Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The Worst Thing a Woman Can Call a Man

E_____ and I stood outside a movie theater waiting for a guy to text her directions to his apartment. She was paying him back for stiffing him out of a $5 cab fare after he called her a cunt; I was accompanying in bodyguard capacity, because while I’m not physically threatening I can glower and act crazy. His verbal aggression was more likely a defense mechanism than misogyny looking to turn physical, but for some reason she was equally worried about the damage he could do to her reputation among mutual friends (she’d gotten drunk at a party and yelled at him for being a prick). Should he decide to get nasty, she wasn’t sure what verbal recourse she'd have, but I didn’t think it would be a problem. After all, she had the biggest weapon women have against reasonably self-aware men — the word that makes us stay up at night.

“E_____,” I started, “Even if he shit-talks you, you have the upper hand. Because you know girls, and because you can lay the worst thing on him that a guy can be called.”

“What’s that?” she asked.

“You can call him creepy.”

Let me explain.

Without a doubt, creepy is the worst casual insult that can be tossed at a guy. A guy can publicly scoff at something you say and be a “douchebag;" sleep with your best friend, never call her back and become an “asshole;" cry while listening to Neutral Milk Hotel and forever be a “pussy.” But creepy is not that simple. It doesn’t relate to someone’s appearance, actions, or behavior. More accurately, creepy is a vibe. You can’t define it — you just know it. It’s when a guy looks at a girl for a little too long, when he friends her on Facebook a little too quickly, when he doesn’t understand that no actually means no, not “Try harder.” It’s a tag that isn’t easily dispelled — after all, what are you supposed to say? “I’m not creepy! I’m NORMAL! I say normal things and act like a human being!”

Creepiness is inextricably linked to sexual intent, casting you in the same light as someone who refers to his list of hook-ups as his "A-Team," or someone who flashes his dick on the subway. And while there are plenty of dudes out there who come on way too strong in the Quest to Hook Up — duh! — a lot of them (us?) are simply naïve and overeager. Wanting to watch a movie isn’t always a disguised attempt to put things in you, but sometimes an attempt to, you know, watch a movie. When that attempt at friendship is misconstrued as an attempt at fucking, it’s accusing us of an intention that we never really meant in the first place. It calls everything into doubt. “Is it weird to want to be friends? Is it strange that I like her personality and think we could hang out? Should I ever approach women again? Should I ever do a thing?”

Ironically, the last time I got called creepy it was because I was hitting on someone, but hear me out. I’d met this girl at a party and we'd spent spent most of the night talking, drinking, commiserating, etc., and at one point she'd looked me in the eye and literally said “I like you.” Then she asked me to walk her home to her apartment 20 minutes away. I’m not bright, but I’m not blind. We left the party and walked to her apartment, where this exchange occurred.

Her: “So, I think I’m just gonna go upstairs and go to sleep.”

Me: “Uh… really?”

Her: “Yeah, I think I’m tired.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Her: “Well, what did you expect?”

Me: “I don’t know, I thought maybe you were thinking of inviting me in?”

Her: “That’s weird. It’s kind of creepy of you to think something was going to happen just because we left together.”

Readers, this blew my mind. I gaped like a fish, stared at her for a few minutes while muttering an apology and a platitude about how nice it was to meet her, then stumbled to the train in a daze like a soldier coming out of the jungle. Where the fuck am I? Did I make it? How? The train ride home was a very long 30 minutes.

In retrospect, my reaction was the creepy thing. The appropriate response would’ve been, “Well, that’s unfortunate and I’m sorry if I made you feel weird. Good night!” Or simply, “Pfff, you are drunk and fuck you. Good night!” Then I would’ve gone home and played Madden for like three hours. Instead, I ran this dumb scenario in my head for two weeks and after coming to an internal resolution, willed the girl’s face and name out of my memory. When I think about her, a thousand butterflies and rose petals cloud my memory like a music video being censored (specifically, “This Love” by Maroon 5).

What I wanted my friend E_____ to understand was that, for guys, being called creepy is worse than being called an asshole. Assholes are kind of charming, as Kanye West has famously expounded upon. They have pathos. Creepy guys are not and do not. And this guy — the $5/cunt guy — he was genuinely being a creep! He’d told her that he didn’t want to collaborate on a project because he was attracted to her and didn’t want to waste time laughing at her crummy ideas while slowly trying to convince her to touch his penis. (Consensually, of course.) This wasn’t even some theoretical creeping, seen with an overreacting eye — it was legitimate, words-you-don't-say-out-loud-to-a-human-being type shit. AND he’d called her a cunt? Please. She could ruin him much more than he could ruin her. It was almost unfair — no one woman should have all that power, right?

She was convinced she wasn’t about to get punched, so we rang the doorbell and waited for him to appear. When he came down, she immediately said (after apologizing), “I brought Jeremy as a bodyguard so you couldn’t knife me” so matter-of-factly that I blanched inwardly. It was cold-blooded, and he reacted with complete immobility. But 20 minutes after we left, he texted another apology and invited her to get a drink sometime. Was he genuinely sorry, or was the implication of creepiness too much to handle? She didn’t respond, and we went to go watch the Celtics game.

Related: What's the Worst Thing a Man Believes He Can Call a Woman?

Jeremy Paul Gordon is a professional intern who misses Chicago very much. He just discovered Blu-Ray and now thinks DVDs are for poor people.

53 Comments / Post A Comment


I know, but do adults use the word?

Slava Sakhnenko

Umm.. I think the appropriate response after she said “Well, what did you expect?” is something like "Oh.. nothing. I'll see you around!" and ask for her number. Not any of those alternatives you have thought up...


