyso, just be cold and that usually does the trick. I would have just acted like he was not talking to me and completely ignored him. Yeah it’s rude, but I have been harassed too many times to be nice. The way I see it, when you open yourself up to speak to a stranger, you willingly take a risk that the person may not be open to speaking with to you and will be rude. So I don’t feel bad when I do things like that.

    Since it seems as if you already kept the lines of communication open, albeit reluctantly, you could have asked him why he wanted that information.

  9. Dude was ghey. Take it as a compliment. You were just too hot to let pass.

    I have only been hit on my one lesbian. I didn't realize it til days later. It was years ago when I was in college. She was someone I worked with. It's never happened since then. Lesbians don't like me and I'm ok with that.

    When there's an unwanted ice-breaker, I engage them. I casually mention my boyfriend–even if I don't have one at the time. OR I casually suggest I hook him up with one of my friends.

  10. @slim
    dudes for their digits off the street. Thats a no-no. he approache
    In a situation like that, I would think he was gay. I don't randomly ask d you, sparked a conversation, found common threads, and went for the kill with the #. He tried to pick you up family. Period.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you gotta recognize that for what it was.. I got horror stories too, but I'll save that for another time, lol.

  11. @Babs: I was hoping "Do you work out" had been retired as a pick up line, but that's clearly not the case. Had he said "Do you work out? Cuz if not I can work you out…" his intentions would've been obvious but he would have been unconscious.

  12. Je-zus. Luigi & Nyela, you two literally made me laugh out loud. Like, I had to cover my mouth so my coworkers a) won't think I'm crazy & b) think I'm actually doing work on my computer over here. Everyone else is really giving dude the benefit of the doubt. I'm with Luigi & Babs, I saw a flashing neon GAY sign while I was reading this. And why do people keep saying "not that there's anything wrong with that?" Slim, I'm glad you have some additional insight into what we go through! I hate being rude, especially when a man comes at me correct, but sometimes you have to do it to avoid even the thought that there's a possibility of something there.

  13. As a man that has been approached way too many times by gay men, he wanted to get in your drawers (what the he11 am I doing wrong to attract this attention?).

    It's always the subtle ice breaker/compliment, small talk, and finally asking for contact info. No self-respecting heterosexual man would ask a guy those questions (where do you hang out? WTF?) in the streets, and damn sure wouldn't ask for your number. Those questions were simply so he could see you again. If you were in the gym and he stopped as said that, it may be different.

  14. @Britt: Yeah, more like D and nuggets.lol

    @hugh: I've had a couple of other incidents where dudes have yelled sumthin to me or stopped and called me handsome, but it was left at that. Though that's uncomfortable as well, it was more tolerable than this.

  15. I too was hit on this weekend by a homosexual individual. I did my best, like you did to not appear weirder out or uncomfy. She said that something I did "turned her on.". I just nodded and smiled.

    I don't think you were wrong for thinking dude was gay. Most dudes don't approach other dudes because "you look like you work out.". Suss. I think you handled it well. Just be respectful, and try to keep of moving as quickly as possible.

  16. Slim : I love this. Finally fellas are feeling what we ladies have to deal with 24/7! You're right. It ain't easy. It takes balls, or, as is more often the case, titties, to ignore these overtures.

    But you can't tell me you've never experienced a scenario where you were throwing your best game and the chick was acting like she was deaf, mute and blind to your magic.

    In my experience, if a man is intent on picking me up, there isn't a damn thing I can say that will deter his efforts. If I show him my ring, he can do better. If I say I gotta husband, he asks, "Where's he at?"

    Deaf, mute and blind (as well as not lingering and attempting to camouflage the goodies), is the only surefire method.

