Parasites

I was surrounded by two kinds of parasites the other night. Some were mosquitoes, vying for a spot on my flesh so they could suck out my blood. The rest were middle-aged men, vying for my attention so they could sap my energy. I can forgive one of these populations, but not the other.

Let’s talk about the mosquitoes first. I did a quick internet search today and learned that among mosquitoes, the blood-suckers are the females. They somehow need blood to help fertilize their eggs.

I was sitting outside of my hotel on a humid summer night in Michigan, swatting like crazy to keep those ladies away, but they were tenacious. They wanted my blood and they would have it.

The behavior of determined female mosquitoes is annoying and leaves behind a painful toxin and hideous red bites that look like chicken pox. But it all makes sense. Those ladies risk life and limb in order to fulfill a biological purpose. I was cursing them all night, but they ignored me because they knew I had something they needed in order to secure the survival of their species. They felt entitled to my blood and so they helped themselves to it.

But then there were the men. I don’t know what search terms I would use to try to understand why they needed my attention so much.

The men were staying at the hotel for a baseball tournament that had been rained out. While I was sitting outside talking on the phone, they were inside drinking beer and causing a ruckus. They would come outside every few minutes to interrupt my phone conversation and ask none-of-their-business questions: “Who are you talking to? Is he cute? Do you want a beer? What’s your name?”

I didn’t physically swat at the men, but I was nearly as resistant to having them around me as I was to having insects all over me. But like the tenacious mosquitoes, the middle-aged men would not stay away.

The behavior of drunk, middle-aged, married men away from home and in the presence of a young single woman is obnoxious and it leaves me rolling my eyes in exasperation every time I see it. But unlike the determined lady mosquitoes, the middle-aged troglodytes’ behavior defied biological explanation. As the night wore on, and the behavior persisted, I became more stern in my refusal to make polite conversation with them. At one point, I said, “I’m on the phone, guys; please stop,” and I motioned as if I was shooing them away like mosquitoes. They had no need for my energy, but yet somehow they felt entitled to it. They ignored my rebukes and continued to try to get me to engage with them.

When the itching subsides and the red bites have faded, I will forgive the mosquitoes. Among ladies, a brazen move to secure the future of one’s species is at least understandable. My skin will recover and the food chain will remain intact.

But I cannot forgive men who have somehow developed a sense of entitlement to the attention of any females who cross their paths. That behavior is not only obnoxious, but taken to its logical extreme, it’s dangerous. The men from the other night had no respect for the social norm of not speaking to a person who is on the phone. They had no respect for my physical space, and freely helped themselves to the chairs next to me, going as far as moving my purse from a chair to the ground in order to take a seat beside me. They had no ability to see that I am someone’s daughter, and someone’s sister—and a vocal opponent of bullshit, outdated, sexist, piggish behavior.

Even the pesky mosquitoes had greater sensibility than those parasitic men. It’s a shame there isn’t a good repellent spray for the men.

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