Dude with Asian Fetish in Boston Public Library
Lately I’ve been meeting a lot of weirdos in the Boston Public Library area lately. Today it was an Asian fetishist in the cafe of the library. I was minding my own business, popping oyster crackers into my soup while editing a manuscript on my Kindle, when I heard someone say “Nihao.” I looked up. In the middle of the cafe was a tall, middle-aged black man trying to say hello (nihao = chinese for hello) to a short Asian woman in her 30s-40s.
“Oh…uh…hello,” she said, clutching her plate and clearly trying to get away. After a few more exchanges, eventually she walked away, and he settled into a chair.
Mentally I rolled my eyes; it’s very annoying when random dudes come up to you and say things like “Nihao” or “Konichiwa,” assuming (1) you’re Chinese or Japanese (2) that you don’t speak English by virtue of your Asiatic features and (3) that their greeting you in your “native tongue” will somehow endear them to you.
I resumed my work, aghast at the numerous typos riddling my ms, when I felt a shadow looming over me. I looked up; it was the Nihao dude.
“I know you, we’ve met before,” he said.
“Well I don’t know you,” I said. I’d never seen him before in my life.
“Yeah! I know you!” He continued to hover, as I continued to ignore him (I wasn’t going to get roped into conversation w this random dude), and finally he resettled into his seat across the room.
After I finished my lunch, I got up to throw away my garbage. The trash cans were right next to him, and not wanting to encourage him, I made a beeline for the cans.
He shot both arms up in the air and began waving at me, frantically. I pretended I didn’t see him.
“Hello, I’m saying hel-lllooo,” he said. A part of me felt badly; people in Boston for the most part are generally outwardly friendlier than in NY; maybe this was how Bostonians roll? But the more common sensical part of my brain took over and told me to stay away from this freak.
I returned to my seat. Then an older Japanese woman, 50-60s, came into the cafe. The man was immediately upon her.
“Konichiwa,” he said.
She looked petrified, but then offered a polite “Konichiwa,” back to him. But he continued to engage with her in conversation.
“I love Japan,” he said.
“Oh…” she demurred.
I was sitting behind him, and I saw the scared look on her face, so I tried to catch eyes with her. He’s a freak! I said with my eyes, shaking my head. Then I traced a circle over my ear and pointed to the back of the man, to indicate he was crazy, even though in that moment I was the one who looked crazy. Eventually the man moved away.
As she passed by me, she said, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”
I said, “He’s been harassing the other Asian woman in this cafe. Just be careful.”
One of the cafe employees had been standing next to me through most of the exchange, and I asked him, out of curiosity, “Does that guy come here a lot? Because he was just bothering me and other-”
The employee (who was actually the maitre’d of the library restaurant, which was right next to the library cafe), said, “That man? He’s here ALL THE TIME. You should go file a complaint with security at the front. In fact, come with me, I’ll take you there now.”
On the walk over to the lobby, he was telling me that that man’s been bothering other women here, and that I should take action as the victim. “That man’s got a real problem. I already filed a complaint about him, but it’s a good thing you’re going to say something.”
I spoke with security, explained what I’d seen and experienced, and they said, “There have been other complaints about that man, he seems to do this to all the Asian female patrons.”
One security guard went off in search of him, and the other, a dude in maybe his 30s or 40s, said, “What he did was bad. We should go out and flag down one of the police cars outside, and you should file a police report. Then it’ll go on his record and he won’t bother any other women again.”
In my recent Boston legal interactions, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how (A) friendly (B) helpful and concerned, and (C) quickly everybody urged me to call the police. Is that surprise due to my ignorance of the law, or is it that I’m a New Yorker that usually thinks the police will just be like, f*ck off and stop wasting our time with these “little” and “insignificant” problems? I wasn’t sure this particular interaction merited a police report, but in any case, I appreciated it.
The security guard continued, “ In any case, we’ll make sure he doesn’t come in here and bother you again.” Then: “I mean, what he did to you was wrong, but I gotta say, you got a nice body and a nice face.”
Dude, I was completely covered up from neck to toe in a baggy black fleece jacket and unfashionable jeans. I haven’t showered in almost two days. I noted with some irony how the last comment I got about my face was how it was dark and as coarse as sandpaper.
“Uh…” I said. It was flattering,I suppose, but inappropriate.
“It’s probably the last thing you want to hear in a time like now, but, you know.”
The guard’s comment struck me as similar to a comment the det.ctive assigned to my case with the racist man who’s been harassing me made to me: “You’re Korean? My uncle served in the Korean War, and he had a photo album w pictures of all the local women. He really liked the Korean women.”
Anyway, the guards called over the head of security, and the HoS told me they couldn’t find the man in the library, but the next time I see him I should contact a security guard immediately. He asked me if the man had said anything obscene to me (he hadn’t). He also said this man’s been known to bother other Asian patrons, and he was sorry that that had to be my experience in the library today. I thanked him, and was surprised my “case” merited the attention of the head of security. Again, in NY I feel like they would say, “Join the line,” or “F*ck off.”
And so…that was my experience today in the library. If you’re an Asian female and you see this man, report him immediately to security. If you need his name (which I learned from the maitre’d), then shoot me a note and I’ll send it to you.