Proxic: Toxic by Proxy

a black and white photo of a sign with triangle with an exclamation point in it at the top. Then there is a single solid line under it. Finally on the bottom, it reads "hazardous waste"
Image by Kevin Doncaster / CC BY

When Sweetness Is the Whole Problem

“I feel bad about being so upset with her,” she says. “She hasn’t really done anything wrong herself.”

I nod. “I was really surprised to hear you were having trouble with her. She’s so sweet. Not the sort of person I would ever imagine getting under your skin.”

“That’s just the thing,” she says. “It’s her sweetness that’s the whole problem.”

“Oh?”

“Look at how much she’s defended him.”

“Who?”

The Savvy Creeper

She says the name of a a guy who is known on the local scene to be a real jerk. He’s picked up a trail of minor consent violations that are never quite enough when taken individually to get him banned from anywhere. Ones that don’t coalesce well when anyone is trying to establish a greater pattern. And he has a history of being so retaliatory that people are really afraid of speaking out against him unless they have a real case.

I haven’t been on the local scene much for a few years at least, busy with work and other things. I host private parties, and most of my scene news filters in through my kinky friends who are still going to events. But even I’ve heard of him. And I can remember how uncomfortable I would feel around him whenever we’d cross paths. That uneasy feeling you get when you can tell someone is looking at you from across the room, and you turn around and they are.

His gaze had that kind of intensity, like he was always looking through your clothes. No matter what social boundaries you’d set with him, he was always “forgetting.” Or insisting that you were joking when you set them. Feigning an exaggerated kind of hurt when you turned down a hug from him, even though the last time his lazy arm grazed your breasts on the way down.

Oh, I know this guy. He’s a creeper. And one savvy enough to avoid any sort of consequences.

“That’s terrible,” I say.

Proxic: Toxic by Proxy

“It’s been the hardest part of all of this,” she says. “To see how people have become his greatest apologists. Some of the sweetest people, too. Ones who lack an emotional immune system.”

“Mm,” I say, having seen this pattern many times before. “It’s like they become toxic by proxy. Or proxic.”

She laughs.

 

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