[XO Jane] I met a man I’ll call Keith at an outdoor concert in Toronto last year. I was sitting with a group of people, Jake Gyllenhaal among them (sorry for the name drop, but he factors into the story later), and Keith walked up to introduce himself to us.
I knew of Keith because he has a successful radio show in Canada. A lot of Canadians love him for his views, interviews, and radio voice.
As Keith schmoozed with the people around me, I enjoyed the concert and also tried to make Jake fall for me using telepathic love vibes. Just kidding. There were no love vibes, and the only feeling Jake had was annoyance after Keith arrived. He kept trying to talk to Jake, who wasn’t feeling his “I really want to get you on my show and maybe into your pants” vibe, so Keith soon turned his attention to me.
“Sorry, how do you pronounce your name again?” he said.
“Um, Carla,” I replied.
“Oh, I thought it was more complicated, like Carafalooota,” he said. I laughed.
A few minutes later, the concert was over, and my party and I left.
The next day, I sent Keith a public Twitter message saying it was nice to meet him. It was. I, like many Canadians, was a fan of his show.
Actually, truth be told, I’ve never listened to his show, but still, I appreciated him as a talented radio personality.
Keith wrote me a private message soon after saying he read some of my work online and really liked my writing. He also asked me if I’d like to join him to see Metric play the next night at the Opera House.
I’d always wanted to see Metric live, and I thought I might be able to make Keith my best gay friend in Toronto. I was still a newbie and needed friends. I also figured that the friendship might lead to exciting Toronto career opportunities down the line. He did say he liked my writing.
The next night, I met him at a wine bar for a quick drink before the show. When I walked in, I was greeted by both the overwhelming stench of his cologne and the sinking feeling that Keith was not, as I had assumed, gay. This wasn’t a friend date; it was a date, date –- at least to him.
He looked at me the way a creepy older man looks at a young, silly girl he’s going to buy a drink he’s planning to slip a roofie into. I didn’t know what to do. He was 15 years older than me, but what’s more, I found him totally unattractive and didn’t want to be on a date with him.
But I couldn’t just leave.
“So, you’re friends with Jake Gyllenhaal?” he asked.
“No. I met him yesterday and we talked about baseball for five minutes,” I said.
“Oh. He seems like a jerk, eh?” he said.
“I thought he was nice,” I said.
Nervous and trying to avoid eye contact with him, I proceeded to talk about nothing in particular for the next 20 minutes with such speed, he might have thought I had just done an eight ball in the bathroom.
He checked his phone approximately 35 times and mentioned the memoir he was writing about 10 times. Apparently, he was in a band when he was younger, or something. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Before my drink was finished, Keith rushed me out of the bar to get to the concert down the street.
In front of the small venue, he introduced me to a bunch of people he thought I would know.
“You’re meeting the who’s who of Canadian indie rock!” he whispered into my ear enthusiastically. I had no idea who they were, but most of them had cool beards. The way he introduced me, however, was disconcerting. I was being “presented,” in the same way Tom Cruise used to present Katie Holmes on red carpets. I did not like it.
I wanted to let him know I wasn’t into him, but he seemed like a harmless dork, and I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his bearded friends.
As I talked to one of them, I’d look up every now and then to catch a glimpse of Keith staring at me intently with a strange smile on his face. He was giving me the heebie jeebies and, again, I wanted to leave.
But Metric. It’ll be fine once we’re inside, I thought, we’re just watching a concert.
There was no assigned seating, and we were standing on the balcony. As soon as the lights went down, and the first notes started playing, I felt a sweaty hand travel across the back of my dress and grab my ass.
That hand was Keith’s.
Shocked, I looked up at him like “WHAT?!” He looked back at me with sex eyes and smiled. Disgusted, I asked him to stop, and stepped away from him and his hand.
This is Metric playing the Opera House. Emily Haines, can you hear my heart beating like a hammer? HELP ME!
I figured he’d get the point since I moved, but instead, he followed me. I watched the concert intently, but he soon grabbed my hand to hold it.
His friends were right behind us, and they all smiled when I looked back. Despite my extreme discomfort, I felt I couldn’t tell Keith off, so I discreetly pulled my hand away, crossed my arms over my stomach and stared straight ahead.
When he started rubbing my back, I again told him to stop, and when he put his hand over my shoulders, I said I was hot and lifted it off.
“Oh yeah, you’re hot,” he replied.
Dying inside, I felt sad that not only had I lost interest in watching Metric, but they were also starting to sound like tainted torture music.
I was planning my exit strategy when Keith grabbed the strap my large purse and took it off my shoulder.
