The first time I vividly remember it happening to me was when I was walking into my apartment in Columbus, although just writing this makes me reluctant to call this the ‘first time’ because I’m sure that it had to have happened during my college days (which are a tad bit blurry and/or all blur together). Anyways, I’ll just emphasize that it was the first time I vividly remember this occurring.
“You’re awful pur-dee,” he said with a nearly toothless grin. “What’s your name?”
With some hesitation, which is rare because I never have a back-up (fake) name and typically respond quite instantly, I found my voice to respond, “Minnie.” Which isn’t exactly a lie since a group of friends does refer to me as such. (Note: Come up with fake name for such situations, and probably with a fake number and email address too.) Anyways, that’s really all I remember about that ‘memory’, but was worried that he was going to be waiting in that spot for pur-dee little Minnie.
Instances #2 and #3 happened within the same week or two, which I now recognize as my initiation to Chicago as they happened almost immediately after the move. Initiation or not, they most certainly taught me a lesson that I still carry with me today: Don’t talk to people on the bus in Skokie. (Over time that led to don’t talk to people on the bus or train anywhere. Few exceptions made.)
I’ll paint the scene of Instance #2 in just a few words: Train; Skokie; Night; Crazy Man; Brain Surgery; Old Email Address.
And Instance #3: Bus; Skokie; Night; “Do you speak Russian?”; “…be my girlfriend?”; (Seriously?); Uncomfortable smile & “No, sorry.”; (Wow.)
Since those uncomfortable situations, I’ve learned to keep to myself as much as possible. There was another “Will you be my girlfriend?” request on the train one day last spring, when on my way to visit Karrie, where I pulled out the (lie), “Sorry,I have a boyfriend. I’m on my way to see him now.” I was a little worried that he would follow me for proof. He didn’t. Maybe I’m getting better at lying or more convincing with my fake, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend” line. Unlikley. (Note: Practice “Sorry, I have a boyfriend”
Now other than getting the “Doll, you have a beautiful smile.” from my favorite Street Wise selling admirer and the creepy stares & Spanish-accented cat calls , I have to say that I’ve become completely oblivious to any attention- if there has been any at all- that may come my way from creepy commuters or those passing by on the street.
Wait, I think there may have been one occurrence on a plane…yes, he was obviously very drunk…but I was able to purposely pass out to avoid anything completely uncomfortable from happening. (Note: Wear a fake engagement or wedding band on the plane for such situations. And it may be best to come up with a believable proposal story and a fake wedding date.)
Anyways, this brings me to last night, which could have been avoided if I didn’t choose to walk to the next bus stop. (Note: Never do that again.) The funny thing is I could literally sense the crazy as I got closer to it. I call it my Sixth Sense.
While reluctant to ignore my instinct, he came off quite harmless in the first minute or two in asking me if I saw the bus nearby. I made the mistake of responding, although briefly. He talked my ear off for those next ten minutes and I just shivered and listened. I let him have his moment.
And as his bus came to a stop in front of us, his Micro Machine Man-like,quick-talkin’ voice spoke his last words to me, “You’re really beautiful. But I’m sure you hear that all the time.” Acknowledging his crazy I didn’t take his comment to heart but still managed a genuine, “Thank you”. Seriously though, no one looks beautiful in Chicago during the winter months as the frizzy hair, bitten red cheeks, chapped lips are always on the Do Not Wear list. But no matter who says it, as delusional at they may be, when a someone tells a girl, “you’re beautiful”, for a second, before she knocks herself back down with the negative self-image voices, she does believe it. She also wishes that it was said to her by someone else.
*The title of this post comes from lyrics of Crazy People by The Wreckers.