Defending My Honor

Wow, I’m really on a roll with this one time a week posting thing. To make up for it I thought I would share one of my experiences from today with you. This may end up being one of those you had to be there things that is really only funny if you know all the players. Not sure. I’ll just throw it out there and you can let me know what you think.

One part of the culture here that I have yet to come to terms with is getting hit on. Oh, do I have stories I can tell. One time a guy asked Chris to give me to him since, at that point, I wasn’t his wife, and I wasn’t his sister. The guy was late 40’s, overweight, and had too many gold teeth to count. One of our workers was with us at the time. He just hung his head and shook it in disbelief.

Apparently Haitian men like bigger women. If a guy has a wife or girlfriend with some good meat on her bones it basically says that he’s got it going on because he can afford to keep her fed well enough to have said meat on her bones. When Chris and I got engaged and he would introduce me as his fiance I lost track of how many times he got slaps on the back and “Ehhh man! Li gwo!” (Hey man! She’s big!) like he had just won a gold medal or something. I had to realize that they were really complimenting both of us, which was hard because my culture had always told me the opposite.

Anyway, moving back to the point. I have had guys hit on me repeatedly the entire time I’ve lived in this country. I have even had them hit on me from moving vehicles. Literally, been following trucks or tap taps and some random guy on the back is making kissy lips or waving and flapping his arms in the “Come on baby! Why not?” way. Most of the time I just laugh at them. I’ve had guys tell me in the grocery store that the love me and want to marry me. One time I told a guy he should tell my husband that and pointed at Chris and Chris just waved and smiled. They guy went over and shook his hand and apologized, and then once again reminded Chris of what a lucky guy he was.

The hardest part is that often, when they’re trying to be all suave, it kind of makes me think of this:

(It’s the lips. Sort of that puckered, puffy thing that people sometimes do when they’re trying to be sexy.)

Or this:

Except with less of a smile. More of a smoldering come hither look.

And it creeps me out. And it makes me want to run away. Or point them to the “How to Pick Up White Chicks 101” class.

Today we went to Port to do some stuff. We went to Epi D’or for lunch which made Olivia SO happy because she could eat french fries, which she’s very good at dipping in her ketchup*. When we do lunch there I usually take care of ordering and getting the food while Chris, Olivia and our friend who is frequently with us go and find a table. I have more patience than Chris to wait in line and deal with the process of ordering food, so it works.

I had gotten our food and was heading back to our table. I had to walk between two tables to get there. I started in and a guy started approaching from the other side. He stopped for a second then decided to move in and try to block me. When he did I let out and exasperated sigh to let him know I saw what he did and then turned myself a bit sideways so I could get by him and kept walking. As I did that I felt a hand run along my backside. Fabulous.

I mean, there are the accidental bumps that happen when you’re in close quarters. And then there are the “my hand is kind of open and I’m intentionally touching your butt” kinds of things. This was the later.

I walked over to our table, put the stuff down and announced that I was pretty sure some guy had just tried to cop a feel of my butt. And just shook my head. The guys asked if I knew who it was and I did. He was heading for the bathroom. I went back for our drinks and when I got back to the table Chris asked if I wanted him to go talk to the guy. I said no. But I saw our friend and knew that he wasn’t on the same page as me.

I should explain that our friend is a fairly high ranking Haitian police officer. He’s a Christian and a great guy that has bent over backwards to help us and the mission with many things in the time that we’ve known him. When we ask him why his response is, “You’re here to help my country. And I see that you want to stand up for what is right and I want to help you with that.” We’ve been really encouraged by his friendship.

As we ate I was seeing that he was keeping an eye on the bathroom entrance and I realized what was going through his head. I told him he didn’t need to go talk to anyone. I actually thought the guy was gone. But, he wasn’t. Sad for him. Sad for him because when I pointed him out and he walked back to our side of the restaurant our friend got up to go have a chat with this confused young man. After a few minutes of watching them our friend brought him over to our table and the guy was going on and on about how he didn’t do it etc. Our friend was reminding him that there are polite ways to behave around people, especially around women. At one point Mr. Bum Toucher said to me, in English, “Miss, you can see, I’m just a baby.” That warranted an ear flick from our friend. I told him, in Creole, that next time he needs to pay more attention to where his hands are going.

