Friday, March 19, 2010

Thanks, but no thanks: Why you shouldn't email strangers to invite them to things

Months ago, the band Lifehouse put up their tour dates on their website.  I checked them out, and while the Boston date was a Saturday night (which is convenient), I didn't think it would be easy to get tickets, and I didn't think I could afford them.  I commented on the tour date, saying that I might try to see if I could get my sister to get me tickets, but that I wouldn't be going.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a young man named Matt; he had seen my comment on the website and wanted to know if I wanted to go to the concert with him.  He had purchased tickets, but before he asked any of his friends to go with him, he thought he would invite another Lifehouse fan.  I found the email sincere, but still a bit over the line.  I politely declined his offer, and never heard from him again.

This morning, I found another email in my inbox.  Actually, two emails.  One said that someone had posted a comment on my profile on the Lifehouse site.  I logged in and read the message, which was almost identical to the second email in my inbox.

Another young man named Adam had seen the same comment and wanted to know if I wanted to go with him to the concert.  He had apparently purchased two tickets to the concert, but his friend couldn't go.  He said it wouldn't be a date or anything, but that we could meet for dinner beforehand, and he attached a photo of himself.  He also said that the ticket would be free.

Both KJ and BF agreed with me: This guy wants a date.  I politely declined his offer as well, adding that I would be busy Saturday night anyway, meeting BF's parents.

So what's the problem here?  Two men offered to take me to a concert that I wanted to go to.  What's the big deal?

The big deal is that they thought it was appropriate to email me in the first place.  And that they offered to go with me, not just sell me an extra ticket.  And that the Lifehouse website is not a dating site, where one can expect to have strangers send emails inviting one to rock concerts.

Not only that, but this ties back (for me, at least) to the whole idea of not wanting to engage or be engaged with male strangers.  If a female stranger messaged me with a similar offer, I might be more inclined to say yes (or say no, but only because I'm meeting BF's parents that night), without worrying, "What if this female stranger is into women and hits on me?"  Not only would this hypothetical situation never happen, but if it did anyway, it would be much different--for the same reason that it would never happen.  It's men who invite female strangers to concerts; it's men who say hi and demand that female strangers smile on the street; it's men who openly stare at female strangers on the train.*

* Okay, so I was reading Bonk by Mary Roach, which is the funniest book about sex ever.  She's one of the few authors who actually makes me laugh out loud for real.  And this Jewish EMT (yarmulke + EMT jacket) kept turning around and staring at me.  He was one row up on the train, and I wasn't even laughing constantly.  It wasn't like I was on the T, where you're sort of staring into space and you suddenly realize that what you thought was just space is actually this other person's face.

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