Studying abroad in London, I had high expectations. Most of those expectations have been fulfilled. With these expectations, naturally came the expectation that I would fall in love with a young British chap who was getting his masters at Oxford, who hung out with Will and Kate occasionally, and had great teeth. Nothing too unattainable. Except maybe the teeth thing. This simple request has yet to be fulfilled but I came really darn close in the Hyde Park this past weekend…
I’ll set the tone: It was a beautiful day in London and Tati, a friend of mine, and I were going for a walk in the park trying to find Kensington Palace. We were on one path with no other people except one man walking in front of us. All the sudden this older man turned around to talk to us. He asked for directions to the Peter Pan statue which sounded like an innocent question even though the path we were on passed the Peter Pan statue and we were walking in the opposite direction and there were multiple signs pointing in the direction to the statue. Red flag. The man seemed like he was in his early forties because his hair was slightly graying and he gave the appearance as someone who could have multiple children so I assumed (never assume) that he was just a friendly guy when he started making small talk. He started asking more specific questions about us like our names, where we were studying, what our travel plans were, how much longer we were in London, where we were from in the United states and me being the naive suburban girl I am, I answered all the questions without hesitation. I don’t know why I didn’t just give him my address and room number while I was at it. Regardless, he seemed like he was just a naturally friendly person. Some point early on Tati drifted away like a sane human being and left me to make small talk with the stranger. He made a weird comment about how much he liked Americans. Red flag. At this point we had been talking for about 10 mins even though his original ‘intent’ was asking for directions. I was being very polite UNTIl… he asked if we wanted to go to his house for ‘drinks’. RED FLAG. I thought this elderly man (really only 40 but that’s a life time away from me) was genuinely lost when in reality he probably never intended on seeing the peter pan statue, his loss. My deemer changed real quick. I don’t get asked out by a lot of guys, I know surprising, so I don’t understand proper protocol for rejecting someone. I told him we were going out of town for the weekend, which was true, and thought that would be the end when he proceeded to say “I’m sorry, I just really like you”. WE HAVE SURPASSED RED FLAG. I will admit that I am a very likable person but something told me that he was using that as code for something else. He then repeated that phrase a few more times while I stood there paralyzed by fear. Although I was uncomfortable, I stupidly did not run for the hills. Alex (I forgot to mention his name before but it’s Alex) then changed his tactic and asked if I’ve smoked water vapor. I am not hip with the drugs so I asked if he was talking about hookah which he said no but then described in detail what you did and it sounded like hookah. Again, I don’t do the drugs so I could be wrong. I politely declined, although my voice was a little shaky by this point, and said I didn’t do anything involving inhaling substances. I then tried to make a nice exit at that point but he proceeded to ask for my number. I told him it was international and I couldn’t use it in London. That was my polite way of saying no but then he said “we could viber, Skype, what’s app” this old guy was surprisingly up to date with his technology. At this point I was all out of polite excuses and just said no. He pleaded a few more times with “I’m sorry, I just really like you” but I pretended we had a reservation at 4 in the afternoon that I suddenly remembered we were late for. Hopefully that is the last time I will see Alex.
Although I have yet to meet a nice, young, charming Prince Harry look alike, I got pretty close. Just kidding. This was to date the most traumatizing experience thus far in England but I think it taught me a valuable lesson about strangers that I think I was suppose to learn in Kindergarden. Don’t talk to them. Have I found my european boyfriend? no. But was I pretty close? still no. I will keep you all updated because the search is still alive and thriving.
This picture represents how I felt during this experience.
Tara Kristine Jacobson