This is what a stalker looks like in the Dominican Republic.
Meet Mr. Nasty.
Clearly, his mother never told him it isn't polite to stare. Or follow someone to the bathroom, that's tucked conveniently, and remotely, behind the tiki bar. Or blatantly change his position to get a better view.
And I thought we were just trying to get away from obnoxious toddlers at the adult pool.
Things started off innocently enough on our first full day in the paradise that is Punta Cana. With the weather forecast predicting snow at home, my husband Andre and I were beyond amazed that here, July lives on.
And bathing suits can be worn sans coats.
So, after a breakfast of freshness (hello papaya), we made our way into the sunshine and tried to set up shop beachside. But after a stiff 15mph trade 'breeze' managed, in 10 seconds, to coat our water bottles with a thin layer of sand, we opted to go a few yards inland to the 'adult' pool.
Clearly this classification had to more to do with height than mental age.
After first getting kicked out of a lovely shaded cabana bed, because we were too cheap to drop the $15 rental fee, Andre and I settled for two lounge chairs on the patio. The small area was completely under-furnished, so Andre had to drag them, ironically, from the kiddie pool.
Where Mr. Nasty, no doubt, would have gotten arrested.
Here's the thing: I understand, as a woman, a bit of appreciative observing comes with the territory. File it under 'Harmless Bikini Watching In A Tropical Environment'. And trust, I also understand, or at least thanks to my husband telling me a million times, that men are more visual than women.
But anyone with an ounce of class, or self-respect, would take in the picture with a sweeping glance. Then go about their private business. Especially when that includes a lovely lady at your Nasty side, who by all classifications, would rate as hot. Especially in her very non-American thong.
Not Mr. Nasty, whose party of two arrived on the scene minutes after us.
"This dude's acting like he's watching tv," said Andre.
So Andre and I made adjustments. I took the lounge chair the furthest away from my stalker--believing the psychological intimidation of putting a muscular black man in between the offending party should do the trick.
'Cause damn it, it usually does.
Not this time.
Things were peaceful for a while, when another couple had the tremendous misfortune of picking the spot between us. But when they abandoned their seats, at the same unfortunate time that it was for me to reapply sunscreen, Mr. Nasty clearly lost his damn mind, leaving the comfort of his chair, to settle on the steps of the pool.
Facing us. Literally feet away.
For my husband to notice at all is bad. For him to comment on it, then it's really bad.
"I'm gonna pop this guy," Andre said.
I turned to look at Andre over my right shoulder. My back was to my husband, as well as Mr. Nasty, as I attempted, in vain, to apply sunscreen hidden from prying eyes. "Why don't you take his picture?" I said half-kiddingly.
Andre's a photographer. And my protector. As well as a fierce champion of treating women with respect. My words, and essentially my permission to make a different type of scene, sparked something awesomely beautiful in him.
Andre pulled out his camera and started to shoot.
Behind my sunglasses, I closed my eyes. Because even though I had tolerated a good two hours of being 'eye-raped' by Mr. Nasty, I was uncomfortable with what was going on behind Andre's viewfinder. I fought hard to quiet the teeniest part of my soul that felt bad that Mr. Nasty was now the subject of my husband's impromptu photo shoot.
With his hyper-application of zinc oxide on his lips, giving him the appearance of a sadistic clown, and expansive gut, Mr. Nasty is the type of dude who is going to get stared at for all the wrong reasons. I felt pity for Mr. Nasty, to the point that I was willing to continue to subject myself to his blatant leering, so that I wouldn't make him feel self-conscious about his own looks.
Even when he was doing the same thing to me.
My husband? He didn't have that issue. Andre just continued snapping frame after frame of Mr. Nasty until 'he slinked away like the Lock Ness Monster'.
And we were finally free.