“So you and your friend are here alone? Just you two? Aren’t you afraid of rapists? Aren’t you afraid of getting raped in the night with a knife to your throat?” He said with a smile.
I hoped I had misunderstood. He looked me in the eye and dragged two fingers across his neck. I was in shock. He giggled and awaited my response.
While I stared at my beer, and then at the table, and then at my shoes, and then at some ash on the ground trying to process what this douche had just said to me, Meg was on the other side of the table telling his friend that no, actually, she didn’t need a lesson in French kissing.
Neither of us could believe our ears. Not five minutes earlier, one of them had asked us if we knew how to French kiss, and I said without a hint of irony that that was the only phrase every man in France knew how to say in English. Meg told them that exact line had been used on us at least once a day since we arrived. They laughed and accused me of stereotyping their countrymen. Like I said, three or four minutes later, one of them tried to diversify his game by putting “French kiss” into the phrase “would you like a lesson in French kissing?” So it was twice that day we heard it.
If you’re tired of men tuning you out at home—travel! The men here don’t waste effort pretending to listen to a word you’re saying.
As for the friend with the more evolved rape joke game, I told him that yes, I was afraid of getting raped in the night with a knife to my throat, and that was why I didn’t go home with five strange men who had just surrounded me in a bar.
We left, our beers spoiled and night ruined. This was in Lyon—we had taken a night trip there to escape the incessant sexual harassment at our day job, cleaning a hostel in Annecy.
Lyon had sick thrift shops tho. See Emma’s favourite finds here.
Before we went to Lyon there was a group of six male friends at the hostel, two of whom were sharing a bedroom with us. They had a private room of their own, yet stuck to hanging out and smoking, all six of them, in our room. I was alone with one of them for about 10 minutes, in which time he asked me if I had a boyfriend, asked me if I had a male friend, asked me if there were any males at all travelling with me, asked if he could sleep with me, asked if I could sleep with him, asked if I wanted a lesson in French kissing, asked if he could have a lesson in Canadian kissing (WTF is that?) asked if I was sure, and then asked if it was at all possible. Despite my answer that no, it was not possible, not even if he asked 18 more times, not even if he climbed the fucking mountain and did 100 push-ups, he and his friends continued to follow us around the whole night. When we declined their vodka one of them went out and returned with another bottle of what we were drinking. When we said we were going to bed, all six of them followed us into our bedroom.
I’d never felt more preyed on.
That is until the next day after they left, when I found a photo of one of their dicks on my phone. On my bed.
Before them there was Brian, who asked Meg and I both to sleep with him one day while we were eating breakfast. When we said no, he asked if we wanted a massage. When we said no, he asked if maybe later we would want a massage. When we said no he wandered away, very confused.
Unfortunately for us, Brian knew our schedule, and took to waiting for us shirtless in bed every day when we started our cleaning. Eventually, I got sick of his bullshit and when I came into his room to vacuum, in my grubbiest clothes and five minutes out of bed, told him to “shut the fuck up” when he said he wanted to have sex with me. Suddenly, Brian lost the ability to speak English.
He followed me into the hall and told me he didn’t understand. I explained again in English. He didn’t understand. I explained it in French. He said oh no! I misunderstood, you see, it was a joke. C’est une blague! See?! I’m smiling.
Well I’m not fucking smiling. Another phrase Brian didn’t understand in English.
After a few days of moping around the hostel, telling everyone we were gutless English bitches, Brian upped his strategy. He waited for us to start cleaning and left his clothes all over the counter, which he knew we had to clean. I moved them, so he put his underwear and pants there, and got in the shower. Meg went to clean his room and honestly, I was terrified what would happen when he came out of the shower and I was in there alone. In the knick of time, Meg discovered that silly Brian had been smoking cigarettes in his room. She told our boss, who came upstairs, fuming, and wouldn’t even let him finish showering. He dragged him out, screaming at the top of his lungs, and gave him 10 minutes to pack his things. We smirked through it all, halos shining brighter than the faucets. Guys like Brian tend to dig their own graves.
Before Brian there was Nao, a Japanese tourist who we thought was sweet if a bit creepy. We gave him the benefit of the doubt until he gave me a box of macaroons and started giving me a massage in the middle of the kitchen. Before travelling, I assumed guys who couldn’t have a conversation with you wouldn’t try to get with you. Lol.
Before Nao there was Thomas, who we met on our third day here. He approached us in the park while we were reading and we thought we’d hit the jackpot. Thomas was handsome, had a job, and read books! A triple threat for men these days. Then Thomas spent no less than an hour and a half trying to convince us to go back to his place to have a threesome, and when we had declined that, oh I don’t know, 37 times, insisted on maybe just a lesson in, you guessed it, French kissing.
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Has anything like this ever happened to you while traveling? Surprised how creeps try to use the language barrier to their advantage? Leave us a comment or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.