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….When Even Everyday Encounters Become Fraught…..

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“Hello,” he says, as I buckle my seatbelt and tug on the hem of my pencil skirt, now riding up well above my knees. I should have worn leggings. He’s American, I think.

“Guten Tag,” I reply. Maybe he’ll leave me alone.

“Do you speak English?” Head down, he seems to be addressing my lap, as his laser-like gaze stays fixed on my knees and what he can make out of my thighs. My expensive opaque tights won’t protect me. His right leg squeezes against me.

“A little English,” I lie. It’s a little lie. My gaze is downward, too, following his eyes to my lap.

Usually, I like window seats. Looking out from the fuselage through the fuzzy Plexiglas, I feel less claustrophobic. But as with just about anything in life, negatives can offset the positives. In this case, it seems I’ll be trapped on the hour-long flight to Paris with a man who wants to chat — and maybe more.

Usually, too, I wouldn’t mind. After all, he’s not bad looking, has a sexy voice, is dressed like a successful businessman — and I have been known to love to flirt. What’s wrong now? I wonder. Why do I feel so uncomfortable, on this, my first plane trip since last fall? And then I remember and realize:

In the back of my mind is the creepy notion that at any moment this handsome, seemingly pleasant, stranger might suddenly, without the slightest warning, reach down, across the flimsy barrier of the armrest, and try to grab my pussy.

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