“What are you doing?” I said.
“Shhh,” he replied, placing my purse on the ground and slipping his arm around my waist to pull me closer.
“What the fuck?!” I said. “You don’t put a woman’s purse on the dirty ground.” Apparently, I have more respect for a leather purse from my mom than for my own body. Not really — but this was my breaking point.
“But it’s in the way,” he said. He seemed intrigued, and challenged, by my passionate reaction.
“I’ll be back.” I couldn’t take it anymore. Keith had gone from harmless dork to repulsive sexual predator.
I ran down the stairs and called my sister from the bathroom. “What do I do?” I was concerned that he would somehow ruin my fledgling career in Canadian media forever if I bailed on him, as stupid as that sounds.
“Get outta there,” my sister said. I wanted to. Desperately. Running down the stairs had given me a taste of the freedom that could so easily be mine if I just ran outside and never looked back. But I didn’t want to be rude, and I thought it best to leave on good terms.
(This is the part where I really want to go back in time and shake myself.)
I did what any good, failed Catholic girl plagued by a crippling sense of guilt would do: I lied.
“I have to go, I have a terrible headache — a migraine. I also have to work very early. Sorry,” I said, looking towards the EXIT sign with a renewed hopefulness that I hadn’t felt in hours.
“Oh no. I’ll drive you,” he said.
“NO! I mean, no. I don’t want to ruin the show for you. I’ll get a cab.”
“I can’t let you take a cab if you have a migraine,” he said, leading me down the stairs with a “concerned” creepy hand on the small of my back.
I insisted on taking a cab until I realized that he was walking me to his car, which was right outside.
All but defeated, I got into his car, pissed off that I was doing so, and stared out the window listlessly.
Even though I had a terrible fake migraine, he insisted on talking to me.
“Do you recognize the colors of my car?” he said.
“They are black and red. Like Spider-Man?” I said.
“Ha! No. That’s silly. They’re the colors of my show,” he laughed.
“But your show is on the radio, and I don’t listen to it,” I confessed. I was DONE.
“Did I tell you I’m writing a book?” he asked.
“Multiple times,” I said. “You can stop here.”
We were a block from my apartment and there was no way he was going to know my address.
“I’ll walk you to the door,” he said, unbuckling his seatbelt.
“No, you won’t,” I said. “Thank you for the concert and the ride. Have a good night.”
He leaned in and I avoided his lips by giving him a half-hearted hug, but he still managed to peck the side of my pursed mouth as I was turning to get out of the car. I urgently yanked on the door handle until the door sprang open, and scurried out.
Once I reached my front door, I started crying in shame. A thick layer of self-loathing had settled over my once-optimistic heart. Why had I handled the night that way? Why didn’t I tell him he was acting like as asshole and I only agreed to meet him because I, like the rest of Canada, thought he was gay? Why am I so passive in awkward situations? WHY? WHY? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?
I had a hot shower to remove his gross cologne stench, which had stuck to me like an airborne virus.
The next morning, I awoke to a text from him.
“If you’re late for work, blame it on me ;)”
I didn’t reply to Keith’s text, thinking that he would take the hint; but based on past experience I should have known Keith does not a hint take.
As his messages became more and more pathetic, (e.g., “Did we break up already?”), I eventually confessed the truth and told him that I was sorry but I thought it was a friend date, not a real date, and I wasn’t interested.
To this, he replied: “Eeep! Totes diff. vibe from yest.” (He actually texted those words. Like that. To a girl he was interested in.)
Over the next two weeks, his texts begged me to give him another chance. He even went so far as to promise that he looks better with TV makeup on, like that would make a difference.
I felt sorry for him. Clearly being a C-list Canadian celebrity hadn’t afforded him any “game.”
He finally stopped texting, but every time his name came up in conversation, or I saw his face in an ad, I cringed.
In talking to my friends Crystal and Melissa, I found out that Keith has tried his same creepy-ass moves out on many other girls. He once lured a friend of theirs into a hotel room to “watch a movie,” and tried to sleep with her once she sat on the bed. She, too, had thought him harmless and gay beforehand.
This is me now. Hardened. Suspicious. More Lucille 1 than Lucille 2. I’ll stop making Arrested Development references now.
Two months later, I was walking down the street and passed a man who was wearing an offensive amount of Keith’s pungent cologne. Overcome by scent-memory nausea, I vomited into a nearby trashcan. A concerned older lady came up to me. “Are you pregnant, dear?” she asked.
“Only with disgust, thank God,” I said, smiling. She smiled back, perplexed.
And that was how I expelled the gross feelings left over from the worst “date” I’ve ever gone on.