Both Chris and our friend were flanking Mr. BT by this time and our friend was getting annoyed because the guy wouldn’t apologize, so they escorted him over to security and had a discussion there. Our friend may have told Mr. BT that he was lucky Chris was there because if he wasn’t our friend might have hurt him (this is big talk of course). There was more ear flicking, and basically reminding Mr. BT that he needed to mind his manners around the ladies.

A few minutes later we were all piled in the car and driving away. Chris told our friend that he didn’t have to go and talk to the guy. His response? “I have a daughter. I don’t want guys treating her like that out in public. And, because I talked to him in public like that for everyone to see that will the be last time he tries to do that, especially to a foreigner.” Chris later asked me if that was what I had wanted to happen. I told him I would have been fine if nothing had happened, but that it was kind of nice to have a man stand up for me just on the basic principle that a person shouldn’t do that. And we talked about how annoying it can be to have guys treat you that way, thinking that they’re going to get somewhere with it.

Lesson of the day: If you’re going to touch Leslie’s bum your name should be Chris. If it’s not Chris, then you should not do it when Leslie is eating lunch with her police officer friend. It will end badly for you.

On the drive home Chris just kept breaking out in spontaneous giggles. It really is funny in mental re-play.

*Which she has apparently decided is good on EVERYTHING. Eggs? Check. Roast beef? Check. Rice? Check.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

9 thoughts on “Defending My Honor

  1. Sorry for that situation with Mr. BT, but I have to tell you we are laughing our heads off over here! Glad you can make a joke of it, cause we sure found it funny!
    (Oh and our kids love ketchup too… I have had to send Jeremy out late at night to buy some out of fear that our kids would eat nothing the next day without it.)

  2. Funny story. And a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, it is disgusting to be ogled (or fondled) by leering strangers; one the other, it is not a bad feeling to be thought of as desirable…
    And a little “meat” on the bones IS almost always a desirable feature for black/AA men. A big ol’ butt, big ol’ legs…it’s all good.
    From this day on I will always remember the tale of “Clever Li Gwo and Mr. BT.” Hahaha.

  3. Thanks for the laugh.When we visited Greece,some of our
    friends(Canadians) warned us about a certain shopkeeper who
    liked to touch backsides.We saw he had great Egyptian cotton
    clothing and went into the shop.He touched my wife and she
    treated him like the Italian that he was and slapped him on the face
    (a normal reaction and expected reaction in Italy).He apologized and
    we did some business.We still laugh about his “reward” for poor
    manners.

  4. So good to see you sense of humor again. It is a nice part of who you are, along with whatever else they all find desirable!
    Keep being real.
    Lori

  5. These are fun stories where I’m really learning a lot about you and Chris and the culture.
    You are an excellent writer and storyteller. Thanks Leslie

  6. I can totally picture your story in my head…so funny! It is nice to see that your friend stood up for you! We are still hoping to come to Haiti soon…possibly in September…and definitely want to see you guys. If you are in Canada when we are in Haiti, we’ll have to see you here instead. Miss you guys loads!! Say hi to Chris and Olivia from us!

    • Hey Rachelle! We were just talking about you guys yesterday and how fun it would be to go camping with our little families when we get home. We’re hoping to be able to travel mid-September and will be camping with the fam the week of the 19th, but after that maybe? A lot is going to depend on how things pan out.

  7. Leslie,
    I loved this post as this too has happened to me many times in Haiti, (not my butt grabbed per say, but being hit on by random men). Epi Dor is one of my favorite home away from homes when I am there but the male population is sometimes too friendly! I always have at least 3 large men with me. They always stand up for me too, which is nice! One of them usually will tell the guy he is my husband just for the reaction! Thanks for sharing.
    Courtney

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