En route to dinner with a friend, I stopped by Occupy Wall St. I did a cheer, talked to a man about how apparently JP Morgan is the bank affiliated with food stamps, chatted with a few random people, did a cheer. I was ready to leave, maybe do one more cheer, when I heard a guy yell, "Hey cheerleader."
My pompom was small and I wasn't cheering, but I thought he, like others, must've recognized me from cheering the other day.
I stepped back and smiled.
He got up out of his chair. He was probably about 65.
"You're so pretty," he told me.
"Uh, thanks." It wasn't told in that complimentary way, but the way where you are glad your jacket is zipped up, but you suddenly wish you had a down coat on too so he couldn't see your shape.
"Can I get a kiss?" he said suddenly, leaning in really close.
"No! No!" I told him. I darted away and he shrugged his shoulders.
"What just happened?" This activist guy yelled. I told him. He started screaming at the man.
"You gotta leave! You can't just sexually assault people. Leave. You've been sitting there all day, leering. We don't want you." The activist guy picked up the old guy's chair and tossed it out of the park. Others began gathering around.
"Calm down," people told the activist guy, who was admittedly rather worked up.
"No! We can't have people in here like that."
I again explained my story, and again. And everyone nodded. "The guy shouldn't be in the park - that's not cool - but this other guy needs to chill," I told someone.
I felt sleazy and uncomfortable. I didn't do my final cheer. I slunk out of the park, heading to the train, hating how people can just make you feel a certain way, despite you not letting them. It just happens.
And while the activist guy seemed crazy to some, I thank him for defending me.