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Fear of the dork

I disagree with your advice to "The Hunted," the woman who said a co-worker was stalking her at work. I agree she should be more direct, but what about "He's been asking co-workers about me and finding me on breaks" says this guy's harmless? Sometimes those "little things" turn ugly fast. A woman should heed that warning bell that something's wrong. Yet, you mocked her, saying, "Come on, a guy at work gives you reason to believe he has a crush on you and the shower music from Psycho comes into your head?" Do you really think "Thanks, but no thanks" will deter him? She needs to say it once in front of witnesses. Then it's Human Resources time. Wary Woman

Yesterday, I asked a stock boy at the supermarket to help me get a jar off the top shelf. Before he could, another stock boy handed it to me. The first stock boy pouted, "I wish I coulda helped you." Later, he circled back and complimented me on my skirt. So, I tased him.

OK, so I didn't exactly tase him. I thanked him and kept shopping probably a dumb move, since, as you point out, "Sometimes those "little things' turn ugly fast." Yeah, you never know when the stock boy will follow you to your car, clock you with a can of tomato paste, drive you to your place and make you watch as he gets your Wheaties down for you.

I'm not saying women shouldn't be careful. I'm saying they shouldn't go hysterical the moment they get attention from a man. Take this woman, who claimed she was being "stalked." The U.S. Department of Justice defines stalking as "repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, (or) contact ... that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear." Whoops! There's that warning bell you mention. Only, if this woman heard one, it was "Ding! Ding! Ding! He's beneath me! He's ugly and socially awkward, and he's asking me out!"

Sure, he asked co-workers about her a quaint thing people with crushes used to do in the days before Googling. And sure, he's tried to bump into her on her breaks. A few times, not 300. That's probably why she wasn't seeking advice on protecting herself, but snarky ways to tell a loser she's out of his league.

Do I really think "Thanks, but no thanks" will deter him? Well, probably better than "Shoot me an e-mail" her response when he said he hadn't stopped thinking about her. Most obediently, he complied, and invited her out for a meal. She still didn't turn him down. Instead, she e-mailed me, telling me she'd reported the guy to her boss: "This man asked me to lunch! Or dinner, if that was better for me."

Now, I'm guessing the guy wears button-downs, not a jeweled turban, and uses Word for Windows, not Word for Crystal Ball. If so, the telepathic "no" won't cut it you actually have to tell him you aren't interested: clearly, firmly, the sooner, the better. If, after you shut him down once or twice, he keeps after you, that's when you call for reinforcements. But, stalking expert Gavin de Becker advises in The Gift of Fear, if more women would "explicitly reject" advances, "stalking cases would decline dramatically." Meanwhile, more women should also recognize that the "gift of fear" is the gift of appropriate fear being alert to danger, but understanding that, most of the time, "Have a nice day" means "Have a nice day," not "Have a nice day bound and gagged in my trunk."

Elder hostile

I'm a 34-year-old guy who consistently passes for 25. I graduated from college last year, so there's no realistic reason for me to have learned how to coexist with women my age. How do I find a youthful relationship? I have great rapport with women in their 20s until they (or their friends) find out how old I am. Wrong Number

Wow, you pass for 25. Guess what: so do guys who are 25. Some college girls might be into an older guy, but no girls are into older liars. OK, so you aren't technically lying with a Facebook page that says "Class of 2007." But, when girls learn you were also in the high school class of 1992, you become about as popular as the narc in the after-school special who isn't really a pimply-faced student, but a pimply-faced 34-year-old cop. There's nothing wrong with liking younger women firm flesh, more compliant nature and all that. But, if they aren't liking you back, maybe work on your rapport with women your own age. You might be pleasantly surprised. Even if the real deal behind all this youth mongering is that you've seen the shape of things to come and you suspect it's lumpy and wants a baby.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

  • Women shouldn't go hysterical the moment they get attention from a man.

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