Indeed. ALL of the possible responses provided are, in fact, creepy.


Agree, totally. The only appropriate response to her "I think I'm going to go upstairs and get some sleep" would be something along the lines of "have a great night, I'm happy to have seen you safely home". That would have set him apart as a gentleman and made her interested. The repeated "really?" and "are you sure?" would have creeped me out as well.


I agree. There isn't that fine of a line between gentlemanly and creepy, and it's best to steer clear of guys who cross that line anyway, helped along with short fuses and senses of entitlement.

Katie Walsh

I appreciate this insightful story, and in fact I am now drunk on my own power to ridicule men. But, 'splain me why this girl was paying a dude back $5 after he called her a cunt? That makes no damn sense AT ALL.


Yeah, that was confusing, and her worried about him ruining her rep around mutual friends? Like...he called you a cunt and made you repay $5 to him, I think he's prob the worst person ever.

Bro-lo El Cunado

Agreed. I think my response to his demand that I repay him $5 AND him calling me a cunt would have been to pretend he did not exist.


Seriously?! Over 5 freekin' dollars?! Makes for a good story, but yeesh...not worth the trouble.


I imagine her knocking, delivering the "don't knife me" line, tossing $5 worth of dimes on the floor of his apartment and then leaving.

Patrick M

I am sorry you told the girls about this, but I did not know about the "Well, that’s unfortunate and I’m sorry if I made you feel weird. Good night!" counter-manœuvre, so thanks?
Also: use of ligatures on the internet. Not creepy, right?


Ligatures are never creepy!

Leaving ligature marks...that's different.


Ligatures: SO CLASSY.

lindsay robertson

I wouldn't go to a guy's apartment and pay him back for a $5 cab ride if he was perfectly nice to me, much less if he called me names. (Also isn't a $5 cab ride like THREE BLOCKS?) What is wrong with E______? (Or let's just call her "Elizabeth," since that's her likely name.) And, sadly, it was creepy of you to argue with the girl who didn't invite you up, but that's just a youthful misjudgment/entitlement, not evidence of to-the-bone creepiness.


No. Not fair to call the author creepy. Consider that neither party knows the other's intentions at the door. I can totally imagine saying to someone I'd just spent hours carousing with, well I'm going to go upstairs to bed? and he might be all, are you sure?, because maybe *I* am the one who is misreading the whole thing (and I want to confirm whether he is even showing interest) and then I totally might go WELL just for a drink but that is ALL, or something like that, or even Okay then let's go, Tiger.

Also, I loved the writing in this.


Ima defend Jeremy a little, in that "I like you, walk me to my apt. 20 minutes away" does strike me as a provisional invitation--which she probably reconsidered over the sobering, 20 minute walk home. This is totally her right and he should have gracefully refrained from pushing it like he did, but calling him creepy sounds more like turning her regret for her own hastiness back on him. But my real point is, the power of "creepy" is super useful information for women to have, so thank you, sex-traitor.


Provisional invitations are the worst. I had a girl invite me into her bed for the night only to act like I was being weird when I moved in for a kiss. I was nice about it, but internally there was a bit of UM HELLOOOOOOOOOO???


I am incredibly disappointed at the lack of Radiohead/TLC lyrics in this thread right now.


@Evie and Doctor: agreed. If she had a change of heart on the way home, why not just say so at the door?

@Melis: You're just like an angel, and your skin makes me cry.


Can the power of "jerk" be confirmed? In my mind a jerk is a hateful bozo who ends up sad, lonely, and sartorially outdated.


No a jerk is any man who refuses to let himself be taken advantage of, someone who doesn't just accept some chick wanting something for nothing.

George Kr

i think the worst thing a woman can call a man is a "mook".

also i though that e was edith and the "creepy guy" was saythatscool?


They are the same person, according to Edith. Sort of like Norman Bates and his mother?


I don't even know what a "mook" is. Does anybody outside of the NY/NJ area actually use that word?



When she calls you creepy....

"I was just trying to be nice...I noticed that you've gained a little weight and seem a little sad...and, you know, not very focused lately. If you—oh, I don't know. Your thighs, maybe, and your neck. The backs of your knees, whatever you call those? Anyway, I wasn't sure it was a good idea for you to be alone tonight, but, if that's what you want...of course I'll come up. But I can only stay for a few minutes. Unless you need me, of course."


I like "creepy", too. It's got an element of "you're not normal" PLUS pathetic-ness to it, that no man wants to feel.



Yes, that is the perfect word. Storing it away for later use, only if necessary...


Wow dude sorry to hear that. Crap like this one of the reasons I'm glad I'm not white. I'd rather be threatening than "creepy" any day. White girls don't dare pull that shit on us...

...creepy for wanting some ass?


Slut and Cunt have been thrown around as a female analog to creepy but they're too jaring. If you were to hear them you're just as likely to think less of the person using them as the intended subject.

I think a term that captures a similar spirit for a woman in both tenor and meaning would be saying she's "crazy" or has "crazy eyes".

Both creepy and crazy-eyes imply the person is operating outside of normal social cues, possibly desperate and is potentially uncomfortable to be around.


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No, your reaction was not the creepy thing. Your assumption that she would bring you upstairs was the creepy thing. Just because a girl says she likes you doesn't mean "let's have sex". If you legitimately liked this girl you would have been satisfied with how she felt, walked her home and maybe asked if you could see her again at a later date. You acted way too fast and with your dick, not your heart or your brain. The fact that you don't realize how badly you fucked up does indeed make you creepy. Glad she didn't take you upstairs.

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