Friday, September 21, 2012
I'm not sure if this happens to everyone, or if it's just me. Maybe I look friendly and approachable. Maybe it's my habit of eye contact, or the slight smile I generally wear. Maybe people look at me and see a kindred spirit... and by kindred, I mean 'nut like me'. But strangers talk to me fairly often. Not the strangers in acceptable situations—like when you are sharing a four hour plane ride... but people walking on the sidewalk near me. Or who see me standing somewhere...
They range from single comment-makers to people trying to engage in full-on conversation. And inevitably, most of what they say is mumbling.
And when they mumble, you are put in the very odd conundrum of deciding between the following options:
1) Ignoring them. (I think I am incapable of doing this.)
2) Agreeing with them to be agreeable.
3) Or asking for clarification about what they just said.
But the LATTER requires a deeper level engagement—by asking clarification you have expressed INTEREST in knowing what they said... you are now OBLIGATED to listen... and what if they say something really BIZARRE—what do you DO? (or worse, what if you STILL don't understand them and now have to ALSO agree to something you didn't catch?
My two examples this week come in the form of two men.
Example ONE: Walking toward me on the sidewalk. I was editing and walking. This, for me, is not unusual, but when I see movement peripherally, I look up, He said something like:
“...you didn't see that bicycle coming...”
I smiled and agreed and kept going, but... There was no bicycle that I could see. The last one I'd passed, this man couldn't have possibly seen me pass—it was a block back... had it nearly run over HIM, so he was just conjecturing? Had he seen me another day when I nearly had to leap out of the way (this happens now and then) or when a bicycle rides into the grass to avoid me as I don't see them coming? (This happens too—I am an Oregonian who believes bikes belong in the road following road rules, but in Michigan, that is a good way for a cyclist to DIE since cars don't look for them even a little—but bikes come too fast for the attention I am giving the sidewalk). Whatever the case... at least my agreement didn't form any commitment...
Example TWO is Slim... On Wednesday, walking home, I got hit on. I think Slim has hit on me before, but I can't be sure, as last time the guy was missing several front teeth... so either two men look similar or Slim has had some dental work. Anyway... I was walking home, minding my own business and a man asks if he can walk with me. That was clear enough.
Hating to be rude, but not wanting to encourage him, I said, it's a public sidewalk, he could walk by me if he wanted to. He proceeds to make suggestions that I THINK were related to my husband's ability to satisfy me... that perhaps he could help out if I wasn't happy... I am not sure enough of what he said to scold him, but I definitely don't want to encourage this. I said I was happily married. He suggested maybe marriages didn't stay happy and I told him you had to stick through the tough stuff or it wasn't a marriage. He suggested--mumbly again... maybe he could be my friend and said something to the effect of 'that's how it starts'...
Any of you get roped into anything through a mumbler? Had suggestions you weren't sure were suggestions? Any nut magnets?
And just a teaser—I have exciting personal news for Monday (not publishing news and not HUGE, just fun)
Ih! And Have a nice Autumnal Equinox!!!