Invaded

Last night, Ian and I went to see Dispatch play The Ryman in Nashville. I wasn’t aware at the time, but this was the first of only a handful of shows they’re confirmed to play this year in the United States. Maybe that explained the energy—a barely restrained fervor—of the crowd.

Toward the end of the show I got up to use the restroom, and when I got back to my seat I found a man sitting in it. He shoved down the pew a bit to let me sit down, and said something like, “If we’re too on top of you, just let me know.” It was the last song of the set before the encore, and I figured I could deal with being squished into the pew with one extra person for a few minutes.

But then he seemed to forget I was there. He leaned forward and spread his legs out so that his right knee was pushing against my left leg. He jiggled his feet in time with the music, stepping on my foot. I seethed, but said nothing. I moved my entire body closer to Ian, who was sitting to my right. This guy was not a large man, but he continued to spread out into my personal space, forcing me to inch out of what was rightfully mine.

And then I thought of something my Internet friend Brittney wrote once. I can’t find the post to quote her exactly, but it had to do with how men take up so much room without even noticing, and women are just expected to fold themselves inward.

That’s what I felt like I was being forced to do. And I got mad. He tapped his foot against mine again, and I kicked him. He hardly noticed.

He leaned forward and lifted up his arms, his right elbow right in front of my face. I waited a beat to see if he would move it, but he only inched it farther toward me. His entire right arm was in front of my chest and face. For no discernible reason other than he didn’t care to remember I was sitting in this pew, too. That he had moved in on my seat. I took my rolled up Hatch Show Print and smacked his arm with it, like you swat a fly you are trying to kill.

He recoiled and looked at me for a second, and then turned away. He resumed jiggling his leg into mine, and his arm moved toward my face again.

We left the show early.