  17. I got such a terrible story, and theres no one to blame but myself. I went into Express for Men on a quick trip thru the mall b4 going out. I roll into the denim section and this blk dude who works there approaches me trying to sell me a t-shirt to match the jeans. I make a joke brushing it off. He responded with "HAHA thats funny. Whats ur sign?" Im thinking about how weird this cat was, but he had on Timbs, no way could he be a fruit. so I think nothing of it and proceed to the dressing room. Im trying on stuff and dude comes by asking if everything fits alright. I dig my own hole (pause) a bit deeper by opening the door to ask dude if he thought these jeans were baggier enough to rock with Timbs on since he had on Timbs his damn self. We wind up talking a little and turns out he rolls with one of my friends. Dude invites me out with them the next wkend, talking about he's gonna pop bottles and smoke up. Always a plus in my book. I give him my number and tell him to hit me up if they wind up going to the club…i know, stupid fukking me! I went to bounce, and dapped him up. This flamer had the weakest, most gay dap in the world. That was the moment I realized how badly I had just slipped up.

    This mofo calls me the next afternoon, in a bedroom voice talking about "Hey…. what are you doing? i want to know more about you." I had to slam on the brakes and tell homie that it wasnt that kind of party and lose my number.

  18. You are absolutely not wrong for concluding that he was gay.

    “So, do you work out a lot? You look like you work out.”

    This one sentence indicated zestiness to me. I am a woman…but I don't know no dudes who just start random conversations with strangers about working out, age, where you live, or really nothing. That is a female trait if I ever seen one. Him not licking his lips and what not just indicates to me that he's not flaming or that he was on the DL. I really do think its easy to just give a person the goldfish look and not say a d*mn thing to them while they talking and you walk away or just ignore them. If it had've been me (as a woman cause I don't know how guys feel about this idea) if he proceeded to keep walking with me, I would've stopped talking and started dialing 911 on my bb and asked him did he want to talk and walk with them. I'm a Southern girl so I'm super friendly, but I don't play that extra isht.

    If I felt like I was being hit on by a chick, I would simply ask are you hitting on me? Women can tell (well most women) when its more than a friendly conversation. I guess is the gaydar in us…it works on men and women.

    As far as ice breakers with people I don't want to talk to…they get a smile and no response to anything they are saying. If that doesn't work, I just let them know that I don't feel like talking and to have a nice day, night or life.

  19. lmaoooooooo! lol lol lol poor you…
    but this happened to me as well 2ice!
    d most annoying was this chick trying to talk to me in the quiet floor of the university lib!! i wus lyk chick, they'r gonna kick us both out! asked for my name, wer im from …all d ish d dude asked u..eventuali i jus gave her a wrong numba n mumbled sth about runnin l8 for my next lecture!
    u jus take it in ur stride and luk for a quick escape lyn! on d bright side…u musta bin lukin hawt naw! d guy could'nt help it..

  20. @thinkaholic

    I'm mad she was tryna chat it up in the library. Is that the hot new pick up spot? Find someone with some books and spit that crack in a whisper voice?

  21. I'm rather tickled by this story. Reminds me of when my friend told me about an encounter he had with some dude. He tried to do the benefit of the doubt thing too, but I had to spell it out for him that he'd been hit on. Dammit, I wish I'd read this earlier so I could've teased his ass when he called. I'd forgotten about it.

    Am I wrong in concluding that he was gay? How would other heterosexual folks handle it if someone of the same sex was indirectly hitting on them? And lastly, How do folks deal with ice breakers from people they don’t want to talk to?

    No, he probably was. I would handle it the way I would with someone from the opposite sex: feign ignorance & make a clean break as soon as possible. The last failed attempt at an ice breaker with me went as follows:

    *over loud music*

    L (betchya can't guess what that stands for): Hey..what's your name?

    Me: K____.

    L: So…where are you from?

    Me: Nigeria.

    L: Nice. I went to school in Nigeria. Blah, blah, blah.

    Me: "Oh." [insert nod & forced smile here] *turn back to take a sip of my drink & go on to ignore his existence*

    I was actually pretty good that night. Most of them got the message very early on. This'll make me sound mean, but I usually have a problem getting rid of people because I try to be as nice and polite as possible. When I can get away with it, I lightly adjust my headphones (a permanent fixture in my ears) as I continue walking by, so that the assumption is made that I didn't hear individual x.


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