Harassment Starts Punctually at 5:45 a.m.

Or What Happened from January 28 to February 4, 2012

After having attacked my friend’s housesitter with pepper spray, and offering him a Dove chocolate in peace, he decides to strike back, all passive-aggressive style. And here I was thinking that I was going to get a standing ovation from him because I’m a woman armed with pepper spray and a stun gun.

For the next nine days, Paco gets to the apartment at 5:45 a.m. and just SITS THERE in the living room, while I either prepare for teaching my SAT classes, copyedit high school essays, get ready to go serve breakfast at the restaurant at 7 a.m, or study physics.

The days where I got to leave the apartment before 7 a.m. are my favorite because:

For the next nine days, Paco just SITS THERE in the living room asking me over and over whether I have a boyfriend, whether I have ever been engaged (I deflected that one with “engaged in what, exactly?”), and whether I would be interested in dating a man his age. (Mind you, he’s married.) And hey, do you want to go see Red Tails with me, Pola?

I give curt answers and continue working. When you have to correct 27 SATs, especially their math sections and let the kid know what and how he did the problem wrong, plus 7 essays, you really have no time to talk. Plus, I don’t want to talk to this guy because all he wants to talk about is sex. Witness:

“Have you ever seen horses have sex?”

“Have you ever seen a stallion’s penis? Lucky guy.”

“Did you know that a man got arrested in one of the Lesser Antilles for having sex with a mare?”

“Is it true there’s a photograph of your aunt naked on the Internet?” (huh?)

“You have a beautiful smile.”

“Nice cute little ass.”

Excuse me, sir? Aren’t you 58? Has it occurred to you that I could be your daughter?

I am beyond disgusted and horrified on a daily basis.

Here’s the problem, when you have no place to go, you really have no choice but to sit there. Plus, I have Lucas. I don’t trust leaving Lucas with this psychodirtman. At one point, he said: “Are you afraid I’m going to hurt Lucas?” Yeah, exactly.

If I hadn’t had Lucas, then I would have gone to a Starbucks and sat there with my laptop. But no, I couldn’t have done that either because I have so many books laid out in front of me when I work, that even that possibility would not have been a possibility.

On the seventh day, I thought Paco would give it a rest. But no. On the seventh day he drops the following bomb: “You have a great body. You look like a little porcelain doll. I think you’re sexy. A man would be so lucky to have sex with you.”

And that’s when I almost had an apoplexy.

Let me tell you something about my physical appearance right now. I look like shit. I’m pretty honest when it comes to my own physical self-assessment. You see, I’ve been dealing with a serious thyroid condition since last year. As a result, I have lost 10 pounds of weight (and I am slim to begin with), my hair has fallen out (I have to use a wig sometimes to step out in public because it’s that bad), my eyebrow hair has also fallen out, and my overall skin has a sickly pallor. Not only that, but thanks to the thyroid, I’ve gotten back my adolescent acne. So I’ve been using Tazorac, which is a retinoid, to get rid of it. When you use Tazorac, your skin gets bright red, flaky, and sloughs off during the day. It also pushes whatever acne you may ever have in the future right to the surface of the skin in the present.

So, my face is full of cystic acne. And if you’ve ever had cystic acne, you know it’s the kind of acne that is extremely painful to the touch and to your face.

I also have braces, and I wear glasses all the time because my vision has changed drastically with the thyroid having gone haywire.

In short, I LOOK AWFUL. But it’s ok, because I know it’s going to get better. I have complete faith. Of this, I have no doubt. What’s that platitude? “This too, shall pass.” Thank you, platitude.

Now, you may ask yourself, “Why haven’t you spoken up for yourself during all this time? Why haven’t you done something about it?”

Well, let’s talk about the fact that I’m not supposed to be in my friend’s apartment in the first place. You see, the apartment belongs to her parents, and her parents abhor dogs and anything belonging to Nature. There’s a rule in that apartment: no dogs allowed, Snoopy.

Plus, let’s talk about the fact that Lisa has made Paco swear not to tell her parents that I’m there with a dog. If I were to defend myself, he would directly go to her parents (who are currently in NYC), and then they would have me thrown out, and then I would have to end up living in my car in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Hospital. Something I’m trying really, really hard to avoid. When you have nowhere to stay, you have nowhere to stay, so I decided I was going to put up with it.

But I couldn’t rationalize nor justify Paco’s last comments anymore.

I don’t answer him, but I do load up Lucas with his leash. I place my laptop in its case, take my purse, and walk out the door. It’s 6:00 a.m., and I hope to God that a Starbucks is open somewhere.

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